How to Plan a Christian Retreat

by Delores Williams

Planning a getaway to connect with God can rattle even the most devoted saint. Why? Because too often the reason for the trip becomes lost in church politics. However, you can escape getting grey hair over a retreat by following and enforcing a careful plan.


Decide on having a retreat or advance: Believe it or not, that is a huge step because some places do not want their parishioners to go away.Who is it for? Is it a marriage retreat? For singles? Gender based? Youth? Churchwide?

Decide the theme of the retreat: Every retreat or advance has a theme such as, "Daughters of Destiny" or "Manna from Heaven."The purpose is to get the guests to be focused on one central area and marinate in it.

Decide on the Date: Plan at least four months in advance since you have to get the speakers, money from the participants, and plan the activities and meals.

Research retreat or campgrounds: Obviously some locations only lend themselves to one option, but you have a few options. Consider the following:1. Cost2. Travel time (one hour or less is a good rule)3. Activities (campfire, tents vs beds)Please note that most retreat centers do not consider you a group if it is under 25 people.

Book your speakers: Obviously, if the speakers are in-house, this will be simple, but if it is a national speaker then you have to come up with payment (if they charge above an offering) and you have to book around their schedule. Depending on your purpose, you might want to stay with local or your costs will go up.

Set the participant fee: The starting rate for a weekend is around $139, which is a great price. The price will be dependent upon what type of services you get and food. As a general rule, add $20 to it make sure everything is covered.

Confirm all plans and speakers before printing flyers. This is essential because people are so busy that they may misread the date, time, or location.

Invite other churches if your group is too small or if it is a specific audience. Most churches have a "sister" church, so invite them to participate. Marriage retreats are best kept in-house, as well as any retreats dealing with emotional issues.

Create a reservation system: 1. On-line, which accepts credit cards: Best case2. Cash3. Check (only weeks in advance)

Create your marketing materials:Brochure: Make sure it has pictures of the location and speakers. Build excitement about what they are getting before springing the price on them.Flyers: Use these as you get closer to the date

Market according to audience. Regardless of market, remind them often.


  • The earlier you book the better the price.
  • Handle sponsorships privately
  • Everything is negotiable


  • Some people will wait until the last minute (while the bus is boarding) to decide they want to go.

Items you will need

  • pen
  • paper
  • retreat center
  • speaker(s)
  • activities


About the Author

Delores Williams is an author/ new media strategist. She has written over 500 articles on a variety of topics over the past ten years. Her work has been published by Oxford Press, online, and in newspapers around the Country. She is a graduate of Lee University.

Photo Credits

  • cake topper bride groom marriage wedding image by Paul Retherford from