Successful Retreats

Women's Ministry Brainstorm

I. Purposes of a retreat

Provide a safe place for healing, understanding and growth
Help women grow closer to God
Demonstrate a need for change or movement
Show how the Bible applies to women–how God speaks through the Word
Promote connections among women
Encourage fellowship/sharing/connecting
Help women recognize their identity in Christ
Equip and empower women to find their unique ministry
Promote understanding, recognition and development of gifts and talents
Inspire leadership development and opportunities

II. Elements of a successful retreat

Prayer--without prayer it is just an activity
Good organization and clear delegation
Timeline: deadlines for each step of preparations
Flexibility--problems will arise
Appropriate facilities, including adequate restrooms
Vision and focus--why is this retreat needed?
Mission statement--purpose of this retreat
Advertising: Send details to Tammy to put on web site
Send announcements to neighboring church areas. Invite guests.
Speakers--relevant, credible and enjoyable

III. Frequently used components

Opening mixer
Teaching and inspiration
Presentations with Practical application for life
Breakout workshops
Devotional time
Time alone with God. Instruct the group not to talk to anyone during this
time. It's time to be alone with God. Give suggested guidelines, scriptures, devotional sheet.
Optional--craft activity to take home
Free time for individual fellowship
Anonymous opinion survey to learn from mistakes and get input

IV. Incorporating prayer before the retreat

Put prayer teams in place months in advance of retreat/conference

Pray for speakers and let them know they are being prayed for

Start praying for each attendee when their registration arrives (pray about
hindrances that might prevent them from coming: finances, health, family, work)

Pray God would bring the people to the retreat or conference he wants to minister to.

Pray he would prepare the heart of all coming to be receptive to his provision for them personally.

Encourage prayer support for all aspects of retreat/conference planning and provide specific prayer request guide.

V. Finding speakers

Listen to a speaker on tape or in person before selecting

Know her basic beliefs to avoid surprises

Listen to tapes from Women's Ministry Institute or CMTA to find experienced

Speakers: CMTA, 135 E. Live Oak Ave. Suite 103,Arcadia, CA 91006-5253

Which women have spoken successfully in your women's ministry or church?

Do your elders’ wives wish to speak?

Ask your regional or district elder's wife

Ask a neighboring elder's wife

Ask a professional in the field of your theme who is a good speaker

Contact women's ministries in other denominations in your area for ideas

Schedule speakers early--national speakers require a year’s notice

Focus on the Family has a list of speakers: 1-800-A-FAMILY

The American Association of Christian Counselors may be helpful

Women’s Ministry Institute, 1605 E. Elizabeth, Suite U7, Pasadena, CA 91104

VI. Tips to meet each woman’s needs

Be aware of and offer variety to accommodate learning styles, personalities, mix of new and long-time Christians

Know what ages are represented in the registered participants. The 30s to 40s might need stress or time management The 40s to 50s might need dealing with the empty nest, starting new careers, gift discovery. The 60s and above might need encouragement to be mentors or issues on loneliness or grief. Young mothers don't always feel comfortable leaving their children for a full day. Offering a day rate for part of the retreat might draw them to the event.

Build on what has worked well for the group in the past.

Include what women said they wanted on the pervious year’s evaluations.

Tip: Use turning in evaluation surveys as a way to enter door prize drawings.

VII. What really makes a retreat special?

The retreat speaker’s connection and relevancy to the women

Details, details, details

Communicating the message or theme of the weekend in every possible way

so each woman goes home knowing what the message was.

Cheerful decorations, name tags, programs relating to the theme

Barnabus’ Boxes, (mailboxes for receiving encouraging notes)

Little gifts for each person

Greetings or scriptures under the door each morning

VIII. Finding a theme

Have your council pray for a relevant, poignant theme and ask God to emphasize a theme scripture. Get input from your entire group of women. Once the theme is chosen, your retreat comes together!

Use any spiritual discipline or fruit of the spirit. Freedom in Christ. Focus on getting to know God better, how he interacts with you. Spiritual growth.

IX. Examples of themes/topics

Faith in the Midst of the Jungle    Walking by faith

Soaring on Eagles Wings God’s faithfulness

May Your Cup Overflow With Love Growing in God’s love

Safe in the Arms of our Lord Security in Christ

As the Sands of the Sea Finding your ministry

God Is Always at Home Prayer the two-way conversation

Straight Is the Path The Bible as your handbook

The Search for Hidden Treasure Bible application to daily life

Crucified With Christ Putting the old man to death

Living Outside the Box Legalism and the Christian

Come Out, Come Out Being transparent

Being a Woman of Influence Impacting your world

Scaling the Mountain Perseverance

Under the Banner of the Lord Names of God

In His Image Reflecting Jesus daily

How to Walk Your Talk Integrity

X. Examples of WCG Women's Ministry themes

Celebrate Being a Woman of God

Christian Women Building (Ps. 127:1)

Building Bridges

Becoming Better and Brighter Beacons for God

Give Me an Undivided Heart That I May Fear Your Name (Ps. 86:11)


Building Relationships

Sharing the Joy

Women, Arise and Renew the Spirit

Women Who Live for the Lord

Celebrating the Seasons of Our Lives

Walking in Christ's Footsteps

Expanding Your Connection With God

Times of Refreshing

Celebrating God's Love

Seasons of a Woman

Growing in the Lord

Fix your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2)

The Three Rs of a Retreat (Rejoice, Reflect and Release)

Building Friendships With God, With Others and With Yourself

Nurturing Children (Four Aspects: Spiritual, Emotional, Social and Mental)

The Art of Encouragement

Sharing Jesus

Family Relationships (The 4 Rs: Roles, Relationships, Rules and Rituals)

Our Identity in Christ (Reference: In His Image by PhillipYancey)

 XI. Good mixers

Pamper Room–have women come early to give and receive shoulder massage,

manicure, pedicure, foot rub, touch up make up.

Variation: receive instruction on foot massage, then practice on each other

Get-to-know-you treasure hunt

Games that cause the guests at each table to interact

Encourage each person to change tables for each meal so she gets a chance to meet new people.

Team games designed to throw different age groups together

Faith Olympics–3 to 4 team games tied to scriptures on faith

Pass the Mustard Seed--is a fun relay team game: One team member runs to a large bowl in the center of the room with tweezers, picked up a mustard seed and ran back to the team and puts the seed in the team cup. Next team member does the same until all have run the course.

Move the Mountain--a relay where you pass a plate of jello (in the shape

of a mountain) down the line and back and then the first team member runs to the back of the line and passes it again. Each time the member at the head of the line runs to the back of the line until finally the first player is at the front again. The first team to finish wins.

Every participant introduces a woman next to her after quickie interview

Write down your most prominent gift. Pass it to the person on your right. Pray

for the gift of the person on your left.

XII. What is one lesson you have learned from putting on a retreat?

Most successful workshops are on life's struggles women experience

Craft time allows those who love crafts but never have the time at home. They complete and take home a project as a memento of the event. It needs to be simple and useful.

Don’t overbook the time. Some women need quiet time, so budget plenty of it.

Book a place that lends to worship and instruction. Some retreat locations do not minister to this.

Go and listen to your speaker before booking. Don’t go with someone's recommendation or because you read her book. Sometimes tapes are available.

XIII. Prayer opportunities for the individual during the retreat

Woman can wear a yellow rose to let others know she is an available prayer partner.

Make rooms available for people to pray together.

Those who wish to can draw names for prayer partners.

Prayer Bath: Groups of four, sharing their prayer requests. Everyone gets prayed for three times or more.

Adopt-a-Prayer basket. Pass the basket to put requests in, then pass again to withdraw a request to pray for.

Barnabas Box Instructions Given Attendees

Remember how Barnabas stood firmly with Saul in the early days of his conversion and took him under his wing when the other Jewish Christians were afraid of him? He sounds like a person we would enjoy being around. His name means "son of encouragement." Don't we all need the encouragement and love of our brothers and sisters—someone to stand by us along life's path?

You have a Barnabas Box here at this retreat. It is on a table in the dining hall in alphabetical order. In it you will find treasures and surprises you will not want to miss. Check your box often and remove whatever you find there to make room for more.

We all want to be encouraging to others so during your time here, please try to write many notes of love, thanks and encouragement, to others and place them in their Barnabas Boxes. You don't have to sign your notes, but it is even more special for the recipient to know who sent the encouragement and it adds to the bond of love between the two of you. Think of these notes as verbal hugs and try to hug as many people as possible during this time together.