Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t jump for joy at the thought of scheduling a board retreat. As leaders, we’re reluctant to add one more responsibility to our calendars. Plus, since most board members work weekdays, retreats are usually held on cherished Saturdays. But despite the additional time commitment, board retreats are one of the best ways to foster momentum and growth within your organization.
When I reflect on decades of bi-annual board retreats, great memories come to mind.
Like the time we were at a kids’ camp that served no coffee and watered-down scrambled eggs for breakfast. Board members NASCARed their way to the nearest town and brought back caffeine and donuts for everyone.
Or the time we practically stood on our heads trying to produce a vision narrative, when all the while God wanted to speak to us about spiritual intimacy and keeping pace with Him. As it turned out, He built upon that Spirit-led prayer at successive board meetings and unveiled an effective new mission strategy nine months later.
1) Special setting. Gathering in a special setting indicates your board retreat is set apart for a distinct purpose and outcome – different from a typical board meeting. Everyone comes anticipating God has something noteworthy in store.
2) Relaxed atmosphere. There’s nothing like a retreat center or someone’s home to make people feel comfortable. The dress is casual, the food is usually good, and everyone is able to kick back and enjoy the day.
3) Fellowship. Sharing meals together is conducive to personal conversation, lightheartedness, and laughter. People are freer to be themselves and personal connections take place, which leads to increased participation in board discussions.
4) Additional time. Spending a full day together allows for longer seasons of worship, prayer, and sharing – often themed according to the agenda for the day.
5) Free-flowing conversation. In a typical 3-hour board meeting, conversations tend to be curbed in order to get through the agenda. Contrast that with a few carefully chosen agenda items at a board retreat, and there’s time for more expansive conversations.
6) Incubators for birthing. Retreats create a unique environment for dreaming big, envisioning with God, and discerning His fresh vision. Brand new ideas emerge, fresh perspective is gleaned, and overarching spiritual themes come forth.
The time Jesus spent with His disciples was not only hands-on ministry or teaching for others. It was also private time together. They talked and traveled, cooked and ate meals, holed up to debrief and rest, and discussed important issues regarding the future.
We’ve each experienced the benefits of breaking away from our normal routines for a retreat. Board retreats dovetail those natural retreat benefits with important ministry advancements. Build board retreats into your annual schedule and watch God build your ministry’s personal relationships and forward motion.
“Build board retreats into your annual schedule and watch God build your ministry.”- Lisa Hosler
Is there a profitable board retreat that stands out in your mind? Feel free to describe it in the Comment Section below.