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Picking a Theme for Your Church Retreat

May 1, 2017 jill Blog
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Having a central, driving theme is essential for a successful large event. It ties all the pieces of the retreat together, creates atmosphere, and makes it memorable for guests.

Whether you’ve planned one-hundred events, ten, or only two, it’s always beneficial to evaluate your planning process. As you assess your method for theme selection and execution, consider the suggestions below. You may glean new ideas for tackling the process, twists on common theme ideas, or some additional ways to tie your theme into your event.


Before you begin brainstorming, ask God for direction. Pray specifically for wisdom, creative ideas, and event success. Covering your planning time in prayer will keep your heart and mind open to God’s leading.

As attendees register for the event, consider praying for them by name. Also, remember to pray specifically for each person involved in the event, from the keynote speaker(s) and each worship team member to the tech crew and venue staff.

On the day of the event, do a prayer walk around the venue. During your walk, pray over each seat, the stage area, registration table, and other key areas.


Review the event’s purpose, goals, and audience with your client or planning committee. Once everyone is on the same page, ask yourselves what you want attendees to think or feel as they leave the event. In other words, what is the one big idea or key call to action that you want them to remember or act upon?

Has a keynote speaker already been selected? If so, find out whether or not he or she already has a topic or subject in mind. If so, embrace that topic and flesh it out so that it is a complete and whole theme.

Based on your answers, start brainstorming concepts, themes, and taglines. Some ideas include Bible verses, Christian song titles, or upcoming holidays.

Narrow down your list of themes to four or five, and then run them by a few trusted people outside of your team for input. Ask them if the theme and tagline make sense and connect logically to the event’s purpose. Based on the feedback you receive, you and your client or team can confidently settle on a theme.

Don’t forget to inform your keynote speaker of the selected theme and tagline.

Embrace the Theme

Once your theme is decided, focus on incorporating it into all aspects of your planning.

Let your venue sales representative know about your event’s theme. Ask if they have ideas or ways to enhance the theme, be it a particular color of tablecloths, a theme-infused dessert reception, etc. It never hurts to ask.

Here are a few ways you can include your theme into your event. This is not an exhaustive list, but you may find one or two new ideas that you might like to try.

  • Choose a color scheme.
  • Create an event logo.
  • Incorporate the color scheme, logo, and tagline in all marketing materials (invitations, posters, social media posts, event programs, event signage, name tags, emails, post-event survey, etc.).
  • Decorate the stage according to the theme.
  • Make sure your keynote speaker and all other presenters know the theme and tagline.
  • Create a uniform PPT template for the keynote speaker and any other presenters to use.
  • Plan theme-based special activities or entertainment (e.g. trivia with themed questions, themed meal, concert).
  • Put a themed welcome bag in each attendee’s room.
  • Outfit your event staff with shirts that bear the logo

This information is courtesy of Sandy Cove Ministries, which delivers the message of hope that JESUS NEVER FAILS by providing opportunities for rest, refuge, retreat, renewal and recreation,