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Christian Retreats Network

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Retreat Scheduling Methodology

By Zach

Many event planners have pretty lofty goals of what they would like to accomplish. Often we simplify our goals down to a weekend of discipleship and fellowship. Either goal by itself takes time to accomplish - discipleship requires time for teaching, study, and Q&A. Where as fellowship that is anything more than superficial acquaintance making needs group activities, unique experiences like team building, and free time. Add in a service project, time to eat, sleep, and clean-up, and any travel time and your weekend is JAM Packed! I have a couple thoughts on organizing your event schedule:

First, the most important thing to keep in mind when planning your schedule is to keep your event's goals in front of you. Each activity should contribute to meeting that goal in some way. Taking time for the essentials like eating, sleeping, and traveling is just as important as the worship service and prayer time. Eating may not be a "spiritual" experience for everyone but it is essential to re-charge your guest's body's.

I attended a couple of seminars lead by Jeff Hurt, a veteran meeting planner and expert about learning styles. He reminded me about an important fact... learning -- making a memory is a chemical activity in the brain. These activities require energy. You probably can't command your guests to eat a balanced diet, but you can provide adequate time for eating and sleeping each day during your event.

With your goals in front of you can start to organize the schedule. I'm visual so I find a whiteboard and stack of post-its really helpful. I write out each activity on a post-it then start to organize them on the white-board. If I can't get all the post-its on the board... then I start to prioritize.

Some activities have a dual purpose, others only one... A service project can be a great way to give back, provide fellowship, and make memories. Where as hang-out time might only provide fellowship. Obviously a late-night service project probably doesn't work as well as late-night hang-out time. So I'd organize my post-its accordingly, service project in the afternoon and hang-out time later in the evening.

Once the post-its are arranged  and prioritized you can assign start and end times. I like to give the most important activities a duration first, follow-up with the secondary activities / meals / sleeping etc., and then pencil in start and end times. Finally, make one more pass adjusting these times to ensure there is adequate time for traveling from place to place etc.

Last week I completely overbooked myself... to the point where I really struggled to focus on anything by the end of the week. So many things were bouncing around in my head that nothing coherent could be produced. All together it left a number of things unchecked on my to-do list. An overbooked event can cause similar results for your guests. Leaving them confused about what they gained by attending  - this can keep guests from returning next year.

How will you/do you keep your event on track and focus on meeting your goals?

Christian Retreats Network /

Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626