Digital Retreat: Does It Work?
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Recently, I registered for an online soul care retreat. I can’t put into words exactly why I signed up for this retreat other than I sensed the Lord drawing me to this opportunity. I didn’t have any real apprehension about an online retreat, but I did wonder how it would work for me. How would God meet me in this new and different format? What would it be like to be in a retreat setting digitally? Would there be a sense of community with others in meeting together online? How could I possibly have a sense of retreat and time away with the Lord at home on my laptop?
The experience of the retreat online was, honestly, easy. My mindset for the day was one of no expectations, other than to be listening for the voice of Jesus. I had a sense that God was in control of this time and that I only needed to be present with Him.
The technical aspects of the retreat worked really well. For me, I was able to get wi-fi on my back patio and the morning was pleasant enough to spend outdoors for the entire retreat. The ministry offering the retreat gave a few basic instructions for the online format that were really helpful with the experience.
The facilitator for the retreat offered a beautiful sense of hospitality and community as we joined together online. I found it very meaningful to be with this group of people participating from places all over the US. It was a comfortable and safe place to share together.
Of course, what I most joyfully anticipated on this retreat was quiet presence with Jesus. The facilitator, who had provided a hospitable place for community, led us into sweet presence with the Spirit and then released us for solitude and silence with God.
The retreat concluded with gathering together again for worship and sharing in community. Once again, I was impressed by how well this worked online. At the end of the retreat, many in the group stayed together online for a time, worshiping God from our own spaces.
What I can say is, for me the virtual retreat did work. If you are considering something like this, I recommend it. Below are some of the things I noticed and ways I prepared for the retreat. I hope these might be helpful for you.
1. Initiated by God - very simply put, my being on this digital retreat on this particular day was God’s idea. He invited me on retreat and I accepted His invitation when I took the step to register. That’s the first thing for you to notice - is there a sense the Lord is drawing you to spend some extended time with Him? Do you notice a desire or longing to be on retreat with Him?
2. Mental preparation - the retreat was in a 3-hour morning format, but I took the entire day off work. I don’t think I realized as I prepared for the retreat how key this aspect would be in creating space for God. Having the mindset that I would not be working, or on email, or making phone calls before or after the retreat gave me a sense of spaciousness, in my mind and in my heart, to be with Jesus.
3. Physical preparation - I was able to be at home alone for the day. You have to work that out depending on your situation. Trust the Lord and be willing to ask for what you need from your spouse, a friend, or a family member so that you can have quiet space (at home or elsewhere) for a few hours.
4. Heart preparation - since I had taken time in advance to prepare mentally, to be away from my job, and physically, to be alone for the day, I was able to take time to prepare my heart in the morning before the retreat began. For me, this meant having a cup of coffee and spending time in Scripture and in quiet with the Lord. Even if all you can manage is five minutes of silence with the Spirit before logging on for the retreat experience, I recommend some quiet moments to welcome His presence.
There are probably many opportunities for online retreats, so I encourage you to use your networks and listen to the Lord for where He might be leading you. The retreat I participated in was offered by Leadership Transformations. I have put a link below to the website. This is not an affiliate link and I do not receive compensation for recommending LTI retreats. I’d love to hear how the Lord uses the digital retreat format for you!
Leadership Transformation events are available on their website.