Retreats have been on a freeze with the COVID-19 pandemic restricting group gatherings. Not even being able to attend a live church service has made a huge impact. As things start to pick back up again, many are still left financially distraught from loss of income. Which begs the question for many ministries: “Can we afford to host a retreat?”
Whether or not your church was already planning an event, the odds are pretty good that the budget has shifted since last year. This can lead many leaders/planning teams to just scrap a retreat and try again next year. Don’t jump the gun! There are many ways to make retreats more affordable that still give the exceptional ministry value. And in times like these, your church members may need a retreat more than ever.
The primary expense is the venue, so that is where your shopping should start. Some planners immediately look at hosting an event at their church. Which is fine. It is a place where guests are comfortable, and planners know where everything is. But that also means having to bring in a lot of stuff to turn the building into a retreat environment. A similar problem arises if you simply go to a hotel. They may have the beds, but now you will have to find locations for meetings, recreation, activities, dining and more. Not only is that a hassle, but also the cost really starts to add up. Look into an all-inclusive venue. Bundled packages provide a full experience at a cheaper rate.
The second part of the budget that can be drastically cut is during the promotion phase. Take advantage of free tools to promote the event. Social media is completely free and something most planners are already using anyway. Create a Facebook event and utilize the church page for announcements and links to register. It is also important to put all of the information on the church website, too. For a more direct approach, get the church email list and send out an email invitation. No printing means there is no cost for materials or postage.
Size matters when it comes to cost. No, I’m not talking about buying in bulk. I’m talking about the size of your group. For set prices such as worship band, speaker or any other group-related expense, the more people there are to split the cost, the cheaper it is per person. Similarly, the number of people per room in lodging can make a difference in the cost. It is more effective for the venue to use less rooms. Therefore, if you fill each room to capacity, it will cost less per person for the room.
While there is still much hesitation, a small church event is very possible and can be affordable.