Assuming you've decided you want to achieve all purposes of a staff retreat—to work, rest, and spend time with God—here are some elements to build into the events:
1. Timing. Don't wait to have a perfect event planned, or one that will be scheduled a month in advance. The best staff retreats start when the leader says, "We need to get away at this time." Whatever the critical event or need, use the staff retreat like a general uses a high-level strategy meeting: to unite, pump up, and communicate with the troops.
2. Invitees. Not everyone needs to be there. Invite your key players and those with the greatest impact on the ministry team. More junior-level staff might not be ready for all this.
3. Rest. Every moment of every day away doesn't have to be planned. The best retreats I've attended allow considerable time for people to have their own devotions, read, go for walks, talk in pairs, or just sleep.
4. Prayer. Sometimes Jesus held his own personal retreat, which he filled with just one thing: prayer. His disciples, then and now, would do well to follow his example.
5. Go by yourselves. Jesus didn't invite the spouses or children of leaders to come along for the ride; he just invited the leaders. He knew his team needed no interruptions. Today, the best retreats are still held without others tagging along. They're not half-vacations—they're times for seeking God-given vision, strategy, or rest.
6. Location. Mark 6 says Jesus and his disciples went away in a boat to a lonely place for a time of spiritual refreshment. I know everyone can't go away in a boat, but every effort should be made to go to a "lonely place"—a place where God and ...