Successful Retreats

Women's Ministry Brainstorm

Thanks to Sarah Woodfield and the Northwest Women’s Ministry Directors,the Regional Directors’ and District Superintendents’ Wives, and Maryann Stevens for brainstorming with us to develop this project.

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.

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 D. Live Oak Ave., Suite 103, Arcdia, 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 elders' wife.

Ask a neighbor church elders' 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 - see description at end of page)

Little gifts for each person

Greetings or scriptures under the door each morning

VIII. Finding a theme

Have your council pary 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 toknow 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
Under the Banner of the Lord      Names of God
In His Image                               Reflecting Jesus daily
How to Walk Your Talk              Integrity

Examples of WCG Women's Minstry 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

The prayer partners can wear a yellow rose to let others know she is available for prayer.

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.

 Barnabus Box Instructions to give Attendees

Remember how Barnabus 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 Barnabus 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 Barnabus 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.