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The “WOW” Factor

wow_factorSomething I love:  I love walking into a women’s event and, at my first glimpse of the room and its decorations, my first reaction is “WOW.”  I love being surprised and excited about what is to come based on the look of the room.  The world calls that “The WOW Factor.”  I’m here to tell you that “The WOW Factor” does not require a huge decorating budget, which most smaller churches do not have.

What the “WOW Factor” does require is someone with vision who is willing to develop it within your working budget.  We are a small church.  Sometimes we may have a little left in our account from previous retreats or events which is available to use.  We are trying to keep the price of the retreat down as much as possible, so we try to add as little as possible to the individual retreat price.

Here are a few ideas for creating a budgetary margin for decorations:

  • Offer table decoration for sale after the event
  • Add a small amount to the individual’s cost for the event designated to decorations
  • Use multi-purpose decorations that can double as give-aways
  • Use the crafting talents of your ladies to create what would be too expensive to purchase
  • Do focal point decorating

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Decorations, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, Money-Saving Tips, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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The Top 6 Items to Have on your Retreat Hospitality Table

The-top-six-300x296Every retreat should have a hospitality table where women can find items needed to make their retreat experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Women forget to pack essential items and things that they didn’t realize they would need, and we try to anticipate those items to have them available. We have our table of supplies in the back of the meeting space and during announcements, we point it out so women will know it is there.

After every retreat, we store unused supplies until the next year, when we replenish and expand our offerings, according to need.

We have miscellaneous items available, including umbrellas, pens, toothbrushes, Kleenex, etc. But from my observation, here are the six most popular items to have available at your hospitality table:

#6 -Earplugs – you can purchase these very cheaply, and they may help some ladies have a good night’s sleep in an unfamiliar setting with roommates.

#5 -Toiletries (of course) in sample sizes in case your women left home without them.  If you retreat at a hotel, the hotel provides some of these things (shampoo, soap, etc.), but if you are in a camp-style venue, you need to have supplies such as shampoo/conditioner, soaps, toothpaste, lotions, etc.

#4-Feminine care products – this goes without saying. Women come unprepared!

#3- Throws – Venues are normally kept cool (even in the warmer months), which is acceptable for the majority of your women, but others will be uncomfortable and distracted because they are cold.  If we could offer something for the middle-aged ladies who run hot, we would!

#2-Basic medical supplies – Tylenol and Ibuprophen, antibiotic creams, bandaids and throat lozenges are a must.  If you are in a more rural setting, bug spray, Benedryl and calamine lotion may be indicated.  We have even had pain relief patches available in our more recent retreats.

#1. Can you guess what #1 is?  CHOCOLATE!  Are you surprised?  We always provide mints, hard candies, and small chocolates.  Chocolates disappear first!

Posted in: Ingredients for a Great Retreat, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, Ministry at the Retreat, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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Decisions and Deadlines

dont miss deadlineDoes having a deadline change the way you make women’s ministry decisions?

As I write this, we are still weeks away from our annual women’s retreat. By now, all the “big” decisions have been made.  To the best of our ability and by God’s grace, we have tried to hear and follow the Lord’s direction.  We have a location, a date, a theme, a guest speaker and a preliminary schedule. Many, but not all responsibilities have been assigned.  Our retreat remembrance is already purchased, as are some of the decorations.  The big decisions have been made. Sounds like it should be downhill from here, doesn’t it?

But in ministry as in life, sometimes it is the minor decisions where it is the hardest to discern God’s will.  And we have a lot of decisions on the line…and a deadline that is looming. So, what are our options?

  • Take the decision to the women’s ministry team and take a vote?
  • Assume that what we did in past years is best for this year?
  • Use our logic and common sense and just go for it?
  • Wait on God?

When you look at the options spelled out like that, the obvious answer is “wait on God.”  Not so easy when you see the deadline approaching and other tasks can’t be completed until those decision are made.  Here’s one example:  We want to offer workshops at this retreat.  How many do we offer? Should there be three? Should they be repeated? Who will teach the workshops? Those decisions need to be made soon, as they affect the timetable of other tasks.  We cannot finish the booklet and send it to the printer until those decision are made.

Remember, God is always on time, and He promises wisdom to those who ask.  I have no doubt that things will fall into place. It’s tempting to run ahead to get it done! But our job is to pray about the decision, pray for wisdom and direction, ask God to close or open doors and then….wait for His direction.

 

Posted in: Lessons Learned, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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A Little More about Guest Speakers

I believe that weGuest-Speaker-Event-400x400 all receive more from a speaker when we feel a personal connection with her.

For instance, last year our guest speaker was a fairly well-known retreat speaker.  The whole circumstance of her being here was a miracle in many ways, because we, as a small church, normally couldn’t afford a more well-known speaker.  However, because she had been a personal friend of our late pastor’s wife, she offered to do this retreat, knowing that it would be our first without our beloved pastor’s wife at the helm.  The majority of our ladies had never met the speaker, but I believe that all of us felt a deeper connection to her and her message because we knew that she understood and had suffered the same loss.  In addition, as she shared some difficulties that her family had faced in the previous year, more connections were made with ladies in similar situations.

Yes, that was a very unique year.  However, the same holds true with every guest speaker.  If they share from their personal life or highlights of their testimony at the beginning of our retreat, often these moments will provide that personal connection for our ladies.  That connection will be a conduit for the message and application of the truths she shares.

Posted in: Lessons Learned, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning, Your Guest Speaker

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A Speaker Speaks

5208fdc422fbc.imageI recently had an opportunity to sit down with a popular retreat speaker and ask her some frank questions. I believe her answers will help us serve our guest speakers.  I am going to bullet point her comments below. Remember, I am speaking from a small church perspective!

  • Questions to ask prior to the event:
    •       What drink or snacks do you prefer?
    •       Do you have any allergies?
    •       What equipment do you need?
    •       Do you like to have breakfast served in your room so you can prepare for the day?
  • Assign someone to be the speaker’s helper–someone she can call upon for any problem or need.  Give the speaker a number to text to get this person’s help.
  • Do a sound check with the speaker, as well as confirming that she knows how to use any other equipment she needs (for instance, if she is using a pointer or projecting slides).  Microphones and other equipment differ from place to place.
  • We don’t do this, but apparently some churches will decorate the speaker’s room, even to the point of leaving her a cozy robe. But the question arises: Do they mean for me to take these things home? If you do decorate her room, be sure she knows what is hers to take.
  • Announcements directly after a speaker’s session can distract from what God is doing.  Give God time to work. A time of reflection after a teaching session can be helpful.
  • Give the honorarium check discreetly, after the retreat, and enclose a specific thank-you written after the event.  Giving your women an opportunity to contribute their comments and thank-yous to this is an added blessing.
  • If you leave a gift basket for your guest speaker in her room:
    • Remember: if she is flying, a basket may be difficult to carry on an airplane.
    • Hotel or camp water may not be to her liking; include bottled water if it is not provided.
    • Eating prior to a session may be hard for her; include some snacks in her gift basket (healthy protein snacks, trail mix, bananas).
    • Socks are nice.
  • It is nice to have a coffee pot (or tea, if preferred) in the speaker’s room.

 

Posted in: Lessons Learned, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning, Your Guest Speaker

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