Whether you have a huge staff or just a handful of loyal warriors, a staff retreat is a terrific way to reward hard work, deepen personal ties, build unity, and set aside time to simply be. Here are some tips for creating a great staff retreat.
- First, distance is important. There is something special about putting distance between normal life and the retreat setting. It doesn’t have to be a long distance, but you need to feel like you are getting away. It can be a retreat center, a hotel, or a state park.
- If you can incorporate something fun and out of the ordinary, that can really help build friendships and create memories. It could be a bowling party, a paintball game, a water balloon fight, a cooking class, a movie, or a play. You get the idea…have some fun. If you aren’t the “fun” person, ask someone who is good at this sort of thing to plan something for you.
- Consider bringing in a counselor or speaker/pastor who can lead devotions and prayer times. This shouldn’t be something you do. You need the renewal time, too. Perhaps this person could be available for individual prayer and counsel with your staff.
- Make work goals specific and obtainable. Of course, there will be time to accomplish work, but don’t make the work so overwhelming that it becomes stressful. For example, if you are calendar planning, plan for six months in detail and only provide an outline for the other six months.
- Use the retreat as a way to encourage, bless, and recognize the good in your staff. Awards, cards, even silly hats and buttons go a long way in making your staff feel appreciated and recognized. Enlist your congregation in saying thank you, but don’t leave it all up to others because your appreciation is what really matters most.
At one time staff retreats were about getting a lot of work done, but we’ve learned from corporate retreats that there are real benefits to getting away and building community. If we think about it, isn’t that what Jesus did with his group? He got away often with the disciples. He added fun to the times set aside for devotion and prayer, and he found ways to show specific appreciation for the gifts in his men. Yes, they worked while they were away, but the main goal was always to build the team, to build community. He knew that it was the trust they built with each other in these times that would sustain them when it got tough later. We know these were special times imprinted on their minds because they recorded them in the gospels and all that was said and done gave them courage to stand together and spread the gospel. If only all our retreats could follow such a model.
Cheri Cowell is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary and her latest book is One Story, One Mission, One God Bible study is available from her website and your favorite online retailer. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com.