Campus Blog

How to Plan a Meeting, Retreat, or Other Event

Jeremiah Kepner

It's an all-too-common phenomenon, one that seems excruciating and unavoidable for everyone involved in corporate life or ministry: Death By Meeting .

Meetings are viewed by most people as everything from a necessary evil (at best) to the 7th level of Dante's Inferno (at worst). I suggest that meetings get a bad reputation mostly because of poor planning. Here are a few symptoms of poorly planned meetings:

1.   Too many. Our calendar can quickly fill up with staff/leadership meetings, training sessions, small group discipleship appointments, and other (sometimes tedious) events. I've been to lengthy meetings just to discuss what needs to be covered at the next meeting.

2. Too boring/meandering. When nothing is discussed beforehand and no clear goals are laid out, a lot of time is wasted trying to figure out what is going on.  Most people start doodling, rolling their eyes, and sighing heavily.

3. Wrong audience. I've often been to meetings where, five minutes in, I come to the realization that I (along with most of the other people in the room) really don't need to be there. This is cleverly illustrated in  this brief video  by funny-man Brian Allain.

Life in Cru is a little different than the corporate world. Our meetings (including training sessions, retreats, conferences, etc.) aren't just intended to convey information: they (usually) exist to help accelerate the movement, provide an environment for life-change, and bring God glory. However, if your meeting is lame and poorly planned, none of those things are likely to happen.

Even a "fun" social gathering can fall short of its potential if not well-planned. So, if you're in any position of leadership that requires you to plan meetings, socials, retreats, or any other event where people assemble, read the following step-by-step guide beforehand. It just might help make your next gathering a success.

Planning Your Meeting

* Pray before, during, and after the planning process. Don't just make your plans and then ask God to bless things after all the work is done.

1. Vision and Purpose 

What are you trying to accomplish with this event? What do you want your attendees to experience?
Who do you want to come? Leaders? Future leaders? Believers? Non-believers?
How much content do you want to have?

2. Elements

What are we going to do? Eat? Experience?

Lessons or discussions

3. Schedule

Map out a timeline (with cushion for unforeseen situations/discussions). Be sure to start and end on time.

4. Roles and Responsibilities

Who exactly is doing what? Who is the point person (main and subordinates)?
Do you want to include anyone else's help in executing this event?

5. Planning

Everyone doing their own part.
Point person checks in and makes sure it’s all getting done.

6. Recruiting

Getting people there. You have to sell every event you do, make people see that they want to come.

7. Execution

Do it!

8. Evaluation

Did we accomplish our vision and purpose?
What went well?
What did not go well?
What will we keep for next time?
What will we change for next time?


Other suggestions or insights? Comment below.


Photo courtesy of Simon Webster (Flickr Creative Commons).

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