Over the years, I have seen the great value of taking a retreat with my adult choir. Some years, the retreat served primarily as a great head start on learning a ton of music for a recording or presentation. Other times, the retreat was planned primarily for spiritual renewal for our worship leaders.
But, every time I have led my choir in a retreat setting I’ve experienced significant outcomes. Here are some highlights:
Great Team Building — Often the process of preparing for the retreat will involve many of your leaders. They will plan and pray together and then execute the plan. This process builds strong friendships and trust among the people who lead together every week.
Also, the experience of dedicating a specific amount of time to pursue a common goal can really enhance the team by drawing them into a deeper level of achievement.
Strong Spiritual Focus — We can learn a great deal from Jesus’ example. When He had essential spiritual development to share with His disciples, he would pull aside out of the routine, find a secluded place, and pour into their hearts. A well-planned retreat with specific content for spiritual nourishment can be a great step forward in the spiritual development of your choir.
Pursuit of Excellence — Spending time in a retreat setting can give you the opportunity to hone in on some important skills for your choir that you just don’t always have time for in a fast-paced rehearsal setting. Once, I used a retreat setting to drastically change the way the men of our choir approached their singing. It changed the way our choir sounded from that time on. I could not have tackled that in a regular rehearsal.
You can also develop more nuance to the singing of the choir when you have time to do more than learn songs – you can teach some great choral and singing techniques or even bring in a guest conductor that can challenge the choir in ways you normally do not.
So, how do you start?
- Realize that a retreat doesn’t have to be for a weekend or even overnight at a different location. You can accomplish many of the same things on a Saturday in your choir room. You might start small and build up to a more involved retreat.
- Build a planning team can involve people from your leadership and from various sections of your choir — young and old, new-comers and old-timers, etc… If possible, find a way to involve your pastor in the retreat.
- Select the right days. Be intentional about avoiding key church or community events and pick a time when the majority of your people can make the commitment to support the retreat. Then, get it on the calendar and protect the dates as much as possible!
- Start early! The more involved the retreat is, the more time you will need to plan it. Prepare for it in your budget planning the year before and use the extra time to locate the right place and people you want to involve.
- Pray! Ask God to guide you in the preparation and to bless the event with His presence and power and will use the retreat to grow your team!
If any of you have some great ideas for a Choir retreat, please share them!
P.S. For the next few months, Mike is going to write a “Secret Sauce” series of blogs. If you haven’t already subscribed, be sure to sign up… you don’t want to miss this special series!
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.