B1G South True Life Retreat – Day 1

I know it’s been a while since I wrote something for my blog. These past months, I‘ve been busy preparing and planning for a retreat. The  True Life retreat just ended and I am once again filled with mixed emotions. I remember writing an article last year about my B1G8 experience so this time allow me to just walk you through what has happened in this year’s True Life Retreat.

Marc Sorongon with Advance Party for True Life RetreatI was part of the advance party which arrived at the Rizal Re-creation Center last Thursday (November 28, 2013) and immediately, there was a big problem that we needed to address. The main hall which was supposed to be unoccupied was filled with around 120 people who were having a retreat as well. One of our main objectives for the advance party was to setup the stage design. So we just decided to do the stage setup somewhere else and transport it the following day. But that was not actually the major concern. The main concern is the actual program that we planned for the morning of Day 1. Part of our program during the first day was to have an opening program in the main hall. But those who were occupying the hall were scheduled to vacate it after lunch. This left me thinking of other options that we could do. I started talking to a lot of people about contingency plans. This also made me ask God for help through prayer and at the same time, wisdom for what to do. I really did not want to change the program and adjust. To be honest, I’m the type of guy who wants everything to be planned and executed perfectly. But I knew God had a plan and I just needed to trust him. Even before the retreat, He has constantly been reminding me that He will be faithful and that I just needed to trust him.

Marc Sorongon briefing BOGLS

Briefing the Breakout Group Leaders about the change in Schedule

We adjusted the program and decided to replace the opening program with an early lunch. When Day 1 came, I was excited but at the same time nervous. I was so looking forward to seeing all the participants that I was even confident enough in what we had planned to do. I also set out a challenge for myself. I know people have always been telling me that I needed to improve my social skills so I decided to welcome people at the retreat. Before everyone had a chance to leave their bags at the designated area, I was there welcoming them and with a big smile.  I really wanted to make everyone feel comfortable and welcomed. I can’t remember how many times I said “Good morning” but each time I would greet someone and smile at them – they would politely smile back. I thought to myself – “Hey, this is not bad. I should do this more often.” I was even relieved to know that the participants were being accommodated because people were approaching them with boards hanging over their necks which had questions they needed to answer. Overall, I saw that despite the change in schedule, God was still working it for the good. As he has been telling me all day long – He is always faithful. This was also the first time that the first part of the program was not an opening ceremony, but a getting to know activity for the breakout groups. I was scared honestly, since this might be awkward for some participants and the break group leader had to ensure that they’ll be able to build rapport with their group on the first meet. I trusted God and thought to myself that the opening program is not the major factor that will help ensure the catch, but it’s the relationships that will be created and nurtured in the breakout groups. I know God is working and I should trust him.

If you’re thinking that the problem ended there, it was actually just the beginning. Because while the breakout groups were getting to know one another, lots of things still needed to be done. Those occupying the main hall finished late and the mobile rental equipment had around 3 hours to setup the speakers, wiring, amplifiers, drums, etc. To top it all off, while the mobile equipment was being prepped, the production team needed to setup the stage and transport all the designs they have built to the main hall. The opening program was delayed and we started at 3pm. I also needed to compose myself because I was scheduled to play the bass during the opening program and preach the first message after the opening program. To simply explain my condition during that time – I was just very tired.B1G-South-True-Life-Retreat-Message1-Preaching But when I started to preach, I just really felt very relaxed and energized. As I looked into everyone’s eyes from the pulpit, I felt this overwhelming joy because it made me realize that these are the people that we will be serving the next 3 days and I want nothing more than for them to get to know the Lord and grow in their love for Him. I really thank God that despite the issues and problems we had, when I started to preach I was focused and was able to deliver the message well. Truly, I am always left thanking God after each message I deliver. This was really another work of the Lord and glory should only be towards him.

I was really relieved after preaching, everything was almost in order and I was done with most of the things I really needed to do. We had dinner and I sat with my Dgroup. I asked how everyone was since I haven’t been able to really connect with them because of my busy schedule. As I tried to listen to them, I can feel that most of them were going through something which left me very burdened and not at peace. I wanted to minister to them. I wanted to be there for them. But I couldn’t handle everything that’s why I asked one of the Dgroup members to be an intern and handle the group for the meantime during breakouts. I was left asking God, what I should do. I was thinking, do I need to join them during breakout? But again, looking back at what was God was telling me, I know He will be faithful and I needed to focus on what my responsibilities are. So I entrusted my group towards God. But in the end, He still never fails to guide me. During the breakout, I was doing nothing and no concern was coming along my way so I took the guitar and started playing outside the main hall and somehow, God lead me to just listen to the discussion of my Dgroup and then eventually join them. So I did and we had a good discussion about life in general.

Day 1 was really exhausting for me. I ended the day briefing all the volunteers what would happen on Day 2 and at the same time praying for them. The tone of my voice was monotonous and without energy but deep within my heart, I felt peace and joy to be part of the work of the Lord. Despite being tired, I was still actually able to roam around and do security checks. I really do not know how much energy I spent during that day. But I know deep within my heart that it was fuelled by my love for the Lord and the love I have for the people he has entrusted me to lead. This is just my Day 1 experience which really showed me that God is in control and He will always be faithful no matter what happens. I still want to write about Day 2 but I feel I need to cut this entry since it might be too long. I hope while reading this, you were encouraged and you realize that no matter what setbacks we may have in life, God still holds us in his hand. Again, He is faithful.

The first day of the True Life Singles Retreat has just ended and here is what happened the following day in the retreat.

5 Things to Consider When Planning for a Retreat

I don’t know why, but I’ve always dreamed of leading a retreat. I just haven’t volunteered before because I know it would require a lot of work. But this time, I know that this is really what God wants me to do so I took on the role of being the retreat coordinator for the B1G South Ministry this year. We’ve started retreat planning a couple of weeks ago for our November retreat and I just want to share some important points that you need to consider when planning a retreat.

I started my career in the project management industry. Whenever there is a project, a lot of the work is invested on planning. You need to plan a lot of things: the scope, time, and cost. Having these factors sorted out will make implementation seamless and less prone to errors. The output of your planning sessions will help brief your team so everyone’s aware of the tasks they specifically need to do. When the project team knows what is expected from them, you’ll be able to easily delegate tasks and monitor the progress. Of course, establishing the scope of your retreat is also very important and will require you to focus on the following factors during your planning sessions.


(1) Objectives

What is the goal of the retreat? What do you want to achieve? Laying down your objectives will help steer the direction of the retreat. This will help you focus just on the important things you need to consider. When you have a goal in mind, everything that you will be doing should help attain it. Your objectives will also help you in making sound decisions. There will be times when you’ll need to make some tough choices and your objectives should be a major factor in your decision making.


(2) Date

Since you’ll want to have a lot of people participate in your retreat, choosing the right date is important. There’s no guarantee that a specific date will be free for everyone so you should plot a date that will encourage the majority of your target participants to attend. It’s also vital that you consider Holidays and peak season since this can affect the price of your venue. What is the ideal number of days for a retreat you ask? This ultimately depends on your objectives. Normally for us, we would always have it for 3 days and 2 nights.  Our retreats are specifically targeted towards single professionals so we usually plot our retreats for the weekend, allowing them to only take a leave from work for one day.


(3) Venue

Try creating a checklist of all the things you want to consider for the venue. From your checklist take note of your absolutes and good to haves. Definitely, your absolutes should be good rooms that will be comfortable for your participants. But what is the scope of a good room? Does that mean a 5-star rated room? Again, you need to align your objectives towards your target market. If you are targeting single professionals, they would most probably want a room that is at best the level of apartelles. If this is for the youth, they would most probably not think much about the type of room they will be staying in, but they would be more concerned about the facilities available at the venue. Keep in mind the amenities and costs for the venue. Amenities should help foster your objectives and also include enough recreational activities that your participants will be interested in. Before you decide on a venue, do an ocular inspection. It will allow you to get a feel of your venue and have a better understanding of what you and your team will be working with.


(4) Cost

If you already have past experiences in planning the financial side of a retreat, you can peg a cost that will be reasonable for your participants. Whatever the pegged cost, just remember that your budget shouldn’t revolve solely on it. This means that when you create your budget, don’t try adjusting it too much just so it would meet your pegged cost. Create a feasible budget. Include all the actual or estimated costs and then compute how much to charge each participant. From there compare it to your pegged cost. Is it above or below your pegged cost? If it is below, then you can use your new computation rather than your pegged cost. If it is above your pegged amount, then you might want to do away with some items to lower your budget. What are those items? Again, realign yourself with your objectives. The best outcome is just to breakeven but if have a retreat fund from your ministry, then maybe you can use it as leverage to lower down the cost. At the end of the day, the cost for a soul getting to know Jesus is priceless!


(5) Number of Participants

Create a target of how many participants you can accommodate on this retreat. But be sure that your target number can easily be accommodated by the venue. Aim for the target and let it be your vision. Put that target deep within your heart. Allow it to sink it. Allow it to motivate you and push you to reach it because you just want to share the love of Jesus to people. When you have that target, cascade it to your team and create marketing campaigns to achieve it.

In reality, there is no clear formula on how to plan a perfect retreat. Keep in mind that imperfect people are planning it. That imperfect people are working on it. The best way to ensure that your retreat will be successful is to just rely on God. With every decision, pray about it and ask God to guide, lead and give you favor throughout. In the end, if your retreat is for Him then the success should only be pointed towards Him and not you.

Note from the Author: if you want to know how the Retreat went, you may read my entries about it. Here are my experiences during the first official B1G South Retreat: Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.


My Top 5 Entries Since I Started Writing

It’s that time of year when things have started to pile up. The B1G South ministry is in the middle of planning for November’s retreat, I have a couple of speaking engagements coming up, and there’s just so much work that needs to be done. It just goes to show that when you’re busy, time just seems to fly by so fast. I can’t believe that it’s already been a year since I started writing this blog. When I was trying to decide what I wanted to write about, I honestly didn’t have any specific niche in mind. This is the reason why I decided to call my site assorted ideas – I just wrote whatever came to mind.  But as my relationship with the Lord grew, I was moved to write about Him and His impact on my life. It’s been a year and I thank God that with his spirit, He has inspired me to write powerful entries that has been a blessing to others.  To recap, here are my top 5 entries since I started this blog last September 2012.

5th Place – Prayer and Fasting Testimony 2013

It was a wonderful experience just writing what I have learned and how God has really just spoken to me during the prayer and fasting week last January 2013. I remember I was all alone in my room and I was writing my thoughts down while feeling intense hunger. It was a moment when the Lord felt so near and the hunger to know Him had become stronger than the hunger for food. This entry stands as a testimony that if we draw near to God he will definitely draw near to us.

4th Place – 3 Ways How to Manage Your Emotions

Singles love to talk about matters of the heart. This entry is an excerpt from my message at B1G Connect last July 6. Why am I including this in my top entries? Aside from the fact that this entry got the most number of comments (will reply to them one by one soon), I believe the message really hit the spot for a lot of singles. It is only through God’s word that we will be able to add logic to our emotions, and not be carried away by it. It’s only through His word that we’ll be able to really manage our emotions.  I know this entry spoke to a lot of people and I praise God for that.

3rd Place – 3 Things I learned while I was not using Facebook

If you love logging on to Facebook or any form of social media, this entry is for you. Upon posting this entry, I immediately got a high traffic of views for my site. This entry helped others rethink their Facebook habits. That anything blown out of proportion will never amount to anything good. And yeah, someone naturally linked to this entry as well so it means it was worth sharing. Amazing!

2nd Place – The Shadow I want to run away from

I can still recall the feelings I had when I wrote this entry. My heart was really heavy when I wrote this. I was just a couple of days away from preaching and I was feeling really discouraged. At that moment, I just felt that strong need to write and this is what came out of that. It took me just one seating to get it all out. I haven’t always had that much confidence in my writing because I tend to mix up words and letters when I write. But this entry made me realize that somehow, with God’s help, I’m able to write. This was the start of it all. This entry really holds a deep sentimental value in my heart. Try reading it and let me know if you come across the “shadow” I was referring to.

1st Place – Let’s do 8!

And the best entry goes to…*drumroll*…my B1G8 Retreat Experience – the most viewed entry. I’m not sure if it’s because there are a lot of people who are still interested in B1G8 or if there are people just looking for retreat ideas (according to my analytics). Whatever it is, I hope my experience has provided them with the information they need. This was one of my longest entries. I actually had to cut this entry short since I was afraid that I might end up boring my readers. This entry contains so much learnings. This retreat not only confirmed that I was serving in the right ministry, it also helped grow my love for my discipleship group. It has taught me valuable lessons about God and the overall experience proved to be such a blessing for me. I think one section of this entry that drew quite a strong interest from readers, was the part where I wrote down what happened during fellowship night. I can still remember it – my hopeful love story ending in failure. Haha.

Indeed, time flew by so fast. At this point, I’m just glad that God has lead me to write and I want nothing more than to glorify His name and bless other people through my humble entries. It’s been only a year but I have a feeling that I will continue to write as long as I can. Who knows? Maybe even write a book someday. To Him be the glory alone!

How about you? May I know if there is any article that you liked or would want me to write about?

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