The Power of an Annual Planning Retreat

It’s easy to run straight from the school year into summer and then right into the fall again. The problem is that when you are constantly at ground level it is hard to see where you are going. There is great benefit in taking time to intentionally step from street to the rooftop.

In the EFCA, we call this “roof-top time” an Annual Planning Retreat (APR). An APR is an intentional three day retreat for the purpose of looking up, within, back and ahead.

An APR allows you to:

  • celebrate what God has done over the last year.
  • access the condition of your heart, family and ministry.
  • listen to the Spirit’s direction.
  • clarify key priorities for your life and ministry.
  • dream beyond the next couple months.

Below are a few ideas to help you make the most of an Annual Planning Retreat. These three days could be some of your most important of the summer.


Read through Romans 1-11, Ephesians 1-3 or Colossians 1-2. Adore your Savior and celebrate His grace.
Read this sermon by Pastor John Piper entitled Doing Missions when Dying is Gain. Retitle it Doing Youth Ministry when Dying is Gain.


Read Proverbs 24:32. Then read this article entitled Painful Lessons of Mars Hill. Ask yourself: What lessons do I see in this story for my own life?
Consider reading and reflecting on a couple chapters from Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp.


Michael Hyatt provides seven powerful questions for reviewing the year in this article entitled: Seven Questions to Ask About the Last Year.
Review last year’s goals. What can you celebrate? What got you off course and why?


Update your Personal Growth Plan and your Annual Ministry Plan. Be sure to keep your goals limited and SMART.

  1. Read Mark 3:13-19. Who are those the Holy Spirit is prompting you to pull close this next year into intentional disciplemaking relationships? How will you seek to get enough intentional time with these people?
  2. What is the single most important change you could make in your leadership this next year that would make the biggest difference? Why? How can you take steps towards doing that? Who could coach you in this area?
  3. What is the most important change you can make in the student ministry this next year that would make the biggest difference? How will you go about making that change? What other leaders do you need to collaborate with on this change?


I always take a couple books with me on my APR. Below are a few I’ll take with me this year.

Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves
From the Garden to the City by John Dyer
Leading Change by John Kotter

Have you carved out time this summer to work ON the ministry rather than IN it? What practices have you found helpful in planning for the new ministry year?

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