Why Retreats are the Secret Ingredient of Church Growth

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retreats secret ingredient of church growthFrom the earliest days to present times, growth has been a primary focus of the church. Growth is the unit by which church ministries and programs are measured. If these programs see growth, they are considered to be successful. Many churches find growth difficult to attain, despite numerous activities and ministries within the church. In those cases, it may be helpful to take those ministries and programs outside the church building. Church retreats are useful tools for uniting existing members and encouraging church growth.

Within the four walls of any church building many people feel the need to put on a “church face.” They act differently, talk differently, and are generally more reserved and even uptight. A church retreat can give an opportunity for people to relax, be more open, to be more themselves while maintaining a Christian atmosphere. A church retreat is a great way to bridge the gap between church and the world outside the sanctuary doors.

Church growth is often lacking because there is little harmony between specific groups. Many times the people in specific groups (men, women, youth, single adults, couples retreat, etc.) are not well-acquainted and know each other only within the church. A retreat can help the individuals in those groups get to know each other through activities specifically designed to get them talking, sharing and working together.

Retreats can offer team building exercises and activities to strengthen groups and individuals and help members bond. Specific ministries can benefit greatly through such activities by learning where the weak spots are and how they can overcome them. Such knowledge can then be put to practical use within the church. When ministry leaders and church core groups are strengthened, the church as a whole can benefit. Operations run more smoothly and there is a spirit of unity within the church that reflects into the community beyond.

For those outside the church, a retreat can be a more comfortable way to get involved than perhaps coming to service on a Sunday morning or joining a ministry group. Since it takes place outside the church, non-members can be more at ease and relaxed as they take part in activities and get to know people. When they do visit a service, they are more comfortable since they have already become acquainted with some members.

This is especially true for kids and youth who are not regular church-goers. An invitation to a fun retreat is often more appealing than an invitation to a church service. Church can seem like an intimidating place for those who do not regularly attend. A retreat offers a chance to engage in church activities in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Retreats can also offer a change of pace and perspective for those regularly involved in church service. For many, church becomes a routine in which meetings and classes are attended, duties are fulfilled, but hearts and minds are not fully engaged. A retreat can be a great way to shake members out of “zombie mode” and into full attention and engagement. Guest speakers and leaders can offer new, fresh ministry ideas and team exercises can open up discussions about how best to meet specific needs.

Church growth is crucial in the life of any church, and taking church ministry beyond the four walls of the church building can help encourage church growth. Retreats are excellent ways to accomplish this. Retreats can get members out of their comfort zones, attract those not regularly involved in church services and build the solid core groups that are necessary for church growth.

Special thanks to Potomac Park Retreat and Conference Center of the Christian Retreats Network for sponsoring this article.