How To Plan A Men's Retreat

A Retreat Planning Guide For Men's Leaders

If you are watching this video, then you might be a leader of men. And I love guys like you. Guys who get off the spiritual bench and into the game. Men who want to have a lasting impact on the lives of men. Now this endeavor is not easy but the rewards are incredible. And in a world that constantly demands more of our attention, it's getting more difficult for men to prioritize spiritual growth. But nothing incites spiritual change like a men's retreat. When done well, it can and will spark life changes for men, marriages, families, and workplaces. And your role in organizing a retreat for them is crucial, and today I am going to give you some general pointers before you begin.

And note: I am speaking from a lot of experience. I have attended, led, and spoken at hundreds of men's retreats. And I have seen everything. The biggest and smallest men's retreats. And the best and worst men's retreats. And I have some crazy things. So I hope this short video will help you avoid some of the mistakes I have seen others make.

Here are four pointers.

First | Make A Commitment

Commitment is where every retreat that was ever planned begins. And I am talking about a personal commitment by you and no one else. Not your pastor. Not your church. Not a group of men. You and only you. All it takes is one committed man to incite a movement of men. We see this play out time and time again in the Bible. For example, consider Jesus. He was committed and then found other men to commit to him. That's how this whole thing works. You are going to have to be committed first to Jesus and this retreat. Then other men will see your commitment and follow because of it. But if you don't really make the commitment, others are going to know it because men can sense non-commitment a mile away. And if you aren't committed then they won't commit either. So don't even continue reading unless you are committed.

Second | Assemble A Team

The second thing you need after you have made a commitment, (which have done since you kept reading) is a team. You need a team of men to come around the vision and mission of the retreat. And in another lesson, I will get more into the vision for a men's retreat. But for now, just assemble a group of men. You don't need a lot of men. I would start with about 3-5. And don't worry about inviting them to roles and tasks or creating job descriptions. These will reveal themselves over time. But you do have to be concerned about one thing when you recruit men for this team. That they are willing to commit to doing one thing. Recruiting men. Recruiting men for the retreat is the hardest and most neglected task of every men's retreat. So find men who don't have a problem inviting men. Or find men who already have an influence over groups of men. And then be clear upfront with each you invite to the team that the most important task is recruiting men. You have to assemble a team that can assemble men.

Third | Determine A Structure

The easiest way to determine a structure is, to begin with a frame of time and reverse engineer it. Usually, retreats last for 1-1/2 to 2 days. Most begin on Friday night and conclude on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning. There are other shorter options but I can address that in a different video. But for weekend retreats, start by clarifying when in the schedule you will gather for meals and meetings. This is the physical and spiritual meat of the time. For two-day retreats, here is what usually happens — 5 meals and 4 meetings. Start here and then fill in the other time with competitions, games, sports, conversations, groups, and other things you think you might want to include. But don't overdo it. I have been to some men's retreats, where there is no retreating. They are exhausting. You might as well rename them Men's Exhaust.

Fourth | Determine The Speaker & Theme

Early in the process, you need to find a speaker. I would find someone who is both — biblically literate and can speak to men. And as a teacher and preacher who has spoken at hundreds of men's retreats, I am going to tell you, based on the positive feedback I get, it's hard to find someone who does both well. So you need to get out there early often and get the men who can do this well on your calendar for your retreat. And be careful because sometimes, just because a professional athlete or business leader works with men, has written a book, and has faith in Jesus does not automatically mean he is both: biblically literate and can speak to men. I have witnessed the tragedy of this at numerous retreats, conferences, and special events. Don't make the same mistake. Plus, it's often an expensive mistake and might end up being the end of your retreat.

Once you find the right guy, then ask him to determine the theme and build your retreat around that. It's very hard to find a preacher or teacher who is going to teach your topic unless you are going to pay them serious money. When someone asks me to do a specialty topic, I charge them four times more — every single time. Mainly because it requires more time than going to coffers for something I have done many times that I know works. So find your speaker first and then build out the theme.

In conclusion, planning a men's retreat requires your personal commitment, assembling a dedicated team, creating a balanced structure, and finding a speaker who can inspire men. Following these pointers and you will leave a lasting impact on other men. Remember, you're not alone — reach out to us at for assistance and materials to support your men's group or small group leadership.

And live all in for him, who lived all in for you.

One thought on “How To Plan A Men’s Retreat

  1. Mike Porter says:

    Hi Vince, thanks for your encouragement. A men’s retreat has been on my heart for several years now. I’ve had fear going into this but still want to step forward. What are the best topics/themes for these retreats? You mentioned you had lots of Themes you’ve seen work best. I’m curious about what those are. Thanks for your time.

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