By Erin Culleny
A church retreat is the perfect way to bring your congregation together in a new environment that allows for stronger bonds and growth. The destination and activities your group selects are just as important as the preparations.
If church members have a general idea of what to expect, what they will need for a successful retreat and take care of other preparations, the adventure will prove that much more enjoyable. Here is a look at some of the best ways to prepare your congregation for an upcoming church retreat.
1. Have Your Group Envision the Retreat Experience
Your congregation will look forward to the retreat that much more if you encourage them to envision the experience beforehand. Have your congregation prepare for this experience by writing down personal retreat goals such as getting closer to God and acceptance by way of God. It might also help to provide your team with an overarching theme to focus on. Encourage them to relate this focus to what his happening in their life.
2. Make the Entire Congregation Aware of the Upcoming Retreat
Publicize the details of the retreat so everyone who attends church services knows about it. Tout the retreat activities, location and date well ahead of time to gain interest. The sign-up period should be a month or two before the retreat is initially advertised. Make use of the church newsletter, blog, bulletin board, emails, website and other sources to advertise the church retreat. Continue to update these sources as the details of the retreat change.
Keep in mind that all it takes is relatively minor heightened awareness of the upcoming retreat to influence a couple people who in turn will spread the word to others. What matters most is that the initial awareness level is heightened at the beginning.
3. Make It Easy to Sign Up
Congregation members should be provided with all of the information they need to sign up for the church retreat. Furthermore, someone should be on-call to help members fill out sign-up materials and double check them before submission. If church members find the sign-up process to be easy, they will be that much more likely to recommend the retreat to friends and family. Just as important is the fact that an easy sign-up process will set the tone for an enjoyable retreat experience.
4. Provide an Itinerary
Each individual who is attending the church retreat should be provided with an itinerary of fun indoor and outdoor activities, meal times and other retreat events, before the retreat. This document will make it easy to prepare for the retreat, the upcoming day, and the remainder of the church retreat. Everyone will be able to consult with their itinerary to find out exactly what is going on. This information will make it easier to mentally prepare for the day’s activities. Furthermore, an itinerary will help facilitate the packing process.
5. Assist with Packing
Each retreat participant should be provided with a detailed packing checklist that explains exactly what should be packed for the week or the weekend. Though today’s retreat destinations certainly have comfortable accommodations, it will be necessary to pack a couple personal items.
Examples of things to pack for a church retreat include clothing, bathroom sundries, bug spray, reading materials, a diary, a refillable water bottle, pen, paper, and flashlights. Be sure to bring a set or two of the necessities outlined above just in case someone forgets to pack their own.
As you can see, with a little bit of extra planning and communication, you can make a big difference in how prepared your members are to participate, which will make their retreat experience all that much more enjoyable.
This information is courtesy of America’s Keswick, www.americaskeswick.org. For more than 80 years, America’s Keswick has been blessed to serve as the conference and retreat venue of choice in the tri-state area (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut).