Why Make Team-Building A Part Of Your Retreat

What do you think of when you see the words team building?  My mind immediately goes to a trust fall…that’s the olde standby activity in most organizations.

I recently read a story about an NFL coach surprising his players with a bowling trip.  He used this time to build camaraderie between his players.  They’re a literal team.  The offensive line has to block for the quarterback.  The line backer has to support the defensive line.  You can see how those pieces come together.

Most organizations are not football teams but need similar team-building exercises.  Why?  Here are four reasons.

  1. Gets you out of your comfort zone. I’ve worked in big organizations and little organizations. When we’ve done a large group team-building exercise, I was forced to work with people inside the organization I didn’t know. This can be a great thing as it can lead to other collaborative ideas.
  2. Relationship building. This can relate to the first reason, because even in the same department, you may not know the person working in the cubicle next door.
  3. Allows you to see your co-workers in a different light. We always put up our work fronts. We probably don’t know it, but these fronts come up when we go to church or conferences. These team-building exercises allow these fronts to come down.
  4. Sometimes you need a reason to get out of the office. When I worked in a big organization, our department always took some time once a quarter to get out of the office. We went bowling or to the batting cages. Not much of a big deal, but it was great to laugh and get rid of that extra stress.

Do you find including team-building exercises as part of your event are important?  Why?  And what are some team-building exercises that you’ve used?

About the Author:  I am currently an artist manager for Michael Smith and Associates.  I work with promoters and event planners to coordinate their concerts that feature our acts.  I’ve been in the CCM business since I was in 8th grade having worked at a Christian bookstore and then Word Entertainment.  I’m also a drummer and attend ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, TN.  My wife, Caron, and I have one daughter, Molly Cate.  Most importantly, I’m an Apple fan. Follow me on Twitter: @KyleBJohnson

Getting Outside The Meeting Planning Box

Recently I read a great article online dealing with the new wave of creativity in faith-based  conferences. The article highlighted 2 very creative conferences and what they were doing to set themselves apart from traditional annual conferences.

The first conference mentioned was the Story conference, an annual event held in Chicago for self-described artists and creators (mostly Christian) who are trying to communicate their stories. Their focus is on making the event an experience, not just another conference. The intent is to inspire people and help them see what’s possible by pushing their imaginations to new heights.

The second one was the Echo Conference, an educational event for the artists, geeks and storytellers that roam behind the scenes at their churches and organizations. Can you imagine the pressure these guys deal with when planning an event for creative types? Has to be tough, but they must pull it off as the conference is very popular.

In both cases, the planners talked about how they wanted to push the envelope and develop a conference that would not be the same old thing.  I believe that’s something all planners can aspire to, creating an environment where people can be inspired and their creativity and passion unleashed.

For a little encouragement, please take the time to read the entire article here. While reading it, try to focus on 1 or 2 things you can take and use to make your next event more successful.

What are some outside the planner box ideas you’ve added to your event?

Going Deeper By Going Away

“We can’t afford to get away for our retreat.”

“Let’s just hold it here at the church.”

“Our people don’t want to drive 2 hours for a retreat.”

How many times have you heard comments like these while planning a retreat for your church? While they may sometimes have merit, the reality is when you hold a retreat at your church, it isn’t a retreat. Your folks don’t really have a chance to unplug from the world. Distractions are everywhere and, unfortunately, most of your people will give it to them.

Today’s guest post, written by Kevin Witt, does an excellent job of laying out why people can go deeper with God by going away. Kevin is Director, Office of Camp and Retreat Ministries at the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, TN and the following article is being published with the permission of iTeach Newsletter.

By Kevin Witt

In observing the life of Jesus, we notice a clear pattern of going away, in order to go deeper with God. The choice is made by our Lord numerous times in Scripture to seek out a place and a pace different from the normal rigors and responsibilities of his life, even when people’s needs were not yet fully met. He went away to quieter places in the natural world to pray and to reflect more deeply on the meaning of his life. This deliberate pattern of spiritual retreat contributed greatly to his effectiveness as a spiritual leader and teacher.

The teaching of the Sabbath and Jesus’ example of retreats invites us to enter places apart from our normal surrounding and to embrace rhythms and understandings counter intuitive to our harried culture. By encouraging those in our congregations to go on retreat, they, also, learn some essentials of faith and discipleship through direct experience. When we model the practice ourselves, we guide and inspire them to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Retreats teach people to receive through letting go, to move closer by being still, to hear the Divine Word in silence, to move forward through retreat, to act on God’s behalf by resting, to learn community from solitude and strangers, and to discover ways to be more present at home by taking time away. Jesus’ teaching invites people to release their grasp of their customary patterns in order to discover deeper dimensions of life. This is part of the meaning of his promise – “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24). These dichotomies are part of the reason that faith-based retreats are so dynamic and influential.

Retreat settings provide unparalleled opportunities to focus and be attentive to God, to each other, and to our own hearts as an intentional way to take our discipleship to a new level. Many Christian camp and retreat centers have a schedule of programs and events already planned that are available to your church members and leaders. Folks looking for congregations with multiple options in terms of faith forming opportunities would find these offerings to be an added asset of your congregation. Retreats are a wonderful element to incorporate into every congregation’s Christian education and spiritual formation plans.

Questions for Moving Forward:

  1. When you consider the members of your congregation, how might a camp or retreat help them move deeper in their connection with God, each other, and a life of Christian discipleship? What type of retreat or retreat theme would be particularly powerful related to the current vision and goals of your local church?
  2. Have you visited or been in contact with the Christian camps and retreat centers in your area about any assistance they may be able to provide to a team from your church that may be considering offering a camp or retreat for groups within your local church?
  3. Have you considered placing a link on your own local church website entitled “Our Camp and Retreat Program” that would take members and prospective members seamlessly to the many offerings available to them in your local region by linking them to the camp and retreat ministry websites?

3 Ways Technology Can Help You Plan Your Next Retreat

Recently I came across an article online entitled, “11 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for in 2011“. The article was written by Corbin Ball and covered what he felt would be the major meeting and tradeshow technology trends to watch for in 2011.

While Ball’s focus was primarily on large corporate meetings and tradeshows, I believe some of what he brought out in his post can also benefit those folks who plan any size Christian meeting, event or retreat. With that in mind, here are 3 technology trends I believe could help you as you plan your events this year.

  • Web-based software – In the past, meeting planning software was cost-prohibitive for small events and retreats. Now there are web-based options (free, or low cost) that can be of tremendous help to event and retreat planners. One option to check out would be http://wufoo.com/events/. The site provides easy to build HTML forms that can be used for registration, collection of payments, share info with attendees, etc. As we also plan events, this is a site we’re definitely looking into.
  • Mobile apps for meetings – In a previous post, I wrote about the coming smart phone revolution (read here) and how it would impact meetings and conferences. Analysts estimate that by the end of 2011, the majority of cell phones used in the U.S. will be smart phones. Smart phone technology is increasingly being used for networking, exhibit layout, pocket programs, sermon notes, real-time surveys and more. Here’s a link to a new website that’s come online to help planners track all of these options.
  • Social media is becoming main stream– Analysts believe in 2011 we’ll see more usage of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for event marketing. Expect the emphasis to evolve from just letting people know about the event, to building attendee engagement before, during and after the event. Twitter, with the use of hashtags, is probably the best platform to use, for now, if you’re trying to build engagement with your audience.

As you think about how to incorporate technology into your events and event planning, don’t try to force it. Look for ways where the use of technology will make it easier for you to plan the retreat and/or enhance the overall event experience for your attendees.

Are you currently utilizing technology to help take your event to the next level? If so, what is it that’s working for you? Would you mind sharing your successes with our readers?