Dave Berry, one of the funniest guys on the planet once wrote, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: meetings.” I’m not sure if he’s 100% right, but he’s close. Meetings, and extended ones like retreats, often don’t achieve their intended purpose. Why? Because we make significant mistakes when we plan them. Consider these five mistakes and potential corrective measures.
Here are some dumb mistakes I’ve made when planning and holding retreats.
- Packing too much into a retreat (which have ranged from 1-3 days). I once handed out about 20 different documents for review and study.
- Talking too much. At times I’ve talked/taught so much that I left little time for thorough interaction.
- Going too long. As the adage goes, “The brain will absorb only what the rear can endure.”
- Not including R&R.
- Including other leaders too late into the planning process. In one church I asked our elders to join us after we had completed our planning. They ended up not being on the same page and the pastors felt like our retreat was a waste of time.
As I’ve grown in my retreat leading and planning, these factors have contributed to better success.
- Narrow your discussion to a fewer number of topics.
- Create a “talk about later” list of subjects that surface during the retreat.
- Hold your retreat off-site rather than at the office.
- Begin and end at a reasonable hour. Don’t wear people out.
- Do something fun like watch a movie together.
- Listen more that you talk. Remember the acronym, WAIT, which means Why Am I Talking?