How To Invigorate Your Worship Ministry With a Retreat

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A well-planned, strategically organized retreat can invigorate your worship ministry. Our team just finished our “first ever annual” retreat and it was a mountain top experience for all who participated. They can’t wait to have the next one!   

A retreat  can be a great way to rest and recover from the rigors of life, or it can be a working retreat to do deep work on special projects. Or it can be a combination of both objectives. You can use a retreat to:

  • Prepare for a choir cantata
  • Rehearse a couple months worth of new praise band material
  • Integrate new members into your worship team
  • Do a songwriting retreat specifically to write new songs
  • Plan and prepare creative worship elements like a drama or special program
  • Or – just get away to hear from God

Why Have A Worship Ministry Retreat?

The benefits are a fantastic return on investment.

The immersive nature of a retreat can rapidly uplevel your ministry. Here are a few benefits:

  • Strengthen and build personal relationships among team members and leadership.
  • Get to know one another better as a group.
  • Be able to do deep work on important projects.
  • Experience a stimulating new environmental dynamic.
  • Create space and time to allow God to speak, move, and act in fresh ways.
  • Receive inspiration and encouragement from the Holy Spirit and guest speakers.

Overall Practical Tips

  1. Commit to making a high-impact “wow experience” for participants. This can be done through attention to detail on very little things. For example, we prepared a small “welcome package” – a gift bag of candies, snacks and water along with a “welcome letter”, for participants folks arrived.   We also included blank encouragement cards that they were to write and share with each other through out the event.
  2. Find an inspiring location. This is so important. DO NOT have your “retreat” at your church and your usual rehearsal space. Chose a remote location.
  3. Food is really important! Our retreat center included meals so that attendees did not have to worry about it. We also brought snacks to share.
  4. Do fundraising to underwrite the cost so that the expenses for your volunteers are reasonable. If you have the funds and can treat them 100%, so much the better. But this is not always possible. At any rate, you want this to be both an investment and a gift to your volunteers.

A debrief from our fall Choir Retreat.

Specific Ideas you can use:

Purpose: Work on new Christmas music. Build team. Grow closer to God and one another.

Plan: Our retreat began with dinner at 6pm Friday and concluded at 5pm Saturday. We promised this would not be one “giant rehearsal”. We kept things moving by mixing fun “get to know you” exercises, skill development, learning lots of cool music, having an inspiring speaker and taking plenty of time just to worship together.

The “Get To Know You” Icebreaker game.

Everyone anonymously wrote down one fact “you don’t know about me” on a slip of paper. We put them all into a basket. Then at the beginning of the sessions we would read the fact and members had to guess who it was. That led to lots of laughs and interaction. Each person would share some insight into what they wrote. We had about 30 attendees, so we would do a few at a time. That set a happy mood, everyone was heard, but it didn’t take forever either.

Here’s the schedule of how we kept things moving.

7pm Friday Evening Session One:

  • Welcome & Orientation
  • Scripture & Prayer
  • “Get To Know You” Icebreaker.
  • Vocal warm-ups , new group exercises on posture, breathing and tone.
  • Introduce and work on cool Song #1

5 minute Break

  • “Get To Know You” Icebreaker continues
  • Introduce and work on Song #2

10 minute break (snacks)

  • Spiritual teaching #1 (15 minutes)
  • Group Worship, prayer (20 minutes)
  • Game (Pictionary by teams, 15-20 minutes)
  • Finish by 10:15 pm

Saturday – Breakfast available from 7am until 9am

9am Saturday Morning Session Two

  • Scripture & Prayer
  • “Get To Know You” Icebreaker.
  • Vocal warm-ups , new group exercises on posture, breathing and tone.
  • Introduce and work on Song #3

20 Minute Break and change locations to the Chapel – Session Three

  • Worship – 15 minutes
  • Spiritual Teaching #2 – 20 minutes
  • It was raining and we had a wonderful moment of silence and hearing God through the rain.

Lunch 12:00 until 1:30

1:30 Saturday Afternoon Session Three

  • “Get To Know You” Icebreaker continues
  • Vocal warm-ups posture, breathing and tone.
  • Introduce and work on Song #4
  • Introduce and work on Song #5

Break (snacks)

  • “Get To Know You” Icebreaker concludes
  • Spiritual teaching #3 (15 minutes)
  • Prayer
  • Recap and sing through all 5 new songs
  • Conclude with fun “awards”, worship and prayer

4:30 Clean-up, Breakdown


Feedback from members of the choir was tremendous.  Here’s one what one member wrote:

“The Choir Retreat was the single most fulfilling and enjoyable retreat experience I’ve had in the last 20 years, despite the rain.  The planning and organization were excellent; and was obvious from the moment I walked into our meeting room.  It was a delightful experience, especially the worshipful attitude and devotionals that John led.  It was a joyous, humorous, friendly time; with nothing over done or missing.  I expected to do a lot of singing; and we did, but we had breaks and fun intermediate activities that broke up the day.  The “Get to Know You” game was great, I learned a great deal about lots of people. The location and food was great; two very important factors.  Outside of ordering sunny weather, I don’t know what I would change.  Maybe more padding on the chairs 😉

I really can’t wait for next year.  I don’t know how you’ll top this, but I’m sure you’ll try.  Thanks again for a terrific time; and all of the hard work that went into making it happen.
– J.F., Bass singer


In your strategic planning for developing your worship ministry, don’t overlook the ground that can be gained with the right kind of retreat. It just may be the catalyst that takes your ministry to the next level.