9 Ways God Can Impact You on a Retreat

Christian retreats. If you’re involved in an Ignite group on your campus, you’ve likely been invited to attend a retreat.

Between classes, school work, and holding down a job, it can seem impossible to carve out time to attend a weekend retreat — especially if you’ve never been on before.

Retreats are an essential part of developing your faith, and a time when you can encounter God in a new and fresh way.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Retreat

Every semester, Ignite hosts the Encounter Retreat – giving students the opportunity to get off campus, disconnect from school, and reconnect with God.

We design each retreat with one main goal: for students to have a genuine encounter with God. Retreats are powerful and a necessary practice for building your faith, growing closer to God and to other Christians. We believe in the power of retreats so much that we put a lot of time, energy, and resources into our retreats.

But why are retreats so important and, better yet, why should you attend a retreat? Here are our top 5 reasons:

1. You Encounter God

If you take an entire weekend to focus yourself on seeking God, you will have some kind of encounter with Him – be it an overwhelming sense of His presence, clarity on an issue in your life, receiving a life call, encouragement or challenge to reach out more, even healing for the wounds in your life. And as we say in Ignite – one encounter with God can change your life.

2. You Grow Closer to Others

Lock yourself away at a retreat center for a few days with other Christians and you will come back with some new and deeper friendships. In the midst of meals together, sharing a bathroom, playing games, worshipping, praying, discussing, and eating snacks you get to know more about the people on the retreat – in a way you never could just at school.

3. Your Priorities are Straightened Out

Our priorities often get out of whack. We tend to place more importance on grades, work, organizations we’re involved in and forget our main priority – growing closer to God. When you put aside everything else to focus on God, your life suddenly comes back into alignment and the amazing happens – God gives you everything you need. After all, when you seek Him first, everything else will be given to you (Matthew 6).

4. You Come Back Recharged

School can be exhausting, especially with papers to write, books to read, math problems to solve, not to mention roommate issues and finding ways to make cafeteria food taste good. Taking a weekend off campus away from the homework and stresses of school is relaxing – and often what you need to be recharged and energized for the rest of the semester.

5. You are Energized to Reach Your Campus

Let’s face it – school has a way of overwhelming you, stealing your time, attention, and desire to reach others for Christ. Attending a retreat will help energize you again for reaching the lost – and put a fire in you to see it happen.

These are just five of the many reasons why attending a retreat is important for your spiritual growth. Getting away, disconnecting from life, and reconnecting to God is necessary to becoming the person God has called you to be.

Take the step today – register for our next Encounter Retreat. You won’t regret it. We promise.

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This past weekend, twenty eight students from Monmouth College, Knox College, and Joliet Junior College gathered together for the Ignite Encounter Retreat. They took time away from school, put aside homework and work, and spent the weekend seeking after God.

There were speaking sessions focused on rejoicing in all God does in our lives, the need to lay a solid foundation on Christ, learning to speak God’s word over the dry bones — or impossible situations — in our lives, and an ending devotion challenging them to take what happened at the retreat and bring it to students in need of Christ’s love. There were multiple times of worship, opportunities for prayer, many conversations amongst students, and some very genuine encounters.

While every encounter retreat is powerful, during this semester’s retreat God did something greater.

  • One student heard God speaking to him for only the second time in his life.
  • Another student found the courage to face the issues in her life and seek God’s healing.
  • Another student realized there were dead areas in her life and found the determination to see them come back to life.
  • Multiple students found answers to questions they were wrestling with for awhile.
  • Some students discovered the power of fully worshipping God.
  • One student received healing in her foot during a discussion session. We didn’t even pray over it, but by the time the session was done, the pain was gone in her foot.

But one of the greatest moments of the retreat happened Saturday night, as students took time to pray for their schools — and the graduating seniors took time to pray for the underclassmen to continue building upon the work already done at their school.

God promises to do greater things when we wholly surrender ourselves to Him.

The students on the Ignite Encounter Retreat experienced something greater this weekend — in their lives, in their relationship with each other, in their relationship with God and, ultimately, on their college campuses — and so can you.

God doesn’t call us to be perfect, to know everything there is to know about Him or the bible, to have all our “stuff” together. He simply asks us to give Him ourselves — every aspect of our lives — so He can do something greater in us.

No matter what you’re facing, no matter what circumstances have risen, no matter what areas in you life feel dry, dead, or impossible, in the hands of our great God, He can take whatever we give him and make it into something greater.

But it starts when we unashamedly and fearlessly seek after Him.

There I Am

This past weekend the students from Ignite Monmouth attended an Encounter Retreat in the hopes of encountering God. There were speaking sessions focused on the fact that God is enough for our lives. There was a prayer workshop to train students how to pray publicly. There were nights full of all-out worship that left us with sore throats the next morning. And there were encounters with God.

Normally on these retreats, students experience God in several ways. They might feel His presence during worship, and find the strength to raise their hands to the heavens. Others might experience the power of God through the communal prayer they experience. Still more might hear the gentle whispers of God during the time of silence on Saturday. But this time, God manifested in a new way.

On this retreat, God made Himself known through us. Students began to open up about past hurts and addictions, and when they did, their chains were broken. Students who had been dealing with depression suddenly found themselves with a renewed desire for Christ. Others who had been stuck in addictions for months found support amongst friends. Even more found that with the support of the group, the chains that bound them to past pains were broken, and forgiveness was able to rush in. Truly this was how God appeared this weekend.

For Jesus told us that, “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” That was never truer than on this retreat. For where Jesus is, there is healing for the hurting, and forgiveness finally became a possibility for many. When Jesus shows up, there is freedom for the captives, and addictions that have plagued some for years suddenly paled in comparison to the freedom that Christ offers. In the presence of Jesus, there is strength for the weak, and students who were on the brink of giving up found themselves clinging to God for hope.

If you keep your struggles, your sins, and your pains to yourself, you will never find peace. If you keep those things in the dark, they will grow. But if you can find a support system to open up to, you can shed light on the once dark places and begin to heal. For where two or three gather in the name of Christ, He will bring healing. Do not keep your pain a secret any longer, for the path to freedom begins by opening up to others.

Students have an Encounter

During the weekend of November 2-4, students from five different schools gathered together for our bi-annual Encounter Retreat.

We had 21 students total coming from Monmouth College, Carl Sandburg College, Joliet Junior College, Galesburg High School, and United High School, along with three Ignite staff members.

Students participated in sessions each day that helped them disconnect from school and work, and seek to encounter the God who created them. Sessions included: The Nature of God’s Love, Job Well Done (Being a Faithful Servant), Prophetic Prayer, Powerful Prayer, Empowered to Go final devotion, a time of silence, and numerous times of worship and prayer.

It was a powerful retreat where every student had some kind of encounter with God. But don’t take our word for it. Hear what our students had to say:

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Watch more video testimonials from the retreat on YouTube!

Register for the Next Encounter Retreat!

If you are a high school senior, college student, or young adult up to age 25, you are able to attend the Ignite Encounter Retreat! Our next retreat is scheduled for April 5-7 at Great Oaks Camp in Lacon, Illinois. Get more information and register online.

Encounter Retreat Donations

In order to keep the cost of the Encounter Retreats affordable to all students, Ignite relies upon donations to cover food, booklet, and scholarship costs for the weekend. The student fee only covers the cost of the retreat center rental. All other expenses related to the retreats are covered through generous supporters like yourself.

Many students are unable to cover the cost of the retreat. A tax-deductible donation of $40 provides the way for a student to have a powerful encounter with Christ.

There are two ways you can help provide for an Encounter Retreat:

Financial Donation

Visit our Give page and make an online donation to the General Fund or make your check out to Ignite and mail it to:

Ignite Student Ministries
1007 E. Boston Ave
Monmouth, IL 61462

Food Donation

We’ve made donating food easy!

    1. Click the Food List button below to see all the items we need to purchase.
    2. Type your name into the field next to the item you would like to donate, so we don’t have duplicate donations.
    3. Purchase or bake/cook your items
    4. Send Jason an email to arrange pickup or delivery.
All donations need to be made by NOON on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2.

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Thank you for your generosity in helping to keep the cost of our Encounter Retreats affordable for our students.

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Ignite Students have an Encounter

The weekend of March 30 through April 1, Ignite Student Ministries had the privilege of hosting the bi-annual Encounter Retreat at Great Oaks Camp in Lacon, Illinois. These retreats are intended to give students the opportunity to get off campus, disconnect from homework and responsibilities and work and stresses from school, and focus on encountering God.

We had 16 students from five different schools attend, including Monmouth College (Monmouth, IL), Carl Sandburg College (Galesburg, IL), Joliet Junior College (Joliet, IL), Galesburg High School (Galesburg, IL) and United High School (Monmouth, IL), along with two Ignite staff members.

Students were excited to take part in a number of sessions geared to growing their faith. These sessions included:

  • True Treasures, on the importance of building treasures that last;
  • Silence, where students spent an hour and a half in silence in order to hear God;
  • Responsibility of God’s Favor, that God’s blessings in our life are meant to be shared;
  • Developing Your Inner Man, on how to build Christ-like character;
  • Financial Stewardship, where students learned how to handle money in a Godly way; and
  • Igniting Others, on how we need to invest in others to see them on fire for Christ.

They also enjoyed times of worship and prayer, extended free and fellowship time, a night hike and bonfire, lots of food and a lot of of fun….and not one came back the same.

Andrew Scheuering, Ignite Sandburg member, had this to say:

It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m so grateful that I could be a part of it, opening the door to new fellowship in my life. It really inspired me to start doing so much more for the Lord.

Read more of Andrew’s story.

Hear more stories of how God moved from the students who were there:

God continues to move mightily in our Encounter Retreats. Students are empowered, encouraged and challenged to seek God more and live out the calling and potential He has placed in their lives.

Learn more about our Encounter Retreats.

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Encounter Retreat Food Donations

Ignite needs your help!

Every semester, Ignite hosts an Encounter Retreat, where students are able to get off campus, disconnect from homework and work and stress, have fun and encounter God. These retreats allow students time to get into the Word, worship God freely, pray, spend time in silence and build relationships with fellow Christians at other schools.

The retreat fee is $40 per student and that only covers the cost of the retreat center. Food and scholarships (some students are not able to pay the $40 retreat fee) are not included in that price.

That’s where you come in!

Ignite is looking for churches and individuals who are willing to donate food or money to help offset the cost of the meals for our retreats. Donations range from a few dozen cookies or pancake batter to spaghetti noodles or bread.

[one_half]Food Donations:

To donate food for our retreats, click the button below to send us an email with your email address and phone number. We’ll send you the list of food items we need for the retreat.

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[one_half_last]Money Donations:

To donate money towards food or scholarship costs, visit our Donate page and make a General Support donation and put Retreat Food or Retreat Scholarship in the Comment line.
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Contact us with any questions!

Ignite Students have an Encounter

This past weekend, Ignite Student Ministries had the privilege of hosting the bi-annual Encounter Retreat at Camp Summit in New Windsor, Illinois. These retreats are intended to give students the opportunity to get off campus, disconnect from homework and responsibilities and work and stresses from school, and focus on encountering God.

We had 21 students from 6 different schools attend, including Monmouth College (Monmouth, IL), Carl Sandburg College (Galesburg, IL), Culver-Stockton College (Canton, MO), Illinois State University (Normal, IL), Ashford University (Clinton, IA), Galesburg High School (Galesburg, IL) and United High School (Monmouth, IL), along with three Ignite staff members.

Students were excited to take part in a number of sessions geared to growing their faith. These sessions included:

  • Be Prepared, on the importance of preparing yourself to encounter Christ;
  • Silence, where students spent an hour and a half in silence in order to hear God;
  • God of the Impossible, that nothing can limit God from fulfilling his promises to us;
  • Defending Your Faith, on how to use apologetics to defend your faith;
  • Discovering You, where students took a number of personality and leadership quizzes; and
  • The Butterfly Effect, on how a simple action can have a huge impact.

They also enjoyed times of worship and prayer, extended free and fellowship time, lots of food and a lot of of fun….and not one came back the same.

Tyler Fox, Ignite Sandburg Student Leader, had this to say about his time at the Encounter Retreat:

Over the past weekend, he [Ignite President and Visionary Leader, Jason Vana] spoke some words to me that hurt. Frankly, some of them were a slap to the face.
Were they true? Yes.
Did I need to hear them? Yes.
Am I grateful? More than I have been in a long time.
He explained that I’m in a time of change. And told me to get over what I’ve been feeling. To get over the pain, the hurt, everything, and move on. He said what I didn’t want to think.
Read more of the story on Tyler’s blog.

Hear more stories from the Ignite Encounter Retreat from the students who were there:

Watch more videos of Ignite Encounter Retreat stories on our Youtube page!