Summer is here and things are probably a little bit quieter around your office these days. This lull in your ministry can be a great blessing! How will you take advantage?

If you’re considering a staff retreat, you’re in good company. Countless churches, schools, and non-profit organizations have turned summer retreats into can’t-miss annual events. A retreat can help your staff learn to rely on Jesus more completely. It allows time for them to refocus on showing love, conveying wisdom, and acting with purposefulness in serving others through your ministry.

As one staff development consultant says, “Retreats are powerful when they bring the right people together at the right time for the right reasons with the right process.”

At first glance, that may seem like a lot of pressure—how do you get all of the rights to align perfectly for your team? Keep reading to learn how the 5 W’s can guide you in planning a Christian staff retreat.


This one is fairly easy—invite your staff members! But you may also want to look beyond the people who sit in your office. Do you have a few key volunteers who are intimately involved in your ministry? Do you have board members that could make important contributions during the retreat? A retreat is kind of like a meeting of your extended family, so be sure not to leave anybody out!


A retreat is just that—a time to get away and withdraw from your normal surroundings. Take this part seriously. Don’t plan a retreat that feels like a normal staff meeting. Don’t engage in the same run-of-the-mill discussions that usually bog down your staff. Turn off your cell phones and turn on your out-of-office replies. Create a retreat agenda that will really press your team to get out of their comfort zone. Let God lead your discussions and pray that his wisdom will propel your group in moving your ministry forward.


Since retreats are meant to get your team out of their normal surroundings, off-site retreats are the best option. Ask around to see if any of the members in your ministry have a vacation space or rental house that you could use for a discounted price. If your group is up for it, go camping or look for cabins to rent. If your budget doesn’t allow for an off-site retreat, do your best to create a new space within your old space. Decorate or rearrange your meeting room. For example, bring in some beanbag chairs, lamps, and portable whiteboards.


The schedule of your retreat depends on your group’s preferences. Two days is usually plenty of time, but you can make a lot of progress in just a few hours, too. Be sure to include time for group discussion, small-group breakouts, and personal reflection. Try not to make the schedule overly strict. Give your staff members time to relax and enjoy their coworkers.


The specific goals of your retreat may vary year to year, but the overarching theme remains the same: to better serve Jesus and your ministry members. Keep this goal at the center of all your retreat activities!


CTA has created several retreat planning guides that check off each one of the 5 W’s. You’ll get tips for everything from booking a speaker to making hotel reservations to ordering gifts for the participants. Plus, each guide includes sample schedules and discussion outlines that keep the focus on Jesus. Best of all, these retreat planning guides are totally FREE and they’re available for download now!


You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2016 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.

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