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Starbucks and Your Next Retreat
How to breathe new life into a tired staff or discover a whole new way of doing ministry.

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  • You need to complete a project, but can't in your normal environment. I've been frustrated when we've needed progress on something like a new product launch or engagement with a new marketing tactic, but in each weekly meeting we barely move the barometer forward. With my staff, I've tried to "get away" and retreat together when I realize we're not moving fast enough to get a job done by a deadline, or I feel an issue is worthy of extended, uninterrupted time.
  • Substantial changes are happening and you need understanding and advocacy from your team. I've been part of important retreats to announce complicated structural or staff changes, to communicate new ministry goals, to unveil new products, and after heart-wrenching downsizing. These retreats have clarified our direction, reignited our passion, and helped heal wounds.

If you resonated with any of the reasons above, then you probably need a retreat separate from your normal, regularly-scheduled meetings. Here are six elements that will help make an out-of-box retreat successful.

1) Break from the Norm

In any given day, how many e-mails do you read, phone calls do you take, meetings do you attend, projects do you have to finish, and deadlines do you have to make? It can be overwhelming, can't it?

Retreats let your team focus—away from daily stresses and work tasks that can cloud your minds. Personally, I try to get away from the office once a month so I can focus on a topic or a task that might stoke my own creativity and teach me something new. I encourage my staff to do this occasionally. And, we need to do it together. While I sometimes wrestle with "loss of efficiency" of the day-to-day work that's being missed, I've come to acknowledge that we can't afford not to.

If this is a big worry or a retreat doesn't seem appropriate, most of these tips are flexible in the context of an out-of-the-box meeting—maybe it's scaling your "retreat" to a morning or an afternoon or even thinking about how to be creative in your regular meetings.

2) Infuse Surprise and Excitement

What would encourage your team and keep momentum and energy through the day? Music or other media? Visuals? Humor? Games? A small thank-you gift (everyone appreciates gifts!)? Good food and drink?

I've often used retreats to give my staff a book that has helped my own professional development. We've given small awards to acknowledge good work or have fun with each other. (For example: I recently received the highly coveted "Most Orderly Office" award—that probably tells you something about my personality.) Among the surprises at the aforementioned Starbucks' retreat was sending everyone throughout downtown Seattle to visit some of the city's successful homegrown retailers and report back the experiences and values that help define each of the stores.

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Topics:Assessment, Church Board, Church Staff, Evaluation, Goals, Leadership, Meetings, New ministries, Planning, Resistance, Strategy, Team building, Teams, Teamwork, Transitions, Vision, Volunteers
Filters:Church staff, Management, Pastor, Youth pastor

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July 24, 2012  12:36pm

I thought the information that was shared was very inspiring and would love to incorporate some of the ideas. And it doesn't make me love or hate Starbucks any more or less. This may be a way in for Christians to share the love and gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him!

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July 24, 2012  11:21am

Jesus told us to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." He also used (and commended) the example of the unscrupulous servant. So, learning techniques from the "evil" world is not unbiblical. That said, I do feel that we are looking too much to the world for our definitions of leadership and success.

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Matthew Kratz

July 20, 2012  1:37pm

On January 24th, 2012, Starbucks issued a memorandum declaring that same-sex marriage 'is core to who we are and what we value as a company. http://www.dumpstarbucks.com/


July 19, 2012  11:12am

Cory-- Maybe you should re-think using Starbucks as your example and applauding them for their exemplary leadership when there are thousands of Christians and readers of your leadership e-zine who are boycotting Starbucks because of their intentional and overt support of homosexuality and homosexual marriage. Thanks for your consideration. Phil E

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