12 Things I Learned From (Almost) Running A Retreat

I originally wrote this post back in May 2015 after the biggest project I had ever started failed. It’s still incredibly relevant to me today, and I hope you’ll find it to be as encouraging as I did upon rediscovering it.


For the last several years, I’ve had this big idea to start a Christian young adults retreat in the Pacific Northwest. Last August, I finally made the jump from being a talker to a doer and started planning out the event. Over the past 6 months, I lined up speakers, figured out the meal situation, made a list of activities, brief sermon outlines to help give the pastors an idea of what the theme would be, and even reserved a campground. All was in place but one thing: people. Turns out folks between the ages of 18 and 28 are all either too busy or too tight on funds to be able to spend $255 on a four-day retreat. Thus, Camp Center Lane met it’s demise.


People said they were sorry I wasted so much time creating a camp only to have it fall through in the end. I am not.


12 things I learned:


1.) Never be too scared to talk about your ideas.

I was surprised how supportive people were! Despite my fears, it turns out nobody thought I was too inept to do what I had in mind. They offered lots of help and great suggestions.


2.) The importance of prioritizing.

Planning is important, but so is knowing what order to plan things. Tackle the most immediate issues first (in my case, find willing pastors, then reserve a location, then go to planning the daily retreat schedule of events, etc.).


3.) People get busy; don’t be afraid of giving the occasional reminder.

As long as you’re nice about it and don’t ask too frequently, it gives you peace of mind and usually the other person appreciates it and understands.


4.) Listen to people’s questions and comments.

A different perspective can prove useful, whether you think you need help or not.


5.) The power of networking.

A friend I made in an online group was my most helpful ally on this project. Always be branching out your ring of acquaintances.


6.) The importance of time management.

Setting realistic goals for completing tasks helps things get done in a good time frame and often with less stress.


7.) Break big goals down into little goals.

What steps are necessary for your idea to happen? What order must they be done in?


8.) People appreciate when you reach out to them personally.

Whether it furthers your idea or not, make an effort to initiate and keep contact with your friends and cohorts. You never know what benefits can happen for either of you as a result of your effort.


9.) Be passionate about your idea.

If you really love and support what you’re working on, all that work doesn’t feel like work.


10.) Do not fear failure.

One of the main reasons it was hard for me to share my idea at first was “What if I get rejected?”, followed by, “What if my idea fails and I look lame?” Well, it’s worse to never try than to never know.


11.) If your idea fails, learn from it anyway!

Analyze why it failed. Should you try again? Scale it down? Remodel the idea? And what new knowledge can you take from the experience to use in your life?


12.) Nothing is a waste.

Trust God- whatever situation He has placed you in, He is using it to bring about His ultimate glory.

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