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Running an Annual Planning Retreat for Your Church

#4 – Get away.

It’s not going to be convenient for every person that needs to attend, but the best annual retreats are out of the office.

Mark Batterson says, “A change of place and a change of pace equals a change in perspective.”

That’s one reason getting a retreat on the calendar and getting away works well.

Maybe there’s a church member who owns a vacation property. Maybe you can save up reward points throughout the year.  Maybe you can put it in the budget. But however you choose to fund this retreat, it’s worth the expense and effort.

For most churches, a two-day experience will work great. Here’s the schedule we recommend.

Day One

9am – Noon: One Page Ministry Plan

Noon – 2pm: Break

2pm – 5pm: Annual Goals

5pm – 7pm: Break

7pm: Dinner and Discuss Issues Raised Throughout Day

Day Two

9am – Noon: Annual Calendar

Customize and change the schedule as you need, but decide on it in advance and make sure there is someone at the retreat who will keep things moving.

#5 – If possible, bring in someone to run the retreat.

The best planning retreats and strategic meetings I’ve been involved in have had one thing in common: Someone is in charge.

The person in charge of the church may not need to be the person in charge of the meeting. In fact, great leaders often know there are people more gifted and qualified at important tasks.

This makes sense because some people are better at running meetings than others. Keeping the conversation moving according to the schedule, while still being sensitive to issues that come up…that’s a skill. Pushing for a decision after there’s been enough conversation…that’s a skill.

I’ve had the opportunity to sit in several strategic meetings kept on schedule by an outside facilitator—a person not officially a part of the organization but hired just for this purpose. And the results are always significant.

There are people who specialize in this. There are specializes who can come in and guide your annual planning process. It’s worth it.

Even if you choose to go in a different direction, appoint the best person to be in charge of the retreat and the schedule. It doesn’t have to be the final decision maker.

#6 – End with a calendar session, including follow-up meetings.

By design, you’ll wrestle with a lot of big ideas during your annual retreat. But as you come to a close, you’ll want to move from ideas to execution.

A calendar is a great place to do this. You can start with the annual calendar, which is more of an “at-a-glance” monthly snapshot. And you can move to specific dates as you have time. But the most important thing is to make sure you know when the big things are happening.

Here are some things you’ll want to put on your calendar:

  1. Major church events like Easter or VBS. Anything that’s church wide should take precedence and you shouldn’t plan other things to compete.
  2. Communication for those major church events. When do you need to start planning and start announcing?
  3. When are you recruiting volunteers? I’m talking about a church-wide emphasis that supports and helps every ministry.
  4. When are you emphasizing groups? Again, you want to make sure this is church-wide and involves all of your communication channels.
  5. Major teaching series if you know them. How great would it be if your teaching on biblical community coincided with the launch of a new semester of groups?
  6. Staff focus days where you can pull out your annual plan and review goals, metrics and responsibilities. I recommend one day a quarter.

The annual planning retreat can help you lead your church to healthy growth. It’s a great opportunity to step back from the day-to-day operations of the church to focus on the big picture.

Take a Next Step

You can get our one page ministry plan template (along with a separate version for each ministry and an annual calendar template to tie it all together) here.

The templates are a part of a three-module course called “Creating an Annual Plan.” It also comes with coaching that explains every step of the process. You, your staff or your key leaders can use this course to create a growth plan for the coming year.

You and your team could watch the training videos to lead up to your own annual retreat.

Learn more and get the resources here.

This article originally appeared here.