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So, your event was a disaster…

By Kayla

Don’t be afraid to plan again! It is easy to give up when problems arise, especially if it is your first time planning. Not only is it discouraging, but it can be hard to get guests to attend again when they had a bad experience the last time. However, I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as you thought. Here’s a couple of things you can do to help make sure your next event goes off without a hitch.

  • Build a planning team. Planning alone is stressful and time consuming. They say two heads are better than one for a reason. Team members can bring in new ideas, cover specific tasks, and help take the pressure off a planner. 
  • Ask for help from other church leaders. This kind of goes along with building a planning team. If the leaders have been there for a while, find out about previous events. They may also have ideas on themes, speakers, or worship topics.
  • Revolve your goals around a need. The best way to get people to attend an event is to let them know why they NEED to go. As an event planner, it is then your job to make everything about the event meet that need. For example, if there are a lot of rambunctious youth in your church, a week at camp would definitely fill their spiritual need. This is where a theme comes in, too. Make the lessons, music, and games be centered around one idea that you want to instill in guests through this experience.
  • Fix the feedback. If your event really was that bad, people are going to tell you about it. Try not to take it to heart, but instead turn around those problems and make them into something positive for next time. Some people might even have suggestions as to what they would like to do in the future.
  • Find a better venue. The problem may not have been you or your event at all. Sometimes it’s about where you stay. If you stayed at your church, going offsite can really help the whole retreat idea. Off-site events provide neutral territory, better focus, and a unique experience that has proven to be more impactful. If you did go somewhere else, and the hospitality or accommodations were not up to your standards, there are plenty of venues that would love to serve your group. Some things to look at would be amenities offered, price, location and packages (i.e. what was included and what wasn’t?).
  • Promote. A lot of unsuccessful events stem from a lack of guests, which stems from a lack of promotion. People can’t show up to something they didn’t know about. Get the word out. Invite everyone, and encourage guests to invite others. Make sure to give them all the details so that they know what they are getting into. Make a promo video or get pictures from the venue to show guests how much fun you have planned.
  • Research. The internet is full of blogs about retreat ideas. Take a little time and find out how others have been successful, whether it be themes, recreation, or venues. What may also help is attending a similar event yourself. There’s nothing quite like hands-on experience. If you are new to planning, figuring out everything that has to be done is going to be tough. Seeing it all in action first can help you greatly in noticing both what you would want as a guest and even some tips to make the process easier.

There are a lot of aspects to an event, which leaves it open for more things to go wrong. But, even if you had an unsuccessful event this year, that doesn’t mean future ones can’t be better.

Christian Retreats Network /

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