Finding the time and money to go offsite with your annual staff vision retreat challenges every leader. Therefore, the temptation to lay up and schedule yet another week in the church conference room lulls us into yet another year of marginally effective visioning.
In the name of stewardship or saving money, you may be sacrificing the team’s development in an exponentially effective environment. In reality, many church teams cannot afford to NOT get away for a short-term, focused season of team and vision development. With intentionality and planning, any team can find some way to get away together.
Here are 14 reasons why your church staff retreats are better and will accomplish more offsite:
- Focus drifts in the church conference room. You may only have 50% of the staff’s attention, at best, inside church walls.
- Relational roots grow deep on the uncommon ground. Late nights and early mornings are where teams form.
- Team building exercises in “low ropes” environments feel cheesy, but they are effective. Just remember that adults hate the “trust fall.”
- Distance provides perspective. Sometimes getting away from the church building right-sizes ministry challenges.
- Too much rhythm dulls our senses. Forced breaks can be a healthy disruption to status quo ministry activity or the weekly crush of Sunday programming.
- There will always be a ministry fire burning, they will flare up before you leave, and there will be plenty of flames when you get home. Getting away allows others to serve as firefighters.
- There is a return on investment to growing and being a team that compounds exponentially over time. Retreats are not a dollar-for-dollar investment.
- Celebrating ministry wins offsite extends far beyond the moment. You can leverage memory of a place to reinforce mission accomplishment down the road.
- Most church conference rooms are boring. God’s creative work in nature resonates with the nature of the Creator in us.
- It’s healthy to schedule some unscheduled time together. Meeting agendas are a means rather than the ends when you gather offsite.
- Your team faces significant ministry challenges every day. Fun times away are life-giving and sustaining to their mental and leadership health.
- Looking forward to a shared experience creates team synergy. The weeks leading up to a retreat bring energy and focus as you plan and prepare.
- Stories from offsite meetings become a part of our cultural folklore. Shared memories and laughter carry forward indefinitely within a group of people.
- Putting effort and resources into planning time away with your team communicates value.
Selecting a Location
Here are three rules for selecting a location for an offsite vision retreat.
Go . . .
. . . someplace beautiful. Unless you live in Houston, TX, you will not have far to drive to find the wonder of God’s creation. Kidding, not kidding, Houston!
. . . somewhere interesting. Find a place with a story and bring home as much inspiration from it as you can.
. . . somewhat away. Get enough separation from the “every day” to nurture a focus on the “one day” of God’s preferred future.
Building time and budget into getting away with your staff team is worth it. Your staff and your congregation will reap the benefits of the encouragement, rest, and community catalyzed by offsite retreats.