Increasing Lay Leadership

Last blog entry we outlined steps one to three of a six step process for having meaningful lay leadership at an annual men or women's retreat.  This blog we outline steps four through six in the process.

Step four should find us still about ten to eleven months out from the event.  This second meeting should also last only 90 minutes.  If a retreat chair has been selected (preferable), the pastor and chair should get together before the meeting to clarify the goals for the second meeting.  The purpose of this meeting is to identify additional leadership needed for the retreat, discuss how to  reach and motivate people to attend.  Having secured a speaker is not enough to make a retreat work.  Adults do not learn well simply by listening to a lecture, regardless how well delivered.  We learn by reflecting back the ideas presented and an honest exchange with others, and this can only be done in small groups.  Small groups need discussion leaders, that is a person to ensure that everyone in the small group has a chance to speak, and no one person dominates the discussion.  With just a little training, many people can lead a small group discussion.  Begin with the number of people you hope will attend, and hope for more than you had the year before!  Let's say you hope to have 50 people.  You need about 7 small groups of 7 people each, and therefore you need 7 small group leaders.  Some of these can come from persons already gathered around the table, but encourage the group to identify those outside of the planning committee.  In this way, you  enlarge the base of people who will commit to attending.

     Step five is to determine whether or not the topic is universal enough to reach a broad group of people.  For example, relationships when you're married can be different from when you're single.  To use another example, if 'fatherhood' was chosen, everyone is not a father.  But everyone has a father.  So determine how many other opportunities you need to create to serve the diversity of people you hope will attend.  Here's a list of possible workshops for a retreat on relationships:  Marriage, Friendships, Workplace, Friendships in the Bible, Intimacy, Conflict, Growing spiritually through friendship, etc.

Here's another example using Fatherhood:  The Changing role of Fathers; Fatherhood and Work; Fatherhood in the Bible; Divorced Fathers; Stay at Home Dads; Caring for an elderly father; Making peace with your father, etc. 

       Regardless of what your topic is, you want to create an interest from as broad a group as possible.  In addition to the small group discussion leaders which will follow the Speaker's presentation, also offer workshops which take the topic even deeper.  So if you offer 5 or 6 workshops, identify five or six more people in the church to lead the workshops.  You have now increased your leadership group by more than a dozen people.  Assign calls to each of the possible leaders, and give the committee 6-8 weeks to secure the leaders.  If identified people can't do it, make sure you've brainstormed enough extra names to get the job done if someone turns you down.  

         Step six is hopefully your last meeting, although if it requires two more meetings, you're still far enough out to make it work.  The last meetings are reporting back on the calls made, meeting with the Speaker if desired and/or available, working on logistics for the retreat, publicity, etc.  Each Committee member should have a specific responsibility.  It might be registration, or snacks, recreation or name tags, worship or recreation or get acquainted exercises, or all of the above.  Involve as many people as possible.  Encourage everyone involved to invite and bring their friends.  This is the outreach part.  If your topic is on target (addressing a deeply felt need) and involves 25 people, you will reach your target goal of 50!