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Hello, I’m New

shutterstock_135207233Women 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?

 

Posted in: Ingredients for a Great Retreat, Lessons Learned, Ministry at the Retreat, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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6 Suggestions for your Name Tags

suggestions1How many times have you avoided talking to someone because you know that you should know her name, but you don’t remember it?  Unless all of your women are well acquainted with one another, name tags should be required for all women’s events.

1)  DO print your name tags out beforehand –  Unless you have registration at the door, I much prefer having all the name tags printed and ready for ladies to pick up on arrival. It saves time and confusion as ladies are arriving.

2) DO use a large font – First name should be printed in a large font that can be easily read at a distance.  The surname and other information can be in a much smaller font.

3) DO spell their name correctly!  Have some blank name tags available for corrections.  No one likes their name misspelled,

4) DO choose your font style wisely – Fancy script fonts are much harder to decipher than block fonts.

5) DO remember that women may be dressed up for your event – Sticky name tags and pin-on name tags can both be detrimental to nice material.  It may be wise to limit your name tags to those worn around the neck or clipped on. Read more about retreat name tags here.

6) DO include the event title or graphic on the name tag.  Using the title or theme of the event, the graphic or theme verse turns an ordinary name tag into a keepsake of the event.

Posted in: Ingredients for a Great Retreat, Lessons Learned, 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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Treasures in the Word

宝盒子ī2Today I am going to share with you a Bible reading activity that we have done now at two of our retreats that has elicited an amazing response from the women.

Let me begin by saying: It may be wrong to assume that your women know how to read their Bibles for meaning and personal application. Retreats bring out women who do not regularly attend women’s Bible studies. In addition, your retreat may include other churches and guests.  The response we have received from the exercise I am going to share today highlights the fact that many women do not really know how to read the Bible for themselves.

In preparation, we choose about 25 different scripture passages (each a minimum of 10 verses to a chapter long) and pray that God will sovereignly determine which passage each woman will receive. These are distributed to the women (randomly) in various ways.  This past year, the scriptures were given as a “message in a bottle.”

We did this activity with all the women together as a leader-led activity. After getting their scripture, we gave the women about 10 minutes to read (and re-read) their passage.  Then the leader gave the following instructions, giving the women time to complete each task. Pages were given in their retreat booklets to record their answers.

  • Read your passage, and write down any insights you glean about God or Jesus (His character, His works).
  • Read the passage again, and write down any instructions or commands to obey.
  • Look again. Are there any warnings or wise advice to consider?
  • Read your passage again. Has God made any promises? Write them down.
  • Ask God what He is saying specifically to you through the passage and write it down.

To some of you reading this, this method of reading the Bible may be very familiar; however, to many women, this was revolutionary!

Our prayer is that this is something that they would take from the retreat and put into practice in their personal devotions.

 

Posted in: Ingredients for a Great Retreat, Ministry at the Retreat, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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Why Workshops?

Paper & Pencil Illustration "Workshop"I did a recent survey of our women, asking what elements of a retreat were most important to them. One of the surprises in the results was that a number of the women listed “workshops” in their top five answers.  One woman commented on this.  She said that she likes being able to select a topic, and “hit some areas of my spiritual walk that I need to work on.”

We don’t always have workshops.  In fact, this year we have chosen to omit them, because we are having to fit a fourth Saturday session into the retreat schedule because our guest speaker has to leave early.  Including workshops would take away from the little free time we do have, and that free time crucial to our ladies.

However, we most often do provide workshops of some kind.  Some years we just have a special break-out workshop (separating married women, single women and teens).  One year we centered on God’s Word (Bible survey, studying techniques, having devotions, memorizing scripture). Other ideas would include:  mothers of preschoolers/elementary age/teens, dealing with emotions (anger, guilt, fear, etc.), prayer, friendship…the list is endless. Personally, I especially enjoy a workshop that has a panel discussions so you get a variety of perspectives on the topic.

One note about workshops:  If you anticipate one being better attended than others (for instance, “married women”), we holdthat workshop in the main teaching area.  To avoid having too many people in one workshop, you can have women choose a workshop and then close the workshop when you reach the maximum number that your room can hold.

 

Posted in: Ingredients for a Great Retreat, Ministry at the Retreat, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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