Even for just one day, a retreat allows you to slow down, clear your mind, and center your vision on what truly matters; it’s hard to quantify the value of that kind of contemplative experience. But when you are gathered with peers from your faith community at a setting designed for spiritual growth for the singular purpose of leaning into a closer walk with God, you’ll understand that a retreat can inspire the type of personal, spiritual growth that few other things can.
Retreats are influential in general, but taking them off-site can be even more so. While retreats are often thought of as a getaway, there are plenty of reasons event planners stick to their church: cost, familiarity with facilities, distance, etc. Even though these are all good reasons, taking the event to a different location can greatly enhance the experience. Off-site venues offer neutral turf for all, aid in guest attentiveness, and, most importantly, venues are made for this.
No Man’s Land
The actual church building can be an intimidating structure for non-church goers, which is what can make it so hard to get them in the door. Putting everyone in a neutral facility makes for equality amongst congregation members, guests, and leaders. Retreats are a great way to introduce potential new members to your congregation. You can invite other people in the community, who may then begin to attend your church. Ask students to invite their friends on a youth retreat. They will have so much fun, they may just want to come back and see what else the church has to offer. If your church is looking to expand, a retreat might be just the thing to get on your doorstep.
Although members of a congregation see each other on a weekly basis, odds are they may not really know each other that well. When you get away from home on a retreat, you bond with others in a unique way. You eat your meals together. You read the Word together. You sleep in the same room. You share the same bathroom. There’s a certain amount of unavoidable togetherness that happens when you share a bathroom with someone new. For those two or three days on that retreat, you’re basically living together. And these shared experiences are the building blocks for long-term, Christ-centered relationships.
Hit the Road, Jack!
Taking guests to a new location not only brings them together, but also pulls them away from the distractions of their everyday world. These distractions can make it hard to keep the attention of attendees while at a retreat at the church. You will get people running in and out, constantly needing to answer phones and check on the kids. It can be hard to actually get anything done. Taking everyone to a different location can help to eliminate the possibility of needing to leave or do something else. Off-site events are all planned out so that guests would have no reason to leave. When people invest in an off-site retreat, they drop the stresses and commitments of daily life, leaving them open to fully engage in your program.
Leave It to the Pros
Lastly, the best reason to take your group off-site is because retreat and conference centers are made for this. They have everything you need: lodging, meeting space, dining and recreation. Not to mention, religious retreat centers run in a way to keep God at the forefront of your event. There’s no need to haul crockpots and coolers for your ladies outing or worry over wild teenagers running through a hotel lobby. Plus, the venue will help with the planning process!
There are so many great things that happen at off-site retreats, and there are few better ways to restore your faith, renew your soul, and reconnect with God.
This article was written by the sales and marketing teams of the Christian Retreats Network, home to 7 properties in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, West Virginia, and Virginia, www.ChristianRetreatsNetwork.org.