It was my sophomore year. My Bible Study leader worked hard to get me to come to the fall retreat. However, I had two main excuses for not going. I wanted to go home that weekend, but could not get a ride. And I had two exams the week after the retreat, that were re-scheduled. So after my excuses ran out, I finally turned in my pre-registration money. That was the first conference I ever went to. I could not believe I put up such resistance to going. But from then on, I was hooked. I went to every conference after that. Those events were significant in my growth as a Christian and instilling vision.
Fall retreats are great opportunities to take a break from studies and spend time with the Lord and other believers. If it was important for me when I was a student on a campus with staff, retreats are event more critical for us in apostolic ministry in developing student leaders. Not only do the students hear great teaching and experience worship, a retreat is great for developing community and helps develop a commitment to the ministry.
Don’t be afraid to stress the value of the retreat to your student leaders. If you send out emails, remind students about it. Do keep asking them, gently, even if they have said they can’t go. This helps new students feel cared for and wanted. Provide incentives to first time attenders. Work especially hard to get freshmen with leadership potential and those who appear to be natural people persons and recruiters to come. If they get infected with the vision, your job of recruiting becomes so much easier for the next conference. And it goes without saying that the more that go, the greater momentum that ministry will have when they get back to campus for evangelism and discipleship. For more see http://godsquad.com/sending/visionretreats.htm.