Tips for Organizing a Christian Retreat
by Rhonda Jones 5/12/2011 / Leadership
It's time for your yearly retreat. You want to plan a weekend getaway where your members can relax, unwind, and deepen their relationship with the Lord. You can easily organize a retreat that will be transformative, fun, and memorable. Just follow these easy steps.
Decide upon a theme for your retreat. Begin by thinking what you want the participants to gain from the retreat. Decide whether the retreat is for fun and fellowship, spiritual renewal, relaxation, or will revolve around a portion of scriptures. For example, if your objective for the retreat is that members feel physically and spiritually renewed, you might consider a spa retreat that includes Christian meditation, self care breakouts, relaxation treatments, and silent time with God.
Next, decide upon a location. There are literally thousands of retreat center in the country. Begin by asking friends and colleagues about popular centers they have attended. Next, go to the computer and google, "retreat centers" or even "Christian retreat centers" along with your location or where you want to have the retreat. Other words to search for are conference centers, Christian retreats, etc. You can also preview sites like Retreat Finder to locate a center. Bed and breakfasts can also be a great place to hold a retreat.
Will you have a speaker(s) at your retreat? If so, you'll need to determine your speaker budget and then find a speaker that will fit into your theme. Again, you will want to ask around for popular speakers in your area. You can also visit websites like Christian Speaker or Ministry Women and find the listings of literally thousands of speakers and topics of interest. Once you have made a list of possible speakers, contact them to find out their availability, costs, and more detailed information.
Decide upon accommodations and meal plan. Once you narrowed down the retreat facility to 3 or 4, contact each center to find out what types of accommodations they provide as well as the price. There can be a significant difference from one center and another. Also, some centers require deposits of as much as 50% upfront. Unless you have access to funds in advance, you may need to check this center off your list. Also many centers provide meals at very reasonable costs. Be sure and ask about spaces for meetings, break out sessions, or smaller workshops.
How will member's get to the retreat? At some retreats it is up to the participants to get themselves there, usually by car or carpooling. Other retreats will charter one or more busses and add the cost to the retreat prices. There are pros and cons to both of these. Weigh out your options by finding out the cost to charter a bus based upon the number of sign-ups. Now it's time to add up the costs of the retreat per person based upon the information you gathered.
Create an agenda and schedule for our event. Your schedule should include a start and end time and everything in between. Your agenda can also include a meet and greet session, speaker topics, meals, free-time, workshops, and additional activities. You'll also want to create a program for attendees and other information needed for the retreat. Be sure and include an evaluation form. You can provide each attendee with a packet when they arrive.
If your retreat is being hosted by a church you'll want to promote it to your congregation. You can promote your retreat with a flier as well as in the bulletin. Many churches will also provide a display table that includes information and sign-ups. If the event is open to the public, you'll want to write a press release about the retreat and send it to the appropriate media. Also, list your event on internet calendars like Craigslist.org, local Christian radios, and other online event venues.
Relax and enjoy. On the day of the retreat if you are well organized things should go fairly smoothly; however, don't be perplexed by a few surprises and mishaps that are sure to arise. Just do your best to rectify them and stayed relaxed, everything will work out just fine in the end.