By Cyndee Ownbey
As I write this month’s newsletter, I am knee-deep in the final preparations for our women’s ministry retreat. I was asked to oversee our retreat schedule this year.
As I looked over the retreat schedule, I wanted to make sure our women had some downtime. Retreats tend to be a bit intense as a lot of information is shared in a short amount of time.
Women need space to prayerfully process through the retreat content.
- How do they sense God wants them to respond?
- What pieces of the message does God want them to carry home?
- What new things did they learn?
If all we offer is one speaker or devotional session after another, women will be overwhelmed. To provide that space to process and retain what they’ve learned, we must sprinkle in activities and discussion times throughout our retreat schedule. Our focus isn’t just on growing each women’s relationship with God but also growing in their relationships with one another.
Including a table or group discussion after each session helps process the content and develop deeper relationships with one another. I’m often impressed with the depth of sharing that happens when you give women the space to reflect on a session.
When we host two-night retreats, we always include a block of free time. Women are welcome to rest in their room, explore the retreat grounds, or drive into a nearby town. Our retreat team includes a list of local attractions in our retreat programs so women can make plans. Before we break for our free time, we help coordinate carpools to the various activity locations.
Icebreaker games also provide opportunities for your women to engage with one another. Look for games that invite women to share with each other. The best icebreaker games will help women uncover connections to each other, spurring future conversations. Another benefit of icebreaker games is movement. Getting women up and physically moving through icebreaker games can revive a group that’s beginning to get tired.
Our team also coordinates optional late-night activities, giving women another opportunity to socialize. This year on Friday night we’ll play board games, and on Saturday night we’ll watch a lighthearted Christian movie. We find some women want that extra space to fellowship with one another and others are glad to retire to their rooms.
So how do we put all of these pieces together in our schedule? Typically, our main sessions start with a brief welcome and opening prayer followed by an icebreaker game. Then we move into worship which helps prepare our hearts for the message. We end with about 30–45 minutes of discussion group time.
As you make plans for your next retreat, be sure to consider how your schedule can balance activities, devotionals, and social components. Your women will appreciate it!
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