Sunday, June 12, 2022



A few weeks ago, a band of men in our church headed out into the foothills of the Southern Oregon Coast. They spent four days together at a remote campground.

In the weeks preceding the retreat there was a lot of talk about shooting guns, sleeping in, and kicking back around a campfire while eating roasted meat. All that sounds fun, but I was curious about the real reason most of the men trekked out of town to band together.

My husband has attended many retreats through the years and most often has returned rejuvenate and ready to jump back into life. I asked him about why he was going on this one and after chatting about it I decided it might be fun to send a questionnaire along with the men to see if I could gain more insight. 

I know what women's retreats are generally like. There are activities planned to encourage fellowship between the ladies, good teaching, quiet time allowed for meditation and big chunks of time just for fun. And usually if we have a dedicated hospitality leader the women will likely find a chocolate on their pillows. 

So, what is it the men are looking for? 

The guys were good about answering the questionnaires. They offered me a better understanding. 

In recent years it has been my observation that society has done a great disservice to our men. We have insisted that our guys should be something they are not. And if I deciphered the questionnaires properly it's clear that that is part of reason the men gather. Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in a time of need." It's not easy to maneuver through this life without good and true friends. Time away, together, encourages bonds to be developed and deepened. It's an opportunity to put down the roots of true and lasting friendships.

A few men mentioned Proverbs 27:17. "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." The men are serios about their faith. They recognize the need to be held accountable, which requires true friendship. With the help of others and the Holy Spirit a man will learn what it means to walk humbly and upright before the Lord.

Yes, the guys wanted to have a good time, to kick back, have some delicious and likely unhealthy food, talk about things like cars and football and they did a fair amount of shooting. I even heard that some of the teen boys had a hands-on lesson in how to skin a fox.  Eww ... yeah, I'm a female who doesn't find that appealing. But that's the point ... I'm not a guy. Men need to get away from the daily grind and spend time with other men. It's part of building Godly relationships.

The "fun" activities help to break down barriers and to encourage the men to connect. And then they can get down to what is really important and why they showed up in the first place.

When I went through the questionnaires it was clear, the guys wanted to close the distance between one another and get acquainted on a deeper level. They valued the teaching and personal time with God. They found things to admire in each other and they began to see some of the men as role models. We all need those.

Several men brought their sons. Offering time for fathers and sons without the distraction of cell phones or other devices was appreciated by the dads and I would guess after a bit of grousing, the sons were also glad for the opportunity to disconnect. Creating an opportunity for meaningful interaction cannot be overrated. 

Although the world would like us think that none of this matters to our men they would be dead wrong. The enemy lies to us. We need to stop listening to him. 

Something else happens at these retreats. Men are reminded that it's okay to be men. There is pressure placed on men to be more sensitive, kinder, to be in touch with their feminine side, but maybe we need to rethink this a bit. I do want my husband to be sensitive and kind but I also recognize that he is not me. He's a man. Men think and behave differently than women. And that's how it should be. I Corinthians 16:13-14 says, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love."

I think we need to step back a bit and recognize that our guys need to be guys. If they were meant to be women, God would have created them as such. Though I have whined a bit through the years about my man sometimes being too tough, I am thankful he possesses that part of himself that drives him to be strong and protective. Me and the kids have depended on him. We've trusted him to watch out for us. And to be tough when we needed it.

The men won't find a chocolate on their pillow when they turn in at night, but the friendships and valuable conversations, and spiritual growth that takes place on their forays into the forest will stay with them and help them along life's journey. 

Yes, retreats are fun, but they are so much more. The next time you hear of a retreat being organized for the men in your church, encourage the one's you love to join in. They will be happy they took the plunge and so will you.

Grace and peace to you from God,



  1. Anonymous7:39 PM

    Thank you Bonnie! I enjoyed this very much and I totally agree that men need to fellowship with men to build friendship bonds just as women need to do their "thing" with other women. My husband was a fisherman and hunter who loved to rough it but not me. I prefer my retreat in a hotel, thank you very much. :) God made us all different and I'm so thankful for that.

  2. Anonymous11:05 PM

    I like this. Male. Female. God's plan. Good for the men to have close friendships.