Time for Your Annual Planning Retreat

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The white haired pastor tapped the phone with his pen as he pondered.  “No, that’s pretty much it.  I want to commend you on how well you have done so far.  Your church has almost doubled since you started implementing the principles of the three-legged stool:  organization, evangelization, and assimilation.  The Annual Planning Retreat is an important element of your organizational and management plan.

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By Tim Massengale

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Mark North picked up the telephone and dialed Vernon Baker’s number.  The elderly pastor answered on the second ring.

“Greetings and salutations,” Mark said with a grin, leaning back in his office chair.  “Have I caught you at a bad time?”

“No, I’m okay.  Just sitting here going over my notes for tonight’s Bible study.  What’s up?”

“Not too much – just wanted to ask you for a favor.  We have our Annual Planning Retreat coming up in a couple of months – October 22nd.  I wanted to know if you could attend and speak to my leaders on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  I want to include with the planning with some inspirational encouragement.  I’ve done it myself the last two years, so I thought it would be good to have a special guest speaker this time.”

“Well, I don’t know how special I would be – but let me check my calendar.”  Mark could hear papers shuffle.  “October 22nd you said?  Sure, as long as I don’t get back too late Saturday evening.  An old man needs his rest in order to preach good you know.”  He chuckled.

“Yah, right.  You can preach circles around me tired or not.  But we are having it at a lodge on Lake Sumter – that’s about ninety minutes north of here.  After you speak on Saturday afternoon, you’re welcome to stay for dinner – we are barbecuing ribs and brats with all the fixings.  You could be home by six o’clock I think.”

“You sold me – Let’s do it.”

“Great!  We will start on Friday evening about 7:00 PM.  We have a room for you at the lodge.  Your ideas and suggestions would be great as we do our yearly planning.”

“So how’s the Annual Planning Retreat concept been working for you?” Elder Baker asked.

“Fantastic!  I am so glad you introduced the idea to me.  I have found that there are two keys to keeping my leaders excited:  First, they need fresh ideas and creative solutions to problems.  You can’t let your leaders and ministries fall into a rut.  Every department needs to stay fresh and innovative in the task of reaching their annual goals.

“Then second, I must allow my leaders to participate in the development of those plans and solutions.  When they are involved in the plan development, they become committed in seeing them succeed.  The Annual Planning Retreat provides exactly that kind of atmosphere because we brainstorm new ideas, share needs, solve problems, and coordinate plans and activities.  It also unifies my leaders into a team.  I would say it’s been one of our most successful leadership activities yet.”

“That’s wonderful, Mark.  Glad to know it’s working for you.”

“Thanks.  But I have a few questions if you have a moment. When you have your planning retreat, how much time do you spend setting dates for various departmental activities?”

The old pastor let out a snort. “Very little.  In fact, we try to avoid date setting all together at the retreat.  Oh, the obvious dates we will set:  Easter, Pentecost Sunday, Anniversary service, Christmas, Watch night, and so on.  But for departmental activities, I tell my leaders to select the month they want the activity to be in and we’ll write that activity at the top of that month’s calendar page.  Later, we set the exact date at the Monthly Planning Council. We always plan at least three months in advance.”

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