Ministry of Thriving

Soul Care Retreat

A gathering of congregational leaders in the mountain town of Idyllwild, CA for rest and restoration of the soul. July 10-12, 2023.


What is a Ministry of Thriving?Express interest


Spend some time with the Lord, slow down, rest…

For many, the idea of a retreat to commune with the Lord is a delightful prospect.  For the rest of us, too busy for such pleasantries, we may acknowledge the importance of getting away but too many other things are more important or pressing.

If it helps you, think of a retreat as a “tactical withdrawal,” but note that even that language makes communing with the Lord a means of doing more things for God, rather than simply being with him.

If you’ve landed on this page, you’ve been invited to “retreat” with a small group of congregational leaders longing to cultivate a deep and abiding sense of God’s presence in our everyday lives. I hope you will be able to join us.

– Geoff

The rationale

Reflect a moment…


No need to dive into how difficult it has been to lead a church in the last few years. You have your own stories of challenging leadership decisions in uncertain times.

You can read more about pastoral burnout if you want some encouragement that you aren’t alone. There are in fact many reasons to explain your lack of motivation, irritability, and general sense of malaise. But mostly it points to our need to care for our own souls.

You can also read about how we are trying to resource pastors, church planters, and other congregational leaders. Our model of ministerial resilience prescribes supporting ministers in both personal and professional competencies.



Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your own well-being is not doing anything… or at least anything practical.

This retreat is intentionally “un-programmed” in that there will be plenty of time to “be still and know he is God.” We will dine together, and have a couple of worship sessions resembling morning and evening prayers, but the rest of the time is for you. We’re noodling over a couple of optional sessions if you would like food for devotional thought.

We will have a spiritual director on premise as well offer coaching and peer-coaching.

Did we mention beautiful mountain setting, fresh food, comfy beds, hiking, and a cute town to explore?


Pastors who say it is difficult to find time to invest in own spiritual development


Pastors at risk of burnout 



Protestant pastors in 2022 who gave “real, serious consideration…” to quitting.


Ratio of protestant clergy in the U.S. who experience financial stress.


Invitation to Retreat

“If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart after a while.”

Dallas Willard


July 10-12, 2023

We’ll begin with dinner on Monday, July 10th and depart after lunch on Wed, July 12th (Two nights, five meals).


Hilltop Renewal Center in Idyllwild, CA.

This retreat center is relatively new with a capacity of 20 or so. Essentially two houses converted to provide comfortable double occupancy housing. We will mostly be in the Community house. Twin pillow-top mattresses. Sheets and towels provided. Fresh meals lovingly prepared. Snacks and coffee are all included.

Plan for summer weather (ie: cold, and maybe some snow/ice?) Comfy accommodations.


Minimal programming. Some worship devotional time in the morning and after dinner. Bring your own book(s) to read or bring an issue to work out with the Lord. Spiritual direction available/included. Geoff will be offering coaching.

Optional: (To be discerned)

Lots of hiking trails and a cute town for coffee or beverage of choice.


Men and women who are in ministry may register including, pastors, church planters, spouses within the Flourish San Diego ecosystem.

We also welcome guests from the San Diego Church Planting Movement, City to City, and by personal invitation of me (Geoff).

Maximum capacity of 18-20 adults. Not equipped for children, but nursing infants are welcome.

How Much?

Our cost is running about $300 a person, but registration will be $125 thanks to our grant funding. Register as soon as you are able as space is limited.


If you are looking for fresh ideas on how to retreat well, we recommend a copy of “Invitation to Retreat” by Ruth Haley Barton. Whether you are experienced in retreating or not, we trust this will be a great resource for you.

You might also consider the self-facilitated retreat guide developed by our friends at the Seattle School.


Contact Geoff at


What's the hoped for vibe?

While it may be the case that prayer and discerment around a practical ministry challenge might be the topic for “retreating,” for many of us the care that our souls clamor for will be freedom from shop talk and the poison of ministry boasting/comparison.

In your participation, please be attentive to your own spirit and let your motivation be that of love and encouragement of the other through friendship.

Do I have to participate in everything?

No. We anticipate participants to be sufficiently aware and emotionally intelligent, knowing what they need to spend their time doing. If you need a nice morning hike, and a long nap in the afternoon, you are welcome to do so.

We recommend bringing a copy of “Invitation to Retreat” by Ruth Haley Barton. It may be just the sort of resource to help you get the most out of your experience.

We will have meals together along with morning, midday, and evening office. We are planning some optional sessions to spur gospel renewal in our own hearts.  Spiritual direction sessions are available.

So, no. But, we hope you make some friends and have some great conversations.

Who will be there?

Mostly pastors, ministry leaders, some spouses, and perhaps an infant or two. As would be the case with most Flourish San Diego events, it is likely that there is some diversity in theological traditions and emphasis in social concerns, but the common denominator generally is an orientation toward being and leading a church that flourishes our communities and city.

The other common denominator will be a willingness (and even a desire) to connect with leaders outside our normal traditions and reporting structures. Research has shown this to be a powerful contributor to ministerial resilience.

Wine and smoking

Yes and no. In the category of “what should I expect?,” we may have wine and/or beer at dinner as there may be Presbyterians in attendance (attempt at humor).

Smoking is prohibited due to wildfire risk.


That’s an internet question.  I’m guessing summery hot with the cool mountain evenings that people go up there for. There is no AC, but there are fans.

Wifi and mobile coverage

Even though you won’t really need it… the Community House will have wifi.

Cellphone reception is good across the major carriers.


No issues with GPS in leading you to Hilltop Renewal Center:

24850 Oates Ln
Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA 92549.