If you're new to the idea of hosting a church retreat or just want to make sure everything goes smoothly, this article is for you. We'll walk through all aspects of planning your own retreat so that you can be sure it's successful and enjoyable for everyone involved!
Why do a church retreat?
- Go on a retreat to connect with God. You're probably already in the habit of spending time alone with God, but that doesn't mean it isn't important! It is especially important for leaders like you who lead others in their faith and want to keep growing.
- Go on a retreat to connect with other people. As a leader, it can be easy to become isolated from those you serve and work alongside as you try to keep everything going smoothly in your church or ministry. A retreat provides an opportunity for leaders in your organization or congregation to step away from their regular duties and spend some time together building relationships over meals, games, service projects and worship services.
- Go on a retreat because you need some downtime away from the everyday grind at home and work where there are constant demands placed upon us all day every day by various tasks that must be done (going grocery shopping being just one example). Being able to get away from these distractions gives us an opportunity for rest which helps refresh our minds so we can think more clearly about what needs done tomorrow at home or work when we get back there after our break away from these responsibilities.
Tips in planning a church retreat
1. Set a budget.
When you're planning a church retreat, it's important to set a budget. Before you start looking at venues and booking dates, figure out how much money you have available for the retreat. Don't go into debt; if you don't have enough funds, consider asking your congregation for donations or reaching out to other churches in your area that might be able to help coordinate events with you.
Also keep in mind that there are many types of activities that can be done on the cheap-like having an indoor scavenger hunt or hosting an arts and crafts session in one of the meeting rooms-and these may be more fulfilling than splurging on pricey activities like white-water rafting or paintballing.
2. Decide on a time for your retreat.
When choosing a date for your retreat, you should consider the following:
- The time of year. A retreat in the middle of winter is not very conducive to outdoor activities, but it's also hard to find indoor ones that won't require heating. If you choose a summertime retreat, you may be able to do more outdoor activities.
- What other events are happening around that time in your congregation? Is there another event that might clash with yours or cause people to be absent from both? For example, does an annual conference coincide with your event? Can some members only come if they have been invited elsewhere because their own church isn't having anything going on during this time period?
- How far away or how close are you willing to travel-and which direction would be better for those who need transportation assistance (i.e., wheelchairs)?
3. Select the retreat location.
Now that you've decided on a theme and have a good idea of what activities you want to include, it's time to select your retreat location. Remember, this is not just a party; it's a time to focus on God and build up your spiritual strength as a community. This will make the difference between an awesome experience and one that feels forced or awkward.
Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for your retreat location:
- Do some research on the area before selecting one - especially if it's somewhere new for everyone involved! You'll want something affordable, safe and convenient for everyone who plans on attending (and maybe even those who don't). If possible, avoid choosing somewhere that requires overnight accommodations so people can go home after dinner instead of having extra costs associated with staying over night at one place or another (especially if money is tight). Also try not choose anything that would require driving more than 30 minutes away from where everyone lives - especially if traffic conditions aren't ideal during rush hour (which happens often!). Finally make sure whatever place you pick has enough space both indoors.
4. Choose leaders and a group of participants.
The next step is to choose leaders for your retreat. These are the people who will help you plan and run the event, who will be responsible for making sure that everything is done on time, and who will make sure that all participants have a great time.
You want to choose leaders who are good at planning events and keeping people engaged, as well as those who can keep participants focused on their tasks. It also helps if these leaders have experience with planning retreats or leading groups of people through activities like yours (e.g., if you're doing hiking or camping).
5. Host an informational session and registration process for potential attendees.
To get the word out, you'll need to send an e-mail invitation to the church community and its members' friends. This is also a good time to let people know what they can expect from a church retreat, including any costs or fees for attending (which will be paid on site). You don't want anyone turning up unprepared and having to shell out money after the fact.
6. Finalize the schedule, including meals, snacks, and any downtime at night or early in the morning.
In addition to the schedule for each day of the retreat, you should also consider your meals. You'll want to arrange for breakfast, lunch and dinner on all three days of your retreat. If you're going off-site for your retreat, make sure that there are options available at local restaurants or cafes if people prefer not to cook themselves.
You should also plan a few snacks in between meals so that people don't get too hungry during their time away from home. A good rule of thumb is one snack every three hours!
Finally, make sure you think about when you'll be eating and sleeping during each day of your retreat. It's important that everyone has enough energy throughout the day-and night-so plan accordingly!
7. You don't have to do this all by yourself!
You don't have to do this all by yourself! You can ask for help from your church, or from friends and family, or from the community around you. Whether it's just one person helping out with something small or a team working together on the big stuff, having the support of others will make everything easier (and more fun).
When we hosted our retreat at my church, I asked for volunteers on Facebook and got about 20 people who were interested in doing something. We were able to get everything set up simply because there were enough people willing to pitch in their time and energy!
We hope this article has helped you to plan your church retreat. Remember, there are many others who will be able to assist you with the planning process and make sure that everything goes smoothly on the day of your event.