16 Oct Have you Booked your Church Camp or Retreat for 2024?
Building deeper community through church camps and retreats.
As our communities moved on to post-pandemic life, churches are now working through how to best strengthen their communities. Many churches have recently experienced growth as they re-gathered, whilst others have not. Some church communities have grown closer relationships as they walk and support each other through the challenges of the pandemic.
Regardless of the rate of growth, your church community needs to plan for the best ways to nurture their community’s faith. So then, what can churches do to intentionally support, refresh, and build community?
Here are three ways for churches to build community in 2024:
- Church camps,
- Spiritual retreats, and
In a 2017 report commissioned by Christian Venues Association through the National Church Life Survey, showed that 58% of people experienced a strengthening or nurturing of their faith from a Christian camp, conference, or spiritual retreat they attended. Furthermore, building Church community/relationships (39%), and time away to focus on God (37%), were the second and third place survey responses respectively.
Andrew Grant, Director of Queensland Conference and Camping Centers (QCCC), hosts church camps and retreats all year round across QCCC’s 4 venues. Andrew has found that QCCC venues see churches approach camps and retreats in very different ways. Some churches take an approach of a structured program of speakers with fully catered meal packages, whilst others prefer group workshops and making space in the schedule for family outdoor activities. Whereas others may use a venue, such as the QCCC Noosa campsite, to take advantage of an opportunity for spiritual solitude in a true bush seclusion style camp where campers self-cater their meals.
Here are three common approaches for churches held at QCCC campsites:
- Church camp – whole church approach
These are often family-friendly camps, with activities that attract families. There are plenty of packages to suit the size, purpose, and budget. Everything from fully catered and accommodated family camps, where everything from meals, accommodation, meeting area, and outdoor activities are in one place (e.g., QCCC Mapleton or Mount Tamborine). Alternatively, self-catered camping in tents and cabins gives people on a tighter budget the opportunity to immerse themselves away from distractions in God’s creation and visit local beaches (e.g., QCCC Noosa).
- Spiritual Retreats – smaller churches or groups
Spiritual retreats can range from a one-day approach to a full weekend (or week). Fully catered options provide an opportunity for groups on retreat to solely focus on the spiritual formation, connection, and even some time of solitude with God whilst not venturing far from the CBD (e.g., QCCC Brookfield). Budget camping sites such as QCCC Noosa offer bush campsite space for tent/camper van/cabin style away from technology. Survival-style camps are also an option to connect with God’s creation and undertake team-building tasks such as bush hiking, navigation, fire-cooking, raft-building, bush food, shelter building.
- Conferences – Whole Church
Whether held on-site at your own church building or off-site at a venue that will offer you fully catered packages, this is an opportunity to pour into your church congregation on focused areas of spiritual development. A great opportunity to invite guest speakers, hold live worship music sessions, and participate in specialized workshops that skill and inspire people to go back out into their everyday lives and fulfill Jesus’ mandate to go make disciples.
Whilst planning a program for camps and retreats is unique to each church group, it is helpful to note some of the most motivating factors that engage people in camps and retreats. The National Church Life data used in the Christian Venues Association report, provides some insight into the top five motivating factors to attend a Christian camp, conference, or retreat. These include, quality speakers (46%), friends attending (28%), time for prayer or contemplation (26%), relationship building opportunity (25%), and workshops (16%). So when planning your next camp program, factor in how you can use these successful motivators to your community’s advantage.
Have you booked your church camp or spiritual retreat for 2024? Contact QCCC today to discuss a camping option to suit your church needs and budget. QCCC has venues to suit low-budget retreats for intentionally seeking solitude with God, to fully catered and accommodated conferences that are family-friendly. Head to qccc.org.au or call us on 07 5456 3600.