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Christian Retreats Network

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He Answered Me: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By The CRN Team

In my distress, I called to the LORD, and he answered me. Psalm 120:1 

Per the CDC, depression, substance use, and suicidal thoughts are significant concerns based on data reported on youth aged 12-17 years in 2018-2019:

  • 1% had a major depressive episode.
  • 7% had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  • 1% had a substance use disorder.
  • 6% had an alcohol use disorder.
  • 2% had an illicit drug use disorder.
  • 8% seriously considered attempting suicide.
  • 7% made a suicide plan.
  • 9% attempted suicide.
  • 5% made a suicide attempt requiring medical treatment.


Teenagers face new and different struggles that didn't exist even ten years ago. Social media and technology continue to change how we communicate in new and unpredictable ways that are fascinating and undoubtedly addicting. Today's teens live in a drastically different world than many of us did in our youth, which makes disconnecting significantly more difficult for them.

As leaders and planners, how do we move the dial? How do we plan transformative experiences that inspire our youth to seek His wisdom, guidance, and love in retreat?

Firstly, we must be prepared to model and facilitate prayerful retreats alongside our co-leaders. Throughout history, the act of retreat has served as an opportunity for radical internal change and growth. In Luke 9:28-36, Jesus retreats to the top of a mountain with Peter, John, and James to pray. While there, Moses and Elijah appear and speak with Jesus. The men hear the voice of God, yet it's recorded they never said a thing the rest of their days. Their experience was intimate and sacred between the three of them and God. This story reminds us that retreat is an intimate experience with the Lord, and its benefits are amplified in numbers and community.

Secondly, we must live authentically and honestly with our teens. Identify your staff needs and start recruiting leaders who will be beacons of light and Christian wisdom. Be particular when choosing your retreat staff, and recruit leaders who are seasoned in their faith and experienced in leading retreats. It may seem like a no-brainer for the young adults in your congregation to chaperone a youth retreat. They are closer in age and bound to have more in common with your youth population, but have you considered your older congregation? Diversity is essential when leading teens in their walk with Jesus, and the faithful members of your church community have incurred decades of unparalleled life experience.

Lastly, we must actively disciple to reach teens who don't have a home church or youth group. Signing up for an overnight trip with people you don't know is intimidating, so in your advertising and marketing, include explicit messaging that invites individuals to communicate and ask questions. 

Instead of: "Questions? Email" 

Try: "No home church? New to prayer? Join us! We'd love to have you. Email to schedule a 1:1 with one of our retreat leaders." 

Retreats allow teenage students to delve into His Word in a fun, safe, and neutral environment. Do you need a place to host your next retreat? The Christian Retreats Network offers retreat and conference centers in Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Michigan, Virginia, and West Virginia.

For inspiration, check out our numerous blogs about retreat themes.

Connect with a CRN planner today to get started.

Christian Retreats Network /

Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626