How to Plan a Last-Minute Retreat

Posted on April 25, 2019 by Erin Culleny in Retreat Planning

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Women writing in notebook

Planning a retreat takes a lot of work – but it seems a lot tougher when you have to plan it at the last minute. The good news: You can accelerate the retreat planning process and still stay on track to host the most memorable event of the year.

How to Plan a Retreat on Short Notice

First things first: zero in on your venue. Choose a retreat center based on your goals for the gathering first and foremost. Your retreat center will help you pull the details together and work with you to ensure it’s everything you need it to be.

Related: 3 Steps to Choosing the Best Retreat Center Based on Your Audience

After you’ve chosen the best retreat center, follow these steps:

  1. Look for funding
  2. Find speakers and plan events
  3. Promote your event
  4. Plan for check-ins and other details

Tackle the most time-consuming, toughest items first so you have plenty of time to nail everything down. Funding is usually the toughest challenge, and typically requires the most planning – but minor details, like checking in your guests and choosing blocks of rooms, can either be left to the retreat center or handled when the rest of the event is good to go.

1. Look for Funding for Your Church Retreat

If funding is an issue, start raising money immediately. You may choose to host a ticketed dinner, hold a silent auction, or ask members of your congregation to donate items for a church-wide yard sale. A yard sale may be your best bet if you’re planning on short notice because it mainly relies on individual congregants to volunteer for the bulk of the work.

2. Find Speakers and Plan Events

While many speakers plan months ahead, there will be some – including from your team of ministers – who can help you make things happen. Look in places you might not ordinarily think to look, such as:

  • Church childcare providers, who can speak about combining the Word with effective child-rearing
  • Ladies’ club administrators or the minister’s wife, who can engage and enlighten your guests on the unique trials that women face
  • Professionals who have to juggle their obligations to work with their obligations to the church

When it comes to planning events that will take place during the retreat, get input from people who have attended your congregation’s retreats in the past. What was popular (and what was not)? What do people wish they’d been able to do?

If you’re pressed for time, keep event planning simple. Arrange a family fun day that revolves around recreational opportunities the retreat already provides, like an afternoon at the swimming pool and gymnasium, picnic time around a private lake or frisbee golf games. You can also plan a day at nearby attractions, like the beach or popular museums, amusement parks or natural points of interest.

3. Promote Your Event

As you begin fundraising, start promoting your event. The more people you can reach, the better – and that means you can’t limit yourself to a few announcements at church. The fastest ways to get the word out when you don’t have much time include:

  • Creating a Facebook page
  • Putting up a sign at church
  • Passing out flyers to congregants
  • Creating YouTube videos about the upcoming retreat that you can feature on your Facebook page

4. Plan for Check-Ins and Other Details

In most cases, your retreat center will help you manage the details surrounding check-ins, dining, lodging, and other necessities. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help – it’s usually available.

Are You Planning a Last-Minute Church Retreat?

America’s Keswick provides plenty of space and amenities to host your last-minute retreat. If you have questions about our facilities, please contact us. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you get on track to your church’s best retreat yet.

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