Teams who are just forming, or who have an important project, need to take the time to form as a team. A team retreat is a time for the members of the team to get to know one another and figure out how to work well together. The team will be doing difficult work in the congregation, first by planning and then by leading the congregation through some sort of change process. The team members need to know the dynamics of change management, how to design a process for the project at hand, how to facilitate engagement and input of the rest of the congregation, and when to act as change agents.
A team needs to know their various skills and abilities. The retreat is a time to do that.
An outside facilitator can be helpful in meeting the goals of the retreat. This person could be a member of the congregation or a neighboring congregation, regional staff or an adjunct consultant, or someone from a local social service agency. The retreat facilitator should be aided in understanding the goals of the retreat. The major goals are as follows:
- Get better acquainted, and deeply acquainted. You will be on a long journey together.
- Build trust. There will be issues, principles, processes, people, and anxiety around you, and you may disagree—sometimes intensely. You need to develop the trust and mutual understanding among you that are essential to following through with the process in a healthy way.
- Learn about one another’s skills and interests so you can begin to divide up the tasks ahead.
- Build a covenant on how you will do the work together, including how to communicate with one another, deal with deadlines, and other important tasks.
- Develop a design and time line for the process.
- Develop your bases for making decisions. Using a consensus process is to be hoped for, but having a backup procedure is wise. Gather information on processes to enable good choices to be made.
- Under what circumstances will you vote?
- By what plurality must decisions be made?
- How will you deal with disagreements?
- When do you need to have unity in the process?
- Develop your plan for communicating with the governing board and the congregation.
- How will you include key leaders and staff in the process?