I am thinking about hosting a winter retreat for my church’s volunteers. Do you think it’s worth it? — a reader
Is a retreat worthwhile? Jesus certainly thought so!
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:31).
Who better to retreat with than your volunteers? They’ve made time to volunteer among their other responsibilities, and they could use the rest. They’re core workers for your church’s ministry, and they are worth the investment.
A retreat offers more than just rest. It’s a time to recharge their batteries by renewing the vision, communicating vision and strategies, building unity, and strengthening relationships. It can be as simple as the Sunday school staff meeting at a local restaurant for a fellowship meal and vision-casting for the upcoming year, or as comprehensive as an all-church weekend a retreat center.
There’s also great value in offering retreats on a regular basis. It’s an ongoing statement of the high value you place on volunteers. Each retreat builds on the foundation of previous retreats. More people have opportunity to attend.
Keep in mind, though, that busy people vote with their feet. Make the retreat worth their while and communicate the value in your publicity.
- Who is it for? Key leaders or all volunteers? The more variety in the group, the more the content will need to be applicable to both men and women and to people of all generations.
- Have a clear purpose. Is it for training? Appreciation? Casting of a new vision or building on an existing vision? Introduction of upcoming changes? Individual spiritual growth? Leadership development? A retreat can have more than one of these elements, but don’t try to cram too much into one retreat. You want them to go home recharged, not drained.
- Use worthwhile content and quality presenters to keep people engaged and give them value for the time they’re investing.
- Even when the retreat is for volunteers, it’s good to involve volunteers to use their gifts in event planning, hospitality, organization, and even speaking as you plan the retreat.
- Think beyond church. ”Come with me” was Jesus’ invitation. Be Christ-centered and gospel-focused. That’s the most refreshing, recharging tool in our toolbox!