Theme Ideas for Christian Retreats

Updated April 17, 2017

Successful Christian retreats help people grow in their walk with God while enjoying a getaway from the stresses of daily life. Coordinate speakers, study groups and activities for your retreat around a spiritually-uplifting theme. A great theme gives retreat participants a central idea to focus on and ponder throughout their trip.

Bible Themes

Some of the most straightforward themes for Christian retreats are those based on a book or verse of scripture. For example, you could focus your retreat on John 3:16 and invite speakers to discuss the meaning and impact of that verse. You might also make an entire book of the Bible the theme of your retreat, such as Proverbs. Spend the retreat studying your chosen book or verse carefully as you discuss ways to apply its principles to your life.

Topic Themes

Instead of choosing a certain verse or book of the Bible, you can select a topic central to Christian thought and living as the theme for your retreat. You might choose the theme "worship" and dedicate much of the retreat to worship through song, as well as studying portions of scripture that discuss worship. The topic "wisdom" also makes a great focus for a Christian retreat. You can centre the weekend around practical ways to glean God's wisdom and use it in your daily life.

Theological Principles

For a more scholarly retreat, such as one for aspiring pastors or seminary students, select a theme that addresses an important theological principle. For example, you might devote your retreat to studying the theological mystery of the Trinity or substitutionary atonement. Invite speakers who are experts on your chosen subject and select Bible passages and scholarly writings addressing your topic to read during the retreat. If your retreat is interdenominational, be careful not to select controversial themes that different denominations do not agree upon, such as predestination or transubstantiation.

Interpersonal Themes

Interpersonal themes help retreat-goers learn to improve their relationships. You could theme your retreat around improving parent-child relationships and invite parents to bring their sons and daughters. A mother-daughter retreat theme would focus on issues specific to women and include more feminine activities, like a tea party, while a father-son retreat might include camping outdoors and sports. You can also invite husbands and wives and theme your retreat around God's plan for romance and marriage. Marriage retreats can include romantic dinners and dances as well as serious prayer, worship and Bible studies.

Fanciful Themes

Inject more fun into your retreats by choosing a theme based on fairy tales or even superheroes. Always relate your theme back to scripture and God. A women's retreat might be princess-themed and focus on helping women understand that they are royalty in God's kingdom. You can decorate the facility like a fairy tale castle and have a "Cinderella" ball. A men's retreat might be Superman-themed and focus on portraying Jesus as the ultimate, perfect superhero who came to save us. You could also challenge retreat attendees to be "Supermen" themselves by devoting their lives to serving others.

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About the Author

Sarah Badger is a certified pilates and group fitness instructor, writer and dance teacher. Her work has appeared in "Dance Spirit" magazine and several literary journals. Badger earned her bachelor's degree in English and religious studies from Marymount Manhattan College, and currently owns a dance and fitness studio in upstate New York.