Have you ever noticed that when people want to hang out, they make dinner plans? It could be lunch at a classy restaurant or breakfast at a small diner. No matter the meal or establishment, one thing is for certain, people like to eat together. “Let’s get dinner” is always the first statement made when getting together with my college friends I haven’t seen in a while. Even if we end up talking too much to really eat. The point is people bond over meals. That’s where relationships are built, while enjoying food together. It’s amazing how much people want to talk while their mouths are otherwise occupied with eating. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that during the time of a meal, people are relaxed and enjoying themselves as they fill their bellies.
This is a critical opportunity in scheduling a retreat. This is the part where the most fellowship occurs. Yes, services and activities are great ways to bond, too, but they don’t usually provide as much opportunity for conversation. Make sure to schedule plenty of time for meals, so that guests are given the opportunity to discuss with each other. And schedule every meal. Don’t forget about breakfast. Every group should get three opportunities a day to eat together. Guests may want to talk about how much fun the blob was at the lake or how they felt God’s presence during one of the songs at worship. Don’t rush them by only giving enough time to eat before carting them off to the next slot on the agenda. Worse than that is not scheduling meals together. Either breaking up the group for meal times or leaving them to fend for themselves deprives guests of such an opportunity. Remember what your retreat is for: bringing guests closer to God and each other. So, don’t skimp out on meal times. Use them to enhance the experience of your retreat.