In order for any retreat to happen, volunteers need to be willing to come as leaders. I am blessed to be able to have an incredible team of volunteers that help make all of our retreats incredible. Our students experience incredible life change on retreats because we have a team filled with adults that want to do nothing more than care for students. Leading up to many of our retreats, I often hear from parents, "Do you need chaperones?" While the question is a well-intentioned statement letting me know they are willing to help, there is a very significant distinction that exists between the job of a chaperone and the job of a shepherd.
Key differences between the chaperones and shepherds:
- Chaperones enforce rules, shepherds are gracious and patient with the rules.
- Chaperones help get people from point A to point B, shepherds see a van ride as an opportunity for discussion and bonding.
- Chaperones want to keep kids quiet, shepherds want to get kids talking.
- Chaperones want to tell kids what to do, shepherds show them what to do.
- Chaperones keep an eye on students, shepherds are pastors to students.
- Chaperones finish their work at the end of the retreat, shepherds have just begun a new level of pastoring at the end of a retreat.
- Chaperones judge success based on if everything goes as planned, shepherds judge success based on if lives are changed.
Retreats are great opportunities for ministry, but they require volunteers that see themselves as shepherds instead of chaperones.