Why Don’t We Retreat?

We have an invitation for you today.


Ruth Haley Barton recommends that people in ministry have a spiritual retreat once a month to stay spiritually healthy. Everyone needs spiritual retreat, but when your life is about pouring out in ministry to others, you need a frequent rhythm of retreat to fill you up.

She is talking about anyone in ministry. This does not take into account the stresses of cross-cultural adjustment and life. So it’s fair to say that people ministering cross-culturally need at least a monthly retreat for spiritual vitality.

But who really does that?   

Seriously. A monthly spiritual retreat sounds lovely, so lovely it’s laughable.

Since this space is the “missions conversation,” can we have an open, honest dialogue about this?

How many of you practice spiritual retreat? Do you have times of “strategic withdrawal”? Do you remove yourself from your regular role and responsibilities for an extended time with the purpose of deepening your relationship with God?

This is NOT meant to be shame inducing. It’s an exploration into our reality.

I doubt many of us would disagree that spiritual retreat is a good idea; that Jesus himself “frequently withdrew into the wilderness”, and we should too. In fact, I think most of us like the idea and desire to practice spiritual retreat in our life.

But most of us don’t. And I wonder why.

Is it because it goes against everything not only in worldly culture, but also (especially?) Christian missions culture? We’re doers by nature. There’s a world that needs saving, so we’re very busy people.

Is it because our people need us? We can’t be spared.

Is it because we don’t have a physical place to go?

Is it because it feels expensive, and we don’t have the money for it?

Is it because we don’t know what we would actually do if we did take a spiritual retreat?

Or is it all of the above?

Our souls long for deeper intimacy with God. We sense the truth of Dallas Willard’s statement:

“If we don’t come apart for while, we will come apart after awhile.”

And yet so many barriers stand in the way of “coming apart”.

God has planted a vision in the ministry of Velvet Ashes to overcome as many of these barriers as possible, so that spiritual retreat is not a lovely, laughable idea, it’s actually doable for you. For you who live in remote places, for you with slow internet, for you with a nursing baby, for you with small budgets, for you who need to retreat but don’t know how you can.

This retreat is for you.

We create a retreat experience once a year. We’d all like to do monthly retreats, but let’s start with one. (We do have four past years’ retreats available for purchase if you’re looking for more!), The heart of the Velvet Ashes Retreat is to give you a taste, to equip you with tools to be able to make spiritual retreat a rhythm of your life.  Because once you taste the fruit of retreat, once you see how God meets you, you become hungry for more.

We invite you to join the global community as we retreat across the world. Get our early registration rate only until March 5th.

I’d love to hear in the comments about how and if you practice spiritual retreat, and what barriers who you face. Let’s have an honest, shame free exploration into reality.


Danielle Wheeler – Founder and Executive Director of Velvet Ashes. Recovering from trying to save the world. Now living in God’s tender care and inviting others to join her. Enjoys good books, tiny restaurants, plants, and pots of tea. Mom to four kiddos and wife to one supportive man. Find her on Instagram @daniellemwheeler.

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