How to Plan a Retreat for Your Church Group

church-group-retreatFor churches, a retreat can provide the local body with exciting opportunities to grow in Christ and build community, outside the familiar walls of the worship center, sanctuary, or classroom.

If the important task of organizing a church retreat has fallen into your hands, read on! Our retreat experts at Camp Eagle are here to help you design a meaningful getaway for your group.

Audience and Purpose

Before you make any plans, you must decide on two things: audience and purpose.

Perhaps your youth group could use a bonding experience. Or maybe your women’s ministry needs a chance to dive into scripture away from the demands of work and family. These are just two examples of groups that could benefit; others might be church staff, young dads, senior adults, or college students – the possibilities are endless!

It’s important to remember that based on the audience and purpose, a retreat’s vibe can vary from one group to another. Nailing down these factors early on will give you a vision and inform many of your decisions going forward. In short, the first step is simply answering: who and why?


Choosing a theme is not 100 percent necessary for having a successful retreat, but it can definitely help! A theme makes planning a lot easier and it gives participants an idea of what to expect.

Your group’s retreat could be themed around an engaging biblical passage, a spiritual discipline, a semester’s curriculum, a specific parenting challenge, or whatever is life-giving, in this season, to your group. It could even be focused on grief or new beginnings. You know your group best! With a bit of prayer, it should be easy to choose a great theme.

Time and Place

Selecting the best time and place for your retreat is very important. You can start by considering how much time away your group can commit to. A week-long stay in the summer might be perfect for one group, while a Saturday in the fall makes the most sense for another. 

It matters where you meet, so location is the next thing to pin down. If your budget allows, consider a camp or conference center, as these spaces typically offer all-inclusive, customizable experiences, as well as challenging outdoor activities. Be sure to think about travel, audio/video needs, meals, and lodging. At Camp Eagle, we can take care of all these needs and more! 


When it comes to activities, “all or nothing” is not always the answer. Successful retreats (and venues) typically provide opportunities for participants to enjoy both rest and recreation.

For example, here at Camp Eagle, our high-adventure activities are set against a backdrop of rugged limestone cliffs and starry Hill Country skies. So whether your group is looking to get their adrenaline pumping or connect with God in His creation, our campus offers either… or both! 

Remember: no matter how you decide to balance the two, rest and recreation are best experienced when distractions are kept to a minimum. This is something we love about our campus – limited cell phone service makes it easy to disconnect and focus on the real reason you’re here. If you choose a venue that isn’t as remote, consider making a pact with your group to limit anything that distracts. 


And our last (but not least) important piece of advice: don’t try to plan a retreat by yourself.

Ask different parts of the church body to support you from start to finish: a planning team to help with all the details, a group to pray for the retreat and its participants before and during the event, and another to help with transportation or food prep – you get the idea!

For extra support, lean on us! Use this link to submit all your retreat-related questions!