How to Lead a Retreat Without Being a Micromanager

3212571064_64b82deef5_mA retreat is a great opportunity to step away from ordinary life and reconnect with God.  I've been attending (and later on leading) retreats since I was in high school.  I needed a nudge in my faith and thankfully, a buddy of mine essentially forced me to go.  Not that I knew it at the time but he knew what I didn't- being a Christian involves being in relationship with Jesus Christ.  Much more than just doing Christian-looking things like attending a church. Since that retreat, my life has never been the same.

I'm currently working with my local group to put on a retreat in November.  Here are some of the ways that we've been prepping for what we hope will be a family-friendly event:

  1. Have a clear reason to host a retreat. In our case, it was twofold: to be of service to those who live in our area and to provide them with a glimpse of our spiritual tradition.  It's important to communicate clearly with those who will attend as to your intention for the day.  If you are recruiting, say so.  If you are just trying to educate, say so.

  2. Involve those that are leaders. Our group is essentially a community of leaders so everyone has a job and each of us has pitched in in one way or another.  For the most important part- inviting others- each person has a role to play.

  3. Delegate where you can. Sensing that I couldn't be the point person for the upcoming retreat, I was very comfortable letting a smaller group of members coordinate the event.  I just kept tabs on their progress and put in my two cents where necessary.  They have tons of ownership as a result and I haven't had to do all of the work.

  4. Promote well. Nothing beats personal invitation but strong print materials are also essential.  Folks will judge you based on how you look on paper.  (here is our promo flyer)

  5. Content matters. A local retreat house is struggling and I believe it's partly due to their leaning towards a more New-Age style of spirituality.  If you're looking for a retreat, remember that strong content can never be substituted with fads.  Ask around and seek out those who have attended good retreats.  They are often reliable witnesses to the kind of content that you may be seeking.

So far, the response to our initial invites have been positive.  I'm hoping that you'll consider a retreat at some point in the next year.  By the way, if you're in New Jersey and would like to attend our November retreat, don't hesitate to email me directly at and I can forward more information.

*Photo by AngelAcevedo