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How to Encourage Hesitant Guests to Attend Their First Retreat

By Heath

It’s retreat season, and you can guarantee that people in your ministry group will be excited! Event planners will be thrilled to see their retreats come to fruition, parents and children will be jumping for joy for a week filled with activities and worship, and other members will just be happy to have some R&R time on their schedules. Despite there being much anticipation for off-site events this summer, individuals who have never experienced retreats may not be so enthused and will come up with every excuse to get out of going. This is where you can encourage them to attend!

"My whole summer is busy."

The classic excuse to getting out of something is, “I am busy.” Swimming lessons, ball games, and vacations. You name it. Everyone has packed schedules during the summer, but that doesn’t mean they should skip right over an off-site retreat. Lying about being busy to avoid something new and special is even worse! Tell your hesitant friends and other members of your church that an off-site event is life changing and all of their extracurricular activities will still be there when they get back. Minor plans can always be changed but never pressure others to attend if they have another major conflict already on their schedule!

"I can’t afford it."

Money does place an impact on certain endeavors that we can pursue. Although, quickly brushing off the idea of attending a retreat by saying it’s too much isn’t enough without asking questions first. If members from your ministry group do this, break down the numbers and amenities of the event or have them talk to someone who might know more, such as your event planner or pastor, in order for them to see the true costs. Sadly, the price tag of an off-site event may truly be too much of an expense for some people to where they won’t be able to attend. When this is the case, offer to help with some of that person’s finances or see if the venue you are staying at offers per-person discounts to larger groups. Talk about a win-win. The more the merrier means a lesser cost for each attendee. In the end, the short-term investment of an off-site event will harvest long-term gains.

"I’m afraid others will judge me."

Those who have never been on retreats with their church may also be quick to say no because they feel as if others will judge them for attending. Unfortunately, some people have a misconception that retreats are only for those who are struggling. While it may be true that a number of attendees are eager about a retreat because they need to reconnect with God and address the challenges in their lives, that does not mean everybody is attending for the same reason. Inspire others to attend their first event by first having them put that silly notion about retreats behind them. Then talk to them about the true benefits you have personally experienced after attending an event.

Some people might also actually be wrestling with an issue but are afraid to be public about it. Let those individuals know that we all face hardships in life. As a result, it’s completely normal to call out to God and others for help. Nobody will judge them for seeking assistance.

"My relationship with God is good. Why do I have to attend a retreat?"

If several members from your church say they are in a good place with God, that is amazing! Sing hallelujah! Glory to His name! However, that still isn’t necessarily enough for them to think they do not have to tag along for a retreat. Inform them that they, too, can have an impact on others who are needing to rekindle their love for the Lord. For instance, they would be an asset to the event by simply lending a hand with the set up of activities or doing something greater, such as spreading the gospel to those who do not know Him and praying for those who need miracles. Even though other people’s connection with Christ might seem perfect at the moment, that doesn’t mean they can’t boost up those who yearn for help in their own walk.

Overall, there are many justifications individuals can give to initially explain why they are not able to attend their first retreat. It’s important to listen to their situation and encourage them to join the gang. Those hesitant members will definitely thank you in the long run.

Christian Retreats Network /

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