I love going on a retreat—there is something wonderful about a change of scenery, slowing down, and spending time in community with others. It’s refreshing physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. On a retreat I was involved in this past year, one woman said, “I had no idea how much I needed this.” I think a lot of us feel that way. The opportunity to laugh, be outside in nature, and spend intentional time with God can do something for our souls that lasts.
From the perspective of your women’s ministry or church, a retreat offers focused and prolonged times of discipleship, building relationships, getting to know new people, and even the possibility of identifying potential leaders. It can provide both deeper spiritual engagement and a lot of fun all at the same time!
However, planning a retreat can seem overwhelming. It requires effort, but the blessings are certainly worth it. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Start well in advance. If you give yourself a few months instead of a few weeks, the whole planning process will be more enjoyable and you’ll likely find yourself more creative and less stressed.
2. Pray. This may sound obvious, but far too often we jump into all the details and forget to lay it down at the feet of our heavenly Father who is the only One who can change lives and work in hearts.
3. Build a team. Don’t try to go it alone. You don’t have to be the one organizing all the food, the activities and the booking arrangements. Bring together a group of women who can support each other and use their gifts to “divide and conquer” all that needs to be done. Serving together is a powerful tool and an image of how the body of Christ is meant to function.
4. Keep it affordable. Do whatever you can to keep costs down so that as many people as possible can be part of the retreat. It doesn’t have to be a fancy getaway. You may want to consider scholarships for those who would not be able to join in otherwise.
5. Schedule free time. In our busy lives and hectic schedules, women need some downtime! Resist the temptation to schedule every minute. Allow for free time so women can choose to go for a walk, visit with friends, read a book, or just take a nap.
6. Allow for quiet time. This is different from the point above—try and find opportunities for women to pray, reflect, or journal about what they’re learning, ask questions, or have a discussion in a small group. We retain far more when we have the opportunity to process what we’ve been taught instead of a weekend of “information overload.”
7. Make use of outside resources. Here is where Lifeway Women can help! Lifeway Women has some amazing digital events and options that can ease the load of planning your retreat. As women’s ministry leaders, the two biggest things we often struggle with are finding a speaker and a worship leader! So check out the list below—all available over the next several months:
- August 26, 2023, with on-demand access until September 26 for individuals and small groups / until October 31 for church hosts.
- October 27-28, 2023, with on-demand access until November 28.
- On-demand access December 1–31, 2023.
- April 13, 2024 – on-demand access until May 13 for individuals and small groups / until June 13 for church hosts.
- Available anytime and includes fun accessories like name tags and centerpieces and a sample 2-day retreat guide.
Any of these options make it possible to bring solid Bible teaching and meaningful worship and prayer times to your retreat, often at less cost than an in-person speaker and/or worship leader. They are all flexible and customizable to meet your needs and schedule.
For example, the Going Beyond Simulcast with Priscilla Shirer consists of three sessions in one day when it’s live, but you could view one session on Friday night, the second on Saturday, and the third on Sunday. Prepare Him Room with Kristi McClelland will be approximately two hours in length, so it would fit nicely into a one-day retreat, a Christmas event, or two separate gatherings of one hour each. You could launch the “When you Pray” Bible study at your retreat and then continue it on a weekly basis.
Planning resources and promotional materials are also available for any of these options to help you get started. The possibilities and opportunities for ministry are endless!
Allow the digital studies and events that Lifeway offers to lighten your load a little so that you can focus on other things and enjoy the process. With prayer, a little creativity, and a digital event that meets your group’s needs, you can create a memorable retreat with the potential for eternal impact!
ABOUT WENDY TOMLINSON
Wendy Tomlinson lives just outside Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her husband Dan. They have 24 year old twins, and enjoy traveling as a family. She also loves Bible study and chocolate! She is involved in women’s ministry at her church, as well as the simulcast and event specialist teams at Lifeway.