Before planning any event, even a repeat event, it doesn't hurt to take a moment to consider the mission of your ministry. Considering your mission and its relevancy is number one, but then considering what goals need to be set in order to assist your ministry in meeting this mission.
At Christian Retreats Network, our mission is hosting off-site ministry events. Thats what we do, but we don't just do it to have lots of vistors to our locations. We host events because we believe they are life changing events that help ministries achieve their own mission.
It might seem a little "pie-in-the-sky" to you to try to plan missionally. You are facing a limited budget or mandates from above. These financial constraints weigh heavily on an event planner. Let me encouage you to start thinking "if money wasn't an issue what would I do?" Economics might tame these plans but let those contraints be secondary to coming up with an event format and venue that allows you to accomplish the mission.
Let's consider the plus items of planning events for the day versus overnight and on-site where your organization holds their meetings regularly or off-site. The key is to establish goals first that all contribute to the mission of your organization then choose a format that allows you to achieve those goals.
Pluses for on-site events:
- Home Turf - Host at your home church. You know the resources that are on hand and this is easy to coordinate.
- Come & Go - Personal conflicts are less likely to prevent attendance, BUT more likely to distract or result in early departure.
- Baby sitter - It's much easier to coordinate someone to watch the kids for a day than a weekend for many families or you can use the church nursery.
Pluses for off-site events:
- Neutral Territory - Some people have a real stigma about going to church or even attending an event at a church, but an off-site event is neutral territory for everyone.
- Focus & Attention - People set aside all their other usual commitments to invest in what you're presenting at the retreat.
- Out of the ordinary - A unique setting creates memories for attendees and their family.
Pluses for day events:
- Focused Activity - You can pack a real punch in a short amount of time.
- Easy Invite - You can easily invite a friend to come along to an event that is happening close to home for a few hours.
- Flexibility - At any point you can still choose to go off-site, pending availability of local conference/meeting venues.
Pluses for overnight events:
- Free time - At an off-site event even down time is beneficial. Instead of leaving to go run an errand, people have time to build relationships.
- Bring the kids - You can turn overnight events into a family affair, expose each age group to the things your church has to offer all at once. There is additional savings to be realized by packing multiple 'mini' events into one larger.
Have you given consideration to the format that will let your organization meet its mission best?