Retreats are great resources for any church group or ministry organization. They can be used to provide training and education, to cultivate and strengthen relationships, and to give an outlet for recreation and fellowship. As valuable as a retreat can be, it requires a lot of advanced planning and preparation.
The following checklist has been compiled in order to make retreat planning easier by providing a comprehensive checklist of things to consider, organize and do. It is advisable to have a retreat planning team in place before getting started.
Checklist planning sections can be divided among individuals or groups with set tasks assigned to each group.
- Determine your audience. For whom is this retreat planned: men, women, couples, singles, youth?
- Create a theme. Having a central idea makes organizing speakers and activities easier.
- Schedule coordinating activities. Choose activities that fit the theme and meet the needs of attendees.
- Set a date for the event.
- Create a budget to include costs of promotion, venue, activities, food, supplies, etc.
- Secure a venue. Decide how much service you need for your group. A full-service venue is recommended, but a self-service venue may be more fitting for your budget. It is also important to find out how many attendees a venue can accommodate.
- Determine cost for attendees. How much will you need to charge in order to cover costs?
- Contact speakers/guest presenters. Find out if they are available on your set dates and how much they charge.
- Determine a schedule of events. Decide on times for meetings, seminars, organized activities and meals. Be sure to leave room for unstructured personal time.
- If you are using a self-service facility, plan a daily menu with available options.
- Send out mail and/or email informational brochures or newsletters.
- Create a social media event page on Facebook or Twitter for promotion, updates and reminders. Social media is often the fastest way to communicate to an audience.
- Set deadlines for sign-ups and/or deposits. It is easier to coordinate if you can get a solid count of attendees early on in planning.
- Check in with the venue to ensure the location and staff are ready for your event.
- Check in with speaker/guest presenter to ensure he or she is still on board and prepared. It is advisable to have a back-up speaker available should there be any last minute changes. Emergencies happen, so it is always better to be prepared.
- Meet with your volunteers and planning team to go over schedules and checklists. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and has all the needed supplies and equipment.
Planning a retreat does not have to be a source of stress. Having an enthusiastic and competent planning team helping you to bear the load will go a long way toward a successful retreat.
Plan as far ahead as possible and don’t be afraid to delegate. A balanced and well-coordinated event will be the most enjoyable for your guests and for you.