Monday, January 24, 2011

Refresh Your Women's Retreats

Dear Friends,

Are your women’s retreats in a rut? The same women, same traditions, same locations? It’s time to step outside those routines and experience a fresh perspective!

Women invest a lot of time and energy into their families, churches, communities, and work. They sacrifice their own needs for others. A retreat helps them recharge, feel encouraged, and be spiritually fed. But our women’s retreats can become so routine and stuck in tradition that we’re not facilitating the freshness we want to occur in women’s lives. Try one or more of these ideas to revitalize your next retreat.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Getting away for 24 hours is wonderful, but some women aren’t willing or able to leave their families and job for that long. Consider a one-day retreat that lasts only eight hours. Retreat means withdrawal, so even a shorter break can be a rest from the routines of everyday life. When you plan a one-day retreat, you’ll include more women, keep costs affordable, and make planning simpler for you and your team.

An Experience You Won’t Forget

Most groups design their retreats around a speaker, expecting everyone to follow the same schedule and respond to a single person and her message. But when women experience what they’re learning, biblical principles stick with them up to nine times longer! Consider out-of-the-box activities that can be debriefed with discussion and Scripture. Do a ropes course together and then dig into the topic of trust. Embark on a one-day service project and talk about putting faith into action. One group went on a dog-sledding trip—it challenged women physically and then helped them consider challenges God had in store.

Make it Relational

Women like to talk! When people connect, learning becomes more effective and helps build Christian friendships. Don’t ask women to sit and listen for hours on end. Instead, have them get into groups and go for a long walk with three simple questions to prompt their discussion. Mix women up at meals and provide an icebreaker. Play board games that allow for conversation.

Throughout your retreat, plan for plenty of discussion in small groups, with no more than five women per group. This allows everyone to go deeper, grow closer, and build more lasting relationships.

Smarter, not Harder

Why reinvent the wheel when there are retreat resources that have already been tested and fine-tuned? Take advantage of creative ideas and practical tools such as planning timelines, supply lists, schedule suggestions, promotional and registration items, and more. Network with other retreat directors by sharing in online discussion boards. Involve new women to join in as you plan—and be 100 percent open to the new ideas they bring. The more others are involved, the more likely they are to invite friends and create an excellent retreat for everyone.

Step out of those retreat ruts and revitalize the women in your church. Freshen things up and be refreshed yourself!

Happy Planning,

Susan Lawrence

Women’s Ministry Consultant


  1. Wish I would have known about this when hosting women events for 'Family Journal Magazine'. Did several (2002-2007) "Beauty from the Inside Out" events to offset the cost of this nonprofit Christian magazine.

  2. I coordinated a one-day Ladies Retreat at our church last January. This is a good month because our schedules aren't crammed with sports, etc. I tried to incorporate some of the above mentioned elements. We had a brunch and then a short ice-breaker game. This was followed by a testimony and then some worship songs and a break. After the break, there was a teaching, small group discussions and prayer.

    I think it is important to have many elements because we all experience God and hear from Him in different ways.

  3. fantastic! i agree with Barb about the different ways we learn and hear God.
    Incoporating a time of perosnal quiet with the LORD is a top priority as we need to learn to hear well. to do this, i give a short brief to demystify the difficulty of hearing and emphasise it's about being availble to be loved on.
    have wonder-full fun sisters all!