How To Plan A Great Men’s Retreat
In 5 simple steps that will make your life easier
If you have ever been responsible for planning a retreat and getting men to attend, then you know this can be a challenging task. And with increased demands on a man's life, retreats for men are becoming more and more difficult to attend. Even so, I speak at a few each year that are very successful and here are some pointers to keep in mind.
First | Plan In Advance
Last minute men’s retreats just create stress for everyone involved. Instead, give your men 6-12 months notice so they can adjust family and work calendars appropriately. Make sure to avoid holidays or calendar conflicts specific to your community. The best time of the year is always mid-fall and deep-winter. I have found men's retreats in early November and early February work best. These seasons work because these periods have fewer conflicts and more regular work rhythm for men and families.
Second | Gather A Team & Support
Your leadership and church need to be behind the retreat. Promotion through the sermon and church communication will drive men to attend. Also, find the trusted, well-liked men and get them excited and committed to participate and plan the event together. Guys will be more likely to engage if personally invited by another guy. Also, if possible, I would highly encourage you to partner up with other churches that you trust. I don't know why we don't do this more often, but churches that partner together for a men's retreat are going to get more participation more quickly. Find some like-minded leaders in other churches and partner with them if possible, and you will build a more substantial vision not just for your church but the community.
Third | A Balanced Retreat Structure
As a rule of thumb, most Men's Retreats are 1.5-2 days. They begin on Friday night and end on Saturday night or Sunday morning. I know some that are shorter day retreats or brief conferences. I would suggest no more than two large group meetings per day. For most weekend retreats, the correct number is two to four. One on Friday night, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday morning. During these meetings make sure and allow for men to interact with each other, and don't just talk to the men. They have come not only for spiritual inspiration but in hopes of building new friendships with other men. Keep in mind music with a group of men can be powerful but you need to do it well and yet go with simple and not over-produced. And little details like downtime for conversation, mixers, games, athletic competition, journaling, prayer, and unique adventures can all be included.
Fourth | Create A Memory
Retreats should have a memory that men will forever remember. I remember one year I faked a bus breakdown and made men hike to camp with their luggage. I can promise you; no one ever forgot this one. Never underestimate the power of creating a memory and having a clarion call for you men. Be creative and do not be afraid of going over the top.
Fifth | A Compelling Topic
Finally, pick a topic and find a story that resonates with men. Teaching is fine, but a compelling story centered on the truth of God’s Word is best. Find a communicator that can get men to look deeply into Scripture and a curriculum that will get men talking about it together. And never forget the Word of God is the most critical catalyst for seeing men’s heart’s changed.
Vince Miller is the founder of Resolute and is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to men and has a deep passion for God’s Word. He has authored ten books and small group bible studies exclusively for men.