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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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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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Telling Your Story – Some Reminders

Typewriter What is Your StoryRecently I shared about the impact that sharing our testimony can have on listeners.  I have been reminded of a few further things that may be worth considering should you have the opportunity to share your testimony.  Greg Laurie, in a recent email devotion, wrote “I don’t understand why God would use someone as foolish as me or you to articulate His message.  But the Holy Spirit can make that message resonate with the listener if we are simply bold enough to share it.”  He continued with the following reminders:  Make Jesus the focus of your testimony.  You tell your story to point to His story.  Don’t glorify or exaggerate your past.  There is power in your story, whether dramatic or not.

When you share your testimony, don’t emphasize the darkness. Don’t spend a disproportionate amount of time on your former life of rebellion and sin; Your emphasis should be on how God worked in your life, the changes He made and His amazing love and power that brought you out of darkness into “His marvelous light.”

 

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

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The Word of our Testimony

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“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”   

I am a firm believer that one of the most powerful tools we have as believers is our personal testimony.  We should all be prepared to share the story of how we met Jesus and the changes He has made in our lives–whenever and wherever God opens the door. Every testimony of a transformed life has an impact. Some have more a more dramatic, life-changed-in-an-instant testimony; others have the less dramatic, but still life-changing testimony.

I love the spontaneous sharing of testimonies that happens during times of fellowship or sharing one-on-one. But it has been on my heart to include more testimonies as part of our women’s events. Yes, we want to teach the Word at every event. But when I saw this graphic, it rang true with me. Often, just hearing someone else’s story of how Jesus changed their life is the “key that unlocks someone else’s prison.”  And often, just in the sharing of “our story” we are strengthened as we remember the miracle that God did in our own life! 

There is one caution as you consider having someone share their testimony from the pulpit in front of the group at your retreat or women’s event. The enemy attacks those who agree to share their testimony–you can count on it.  As much as possible before asking someone to share in front of your group, make sure that their foundation is sure.  Don’t call on someone new to the faith (or as I Timothy puts it “not a novice”).  Make sure you have seen the solid foundation in their life (or as I Timothy phrases it “let these also be proved”).  

Posted in: Lessons Learned, Ministry at the Retreat, News & Information

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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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