Planning a family retreat isn’t easy. In the last two posts, we talked about the why and the what of annual family retreats—why they make sense and you should consider doing one; and what all you can put into your retreat to make it powerful.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the idea of a family retreat and give you tools, encouragement and ideas to make it a reality for your family.


“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” —Hebrews 10:24


This post is the third of THREE focused on Annual Family Retreats. Over at the Father On Purpose community, Kent’s been covering the why’s, the what’s, and the how’s of all things family retreats.

We’ve talked about why you should start planning a family retreat – and how a retreat can be the antidote for the busyness of our lives. We’ve talked about the what—what goes into a family retreat.

Let’s talk about the HOW – the mechanics of getting it on the books and doing it well.

Family retreats give you a unique opportunity for connecting your kids to Christ. One of the key means of doing this is giving your kids age-appropriate responsibility at the retreat. From simply reading a section of Scripture, to leading the Bible content, it is a great way to give kids ownership and help them connect with Christ. We’ll give you a game plan for doing it in this post.

Planning a family retreat.

Hebrews 10:24 says that we are to, “…consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”

For the HOW, we’ll focus on 3 areas:

  1. Building a TIMELINE
  2. Setting the right VENUE
  3. Getting EVERYONE in on the play

#1 Planning a family retreat: build a timeline.

Kent is the guru of family retreats, he recommends you’ll need about 90 days to pull a retreat together. The first thing you’ll do is set the date and start working backward to get things in order. If you set a date at 90 days out, you’ll have plenty of time to work in the various prep items without going crazy.

  • At the 90-day mark you wanna focus on praying and planning – plan your theme, pray for wisdom, pray for assignments
  • At the 60-day mark you wanna make sure you’ve given out assignments and that everyone’s clear on what’s expected
  • At the 30-day mark you wanna check in on assignments and start taking inventory of anything you’ll need that you might be missing. (If you’re watching a movie, do you have it downloaded or on DVD (do you need to take a backup DVD player and some connection cords?; If you’ll be playing certain games, do you have all the pieces?)
  • The week prior you’re prepping food and collecting the final supplies. You don’t have to wait until the last day to check these items off of your list. For example, if you’re going somewhere cold or hot, have you packed all the right clothes and gear (snow boots or sunscreen?) This can be completed a week or so before leaving—so you aren’t creating unnecessary rush and stress.

#2 Planning a family retreat: set the right venue.

Kent’s family usually rents a cabin somewhere fairly local where they are in Louisville, Kentucky. Here’s the point: go somewhere just far enough away from home to get everyone disconnected. Kent suggests finding a local cabin to rent using AirBnB or the like.

Normally, this is the most expensive part of the retreat – and if you’re not in a position to handle this financially, don’t sweat it – you can do an “at home” retreat, you’ll just have to be more intentional about going off the grid. Yes, as you can imagine, you’ll have to work harder to pull the cords from your teen’s phone!

Make the venue as fun and different as possible. Point is to disconnect from the world and reconnect with your family.

#3 Planning a family retreat: get everyone in on the play.

I love hearing Kent talk about how he gets every kid involved. It’s a a key piece of the retreat puzzle. Kent recommends working to get everyone in on the play—by “everyone” he means everyone!

This isn’t a “mom & dad lecture the kids” weekend. Hold that for another weekend! : ) No, as Kent points out, even when his kids were little, he gave them something to do. For example:

  • At age 4 or 5, Kent had his youngest share a short verse he memorized
  • At age 10, Kent had his boys do a mini-devotional (share the scripture, ask us a question, tell us how to apply it)
  • By age 15, He asked his kids to prep and study and bring some insights on a particular Scripture
  • When Kent oldest was 19, he turned the whole retreat planning over to his son and his son gave the family their assignments

Can you imagine the growth, confidence, and closeness your family would have if you did what Kent’s family has done over the years? Man, I’m personally challenged and encouraged by what Kent’s been leading us dads through with family retreats. I’m the guy who’s involved with my family. Sure, we have fun times, experiences, and great memories. But, I confess, the fun and connection only go so far. I’m not leading spiritually in this area as God calls me too—to help my kids rightly divide the word.

I’m grateful for Kent’s leadership and example here with his family. I want to be this type leader with my family. Now, don’t hear Kent’s example and get discouraged if your child is older or already left the house. Maybe you don’t have 10+ years of hosting family retreats. Or maybe you do? Maybe your retreats won’t be from 10 to age 20—but when your child’s from age 40-50? The point here is to start somewhere. We can lead our family’s in way more ways than we think. And, God can redeem our time.

To help you along on this, we built you some tools over at Father On Purpose, if you’re not a member of that community, there’s a ton of family retreat resources—everything from how to pick a theme, full agendas, how to handle prayer cards, a goal-setting template, how to do family survey’s, movie ideas for fun with a point, and how to conduct a family worship time. For you, great readers of this blog, I’ve added the Planning Timeline below as an idea to get you started. Use it as a helpful reminder in the coming days.


Free download > Planning a family retreat [Timeline Template]

The Planning Timeline below is just a sneak peek of what Kent uses for the Evans family:

Planning a family retreat: the mission

So, it’s time to get it done! Schedule your own family retreat – even if this first year you need to do a simple one where you and your family take a Saturday and set it aside. But, do it! When and where are you going to do your family retreat?

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