lightstock_129013_medium_user_1393445Here are 10 + 2  ideas that should get you started on planning a wonderful retreat for your congregation or group. If you are looking for a theme idea, GodPonders has several retreat packages already written for you: more on that at the end of this post.

1. Pray. Start all your planning with prayer. Pray about the topic/title, the leadership team, sorting through all the ideas the group has, location, schedule, music, and every aspect of the retreat.  Most of all pray for the people.  Pray that those who need to attend register and pray for those who register by name.  Letting them know the first night that you have been praying for them gets the retreat off to a great start.

2. Work with a team.  This may seem obvious, but sometimes one person wants the idea to  materialize so strongly they try to do it all themselves.  More ideas and more hands make a great retreat.

3. Plan ahead.  Most retreat centers and camps need 10-12 months to get a reservation during prime dates.  You will also need a deposit to hold a reservation.  Planning this far in advance also allows you to plan a great retreat.

4.  Choose location carefully.  Ask your team:

  • Do we want hotel style rooms, bunk beds, or something in-between?
  • How many bottom bunks do we have/do we need?
  • What kind of meeting space is available – tables & chairs, couches, crafting tables?
  • How far will people have to drive to get there?  (It should be far enough that no one is tempted to leave and come back but close enough that there is time for program on the first night).
  • How good is the food?  Ask for references and check this question out with them.  Good food does not leave a bad taste in an otherwise great retreat.

5.  Decide the type of retreat.  Make a decision early what type of retreat you want to do so energy is not used on ideas and planning that doesn’t fit the type of retreat you have. Some possibilities are:

  • Intensive Bible study retreat
  • Meditation/Silent retreat
  • Prayer retreat
  • Spa-like retreat
  • Crafting with Bible Study retreat
  • Speaker led topical retreat

6. Use music for singing – no matter what!  Don’t be afraid to use music tracks if you do not have musicians attending the retreat.  Music is soothing, healing, and often a common source of fun and joy. Use songs that will be familiar to most of the people who are attending the retreat. Singing adds to a great retreat.

7. Allow for Free Time. Women’s lives are often very scheduled.  They enjoy times to just be.  And, of course, women love to talk and connect with others at the retreat.  Time for great conversation helps make a great retreat.

8. Be aware of meeting space. Have someone on your team be in charge of decorating and ambiance.  Have many decorative reminders of the retreat theme.  Make the meeting space comfortable and lovely rather than stark and drab.  This can be the difference between a good retreat and a great retreat.

9. Make your topic/title intriguing and interesting. Whether you are using a packaged retreat or writing your own, choose a title that engages interest but will be challenging as the group goes through the weekend.  The material should start somewhat light-hearted and superficial and gradually get more serious and spiritually challenging.  A great retreat has women feeling that something has changed in their lives as a result of the time spent at the retreat.

10. Plan a schedule. Even if you are having a more relaxed style retreat use a schedule and provide it for everyone. This allows everyone to have a sense of what is happening when.  Be prepared, however, to be flexible and adjust as needed as the weekend goes along.  A schedule organizes a great retreat.

BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE!  Here are 2 bonus ideas!

1. Have fun. Start your retreat with ice breakers or community building games.  Then make up a  game that fits with the retreat topic in some way.  This is not a necessity, but I have found women really find this fun.  Take a familiar word/picture game and rewrite clues etc. to fit your theme.  Play charades with categories relating to your topic. Invent a totally new game.  Having fun makes a great and memorable retreat.

2.. Arrive early on site. Your leadership team should arrive early to get the space arranged, decorated, familiarize yourselves with the retreat facilities, and pray together before the participants arrive.  This helps everyone relax, be comfortable and experience a great retreat.

Want to know more about retreat ideas and themes?  Visit our Women’s Retreat Topics Page.  Want to check Shirley’s availability to lead a Women’s retreat for your group just CLICK HERE.

<>< Shirley

QUESTION: If you could hold a women’s retreat anywhere, where would you go? In what month would you hold your retreat?  Let the conversation begin. CLICK HERE

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