Women rarely announce that they are new, or that they are attending their first-ever retreat or women’s event. Attending a first retreat or event can be daunting, particularly if one is also new to the church and yet to get acquainted with women. It takes a lot of courage to attend an event where you know no one!
I would suggest that you identify those first-timers, and look for other indicators that she is stepping out of her comfort zone to attend your retreat or event. This may not be as easy as just looking for names you don’t recognize among those who have registered. You can ask each woman as she registers if they have attended a retreat in the past, or put a box on the registration form for the woman to check if this is her first time to attend a retreat. Upon registration, if a roommate is not designated, that could indicate that she doesn’t know anyone to ask to be her roommate.
Once you have identified the women who are new:
- Assign someone to call the woman before the retreat to answer questions and see if she has special needs or needs a ride to the retreat;
- Inform the greeters at the retreat so they can give her a special welcome upon her arrival and introduce her to others;
- Assign a “room hostess” to be their roommate and to sit with them at the retreat.
Have you thought of other ways to welcome those who are new?
Our retreat is less than a week away. We have spent weeks in preparation and registration for the event. We are looking forward to our guest speaker. We are anxious about details. You probably know the drill.
But pretty soon, the big weekend will be here. Listen to these words from “Steal My Show” by TobyMac:
If you wanna steal my show
I’ll sit back and watch you go
If you got something to say
Go on and take it away
Need you to steal my show
Can’t wait to watch you go oh oh oh
So take it away.
YES! That’s what we want. We want the Holy Spirit to come and “steal the show” and we’ll sit back and watch Him go. We’ve done all we can…but He is the only One who can take our feeble efforts and use the weekend to transform lives.
They are all around us–the “we know a better way” folks. We all have those women who, from their vantage point, always know a “better way” to do the things we are doing. Often, their ideas and suggestions are valid, and could be helpful in the right time. But it does seem that these women are never available in the planning stages–but are more than happy to step up and offer their opinion after the ball is already rolling. You have a plan for decorations, and are busy implementing that plan…and along comes that person who knows a better way and has a better idea.
What is your response going to be? I know it’s frustrating, and it’s tempting to see their input as criticism of what your are doing. We can’t give in to the response our flesh would like to give! Instead, be kind, be graceful, be loving. A simple “we’re going to do it this way this time” should suffice, followed by an invitation to be a part of the process for the next event.
I can tell from the number of “hits” on this website that many are looking ahead and starting to plan for upcoming women’s events and retreats. We are too. So far, we have the theme, the date and the venue nailed down. We thought we had a speaker, but we are back to square one on that. Here in the planning stages, I have to admit, our retreat schedules and activities look very much the same from year to year. We alway have promise verses; we always have a quiet time study; for the past few years, we have done an interactive Bible study workshop, all of which our ladies have come to expect along with the teaching sessions.
During Bible study this spring, I felt like the Lord spoke to me from a story in the Old Testament. If you remember, in Exodus 17, the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness and there was no water for them to drink. The Lord told Moses to take his rod and strike the rock in Horeb. When he did, water came out for the people to drink. Later, in Numbers 20, Moses faced a similar situation–thirsty complaining Israelites. This time the Lord told Moses to take his rod and speak to the rock, and it would give forth water. However, Moses took the rod and struck the rock twice. Water again came out for the people. However, this was an act of unbelief and disobedience, and because of it, God punished Moses.
I have always looked at this story as willful disobedience on the part of Moses. However, I looked at the story a little differently this time. What if Moses was doing what he knew worked the first time? That doesn’t excuse his disobedience, but it does make me understand him a little better.
As we plan this year, are we falling back on schedules and activities which have worked before? Or are we seeking the Lord for His direction, being open to His changes and new things? It is something to ponder. I don’t want to fall into sin just because I was only doing what worked before. Don’t be tied to the past; don’t assume that what worked before is how God wants to work now!
My husband has the “unfortunate” ability to predict the outcome of movies and TV shows. He is rarely surprised by a plot twist; somehow he instinctively knows who the bad guys are and what will happen before it happens. Sometimes I will ask “Have you seen this before?” His answer is “No, it just makes sense.” And normally within a few minutes, it happens just as he has predicted.
Me–I’m perfectly content not knowing ahead of time, and being surprised as the story unfolds–at least when we’re talking movies or TV.
However, when it comes to retreat or event planning, I prefer NO surprises. I appreciate being able to predict the course of events, and to plan ahead for any contingencies or unforeseen glitches. Of course, we do try to anticipate potential problems and plan for them. But there are always “plot twists” — things that come up that are totally unpredictable and out of our control. A speaker gets ill at the last minute; the venue makes a last-minute change; the equipment doesn’t work or is incompatible; a skit prop doesn’t make it to the venue; or, at the very least, you have a bad hair day… You can pretty much count on something happening.
We’ve been there many times. My advice? Remember that what we consider a “plot twist” was ultimately orchestrated by our loving Father, who is in control. Do your best and commit the rest. These “plot twists” are not a surprise to Him. Sometimes I think God allows something unpredictable so that He can work in a new way in our midst, and then He will get the glory.