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Team retreat for planning and training
Next month, our worship teams (Band, Tech, and Planning) will be taking off on a weekend retreat. (There's a huge Jazz Festival in town, and the "Traditional" service brings in one of the groups or musicians to lead worship - so we get a weekend off.)
The retreat is designed to be a time for the worship teams to rest/renew and worship, as well as to do planning, work out kinks that have developed over the year, do some intentional team building, etc. My question, as I plan the retreat..
If you could get your worship planning team, including the pastor (me) together for a weekend away - what would you find helpful? What do you wish you could do together that would ease your individual work? Has anyone done this kind of retreat time - what's worked/not worked?
We've tried in the past to use this as a time to plan out several months of worship themes, and while we've had some creative ideas, we've never managed to get to the point of getting a calendar put together.
I'd appreciate any suggestions, stories and tips.
We just had a day-long staff retreat, and one thing that really helped get people's heads in the right place was that we started off with a 1.5 hour prayer workshop, lead by someone not on the staff (my wife, who's a spiritual director and leads prayer workshops occasionally as well as doing spiritual direction with individuals.) I think something similar would be a great way to start any church retreat.
I second Gene's idea, and I have one to add as well.
As a media guy working week to week to come up with graphics to match the sermon, the "planning ahead" aspect would be more valuable to me than anything else.
The best way to get it from "tossing out ideas" to "getting it on the calendar" would be for you to bring them a framework to build on. Pastors I've interviewed in my day job (editor of Vision Magazine) have told us that this is the best way to establish the rhythm between the pastor's responsibility to bring the Word and the creative team's responsibility to help you communicate it visually.
I would highly recommend checking out some of the articles we've written (This one addresses your question very specifically.) I often write with my own situation in mind, and the question at the beginning of this article is probably the most direct example of this.
I know the weekend is coming soon, so you may not have enough time to read this article, let alone implement it. So let me give you the nutshell version: Anything you can bring in terms of "this is where I'm headed for the next ___ months" can be a framework for your people. If you preach in series, even having the scripture passages or overarching themes for 2 of them will give your team a head start. If you preach week to week, have 3 or 4 messages outlined. (And "outline" can be a very loose term. If all you have is a scripture passage and a working title, you're giving them something to work with.)
This post is getting long. I'm going to break here and start a second post with a sample schedule you could possibly use on your retreat.
We've had a couple daylong retreats (around 6 hours) for our planning, brainstorming, and worship teams. We tried to do some planning, but it wasn't really that effective.
The most productive part of the entire day was the hour and a half or so that we spent worshipping. Everyone is so involved on Sunday mornings in all aspects of the service that we really don't get to actually worship.
We had an outside guy come in and do a short devotional. Then we sang some songs while his wife played an easily portable electric keyboard. We then spent some time in prayer. It was the best worship time I've experienced in a long time.
I would highly recommend trying to spend a portion of the day in worship. It will be very refreshing for your team.
If your weekend starts on Friday night, I'd leave that time primarily for fellowship. If you have any kind of meeting at all, it could be the prayer time Gene mentioned or just a general overview of what the weekend will be.
1st session: Prayer (if you didn't do it the night before) - focus your group on praying specifically for God's leading in planning your worship experiences. If you've already done prayer, use this as a time to listen to the group's needs. In other words, ask, "How can we do this whole thing better?"
2nd session: Brainstorming - If you've never done group brainstorming before, read Jason's and Len's articles on working in teams. (This one is the first in the series, but if you're pressed for time, skip to this one. You can also find them all at VisionOnDemand.net by typing "Len Wilson" or "Jason Moore" in the search box. We have purty pictures with ours!) Give them to your team to read ahead of time if you can.
Give the whole group your outlines for however many messages or series you have available and spend an hour and a half brainstorming only the main creative idea for each series or message.
One quick caveat before I proceed: Len and Jason strongly recommend a smaller group (4-7 people) for the best creative dynamic. If your group is larger than this, you may need to find a way to break up into smaller groups before actually brainstorming. Your designated creative team would be one group, and the remaining people can use the time to have a team-specific meeting for whatever needs they have.
3rd session: breakout for more specific brainstorming. Take the first message or series and let each of your 3 teams spend an hour and a half putting some meat on the bones. The worship team can pick songs, the tech team can figure out how to implement the theme on screen and on stage, and the planning team can work on whatever other details you have. Take 10 minutes at the end for each team to share ideas with the others.
4th session: 2nd breakout. Same as the first, but for the next message or series.
Leave the rest of the evening for fellowship.
Worship together. Make the planning as light as possible. Maybe do songs by request so the worship leader doesn't have to plan. Get someone else besides you to do a devotional message. Keep it open ended, time-wise.
If you have a meeting on this day, use the time to hash out details between the three teams.
You'll walk away refreshed with a better understanding between teams, and you'll be at least 2 weeks ahead in your planning.
The best thing about a weekend retreat like this is that there is really no way to screw it up. The fact that you as the pastor are even doing this, Kathleen, is HUGE to your team -- especially the volunteers. May God bless your time together for His glory.
Thanks for everyone's idea and suggestions. They were very helpful in refining the direction for the weekend. With your suggestions, I took a couple of days over the last few weeks to do my own planning on themes for fall, advent and lent, so we'll have a lot to brainstorm on, as well as time to play and worship together. We'll be away this weekend and I'd appreciate your prayers that the team (and I) find it to be a time for renewal, worship and rest, as well as planning!