Leading an effective retreat is really hard work. There are so many moving parts that have to come together if the weekend is going to be effective.
If you have ever planned one, then you know what I am talking about. Travel, lodging, meeting space, food, fun, leaders, the speaker, rules, games, small group notes, the band, T-shirts, snacks, medical kits, sound, lights and video all have to have our attention if we are going to maximize any retreat experience. In our student ministry we pull off several retreat experiences for teens every year, and we love to watch God work when we pull students out of their normal routine. We have learned a few moves that help make the weekend have more impact. Here are a few of them …
1. Make every retreat experience a small group experience // We have found events have more impact when small groups are a part of them. One retreat is the same as seven weeks of weekly programming because of the memories made. For every retreat, use as many group leaders as possible!
2. Empower great administrative leaders to work the details // There are leaders who love details and they are really good at them. LET THEM HELP YOU!
3. Push students spiritually and have tons of fun // You need lots of both in every retreat!
4. Don’t over-program // Make sure you plan every gathering with focus. Don’t try to pack so many elements into every session that you lose the chance for teens to understand what you are saying!
5. Partner with facilities that work well with your ministry // Find people you enjoy working with and stay with them. We have several facilities we keep going back to because we love the partnership, and they support us every year!
6. Set your communicators and band up to succeed // Make sure they know the makeup of your group, send the band songs you have been doing, Work with your communicator so that group content and the message is in sync, make sure both band and speaker have space to rest during the weekend.
What has helped you have better retreats? Give me some feedback!