Archive for Starting Points in Retreat Planning

Make a Timeline

A timeline, or retreat planning calendar, is basically a schedule of what needs to be done by when in the planning of an event.  It is wise to plan 9 to 12 months ahead of time.  For a smaller event, 3 to 6 months may be sufficient.  A longer timeline is helpful for smaller groups where individuals carry a bigger load.  Planning a year in advance is not too soon, especially when speaker and venue availability is an issue.

It is a little like being pregnant!  You have a 9-month deadline and have a list of things that need to be done before the date arrives.  Based on that “due date,” you plan accordingly, and you know how much time you have before the “big day” arrives.  There are things you can do almost immediately and things that will have to wait until just prior to the event.

When making your event timeline, begin with any cut-off dates that you have with the venue where the event will take place.  Hotels, as well as other venues tell you the final date when they need to receive your list of attendees, which helps them plan for rooms and meals.  These deadlines help you know how much time you have to plan and when to start and end registration.  For example, if the hotel rooming list is due on November 1 for our November 12 retreat, I know that I need to schedule registration to end before that day and give myself time to make room adjustments.  I also need to determine how many weeks our women will have to sign up, and coordinate church and bulletin announcements.  So, in the above scenario, where the rooming list is due on Nov. 1, registration would begin in mid-September and end at the end of October, when final payment would be due.

  • Nov. 12  RETREAT
  • Nov. 1  Hotel requires rooming list
  • Oct. 25  End retreat registration
  • Sept.15  Begin retreat registration

This is the core of your retreat planning calendar.  Other due dates and related events can be added to this as you go, helping to keep your planning on schedule.

Posted in: Lessons Learned, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning, Starting Points in Retreat Planning

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What’s New?

What's new?New and exciting things have been happening at Retreat-in-a-Bag!

I am most excited to announce our new downloadable Retreat Guide.  This is the first of (hopefully) many to come. This Retreat Guide gives you resources specific to the theme “Hidden Riches,” including theme verse, ideas and links to decorations we used, color photos, teaching sessions outline, quiet time study and skit (reproducible theme graphics are not provided).  I have to say that our recent retreat with this theme was one of our sweetest retreats ever, as we compared our Christian life to a mining expedition where we search for hidden  treasures. And the greatest treasure of all is to know the Lord!

In addition, our Retreat-in-a-Bag book series, consisting of three books, is now downloadable. Up until now, they have only been available for purchase as a hard copy.  Now you can get what you need instantly from the Retreat-in-a-Bag website. Compared to the Retreat Guide just mentioned, each of these books covers general information for those planning a retreat from start to finish, but they include theme-related resources as well (graphic, quiet time, skit).

We have been adding content to our free downloadables – with new skits, quiet time studies and even a new downloadable form or two.  So if you haven’t been to the website for a while, it may be worth your time to take a gander, especially if you are planning a retreat for 2015!

Posted in: News & Information, Resources, Starting Points in Retreat Planning, Theme Ideas, Website News

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Wisdom in Scheduling Your Retreat

We learned the hard way that before booking your speaker for your retreat on a certain date, you should have done at least some preliminary checking for availability.  If there is a big event in your city, it could be that hotels are already booked or expecting to be booked to capacity, even when you are planning ahead.  Don’t assume that since you are planning nine months ahead of time that you are ahead of the game.  Others plan ahead too.  And as always, prices are higher when the demand is higher!

Consider our experience. m1Z11Svv2mdbcYsDUJmVwdQ

It is not that hard to find a block of hotel rooms to book for our retreat.  But Dallas has a few big events that max out our hotel capacity.  And even if the hotels aren’t completely booked, the roads can be a mess in certain directions due to the event.  One of those event is Dallas is the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament.  While we no longer have spring women’s retreats, if we did, we would be sure to work around that busy weekend.


Posted in: Lessons Learned, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning, Starting Points in Retreat Planning

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Women’s Ministry Toolbox

I am taking a “blogging break” as my husband and I travel to China to visit family.  I would like to introduce you to my friend, Cyndee Ownbey.  She is the creator of my hands-down favorite online resource for women’s ministry:  If you haven’t visited this site, you need to!  I have asked her to share below about her website, and next week she will be my guest blogger.

wmtoolbox logoWomen’s Ministry is hard.

It’s challenging. It’s often unpaid. It can be a struggle to find good resources and support.

I created Women’s Ministry Toolbox as a place where you can find resources and support that will help you and your team as you strive to fulfill God’s calling in ministering to the women in your church and community.

In addition to sharing wisdom and ideas I’ve gathered and gleaned during 15 years of ministering to women, I invite other leaders share their ideas through guest posts. There is so much we can learn from each other!

You’ll find information on:

  • Prayer
  • Bible Study
  • Team Building
  • Fellowship
  • Utilizing Technology
  • Online Resources
  • Shopping
  • Speakers
  • Budgeting
  • Icebreakers & Games
  • Leadership
  • Mission Projects
  • Publicity
  • and more….

I’d love to invite you over to Women’s Ministry Toolbox for a visit. I hope and pray God will use it to help you as you serve. (There’s even a spot where you can subscribe to get each post in your email box, so you won’t miss a tip or idea!)  I so appreciate Debby giving me the opportunity to share my calling and extend an invitation to you, her treasured readers!  It has been a great joy and pleasure to “meet” you!


profile pic Cyndee Ownbey Cyndee Ownbey blogs over at Women’s Ministry Toolbox and is passionate about helping other women’s ministry leaders reach and encourage women in their church and community. She and her husband, two sons (12 and 15), and miniature schnauzer, Heidi, recently relocated to the Charlotte, NC area. When she’s not gathering and gleaning great ministry ideas you can find her trying out new recipes or immersed in her latest Christian fiction pick.

Posted in: News & Information, Resources, Retreat and Event Planning, Starting Points in Retreat Planning

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Publicity – With a Face

publicity-72soul-stockfreshIt is an issue we all face:  How do we publicize our events?  How do we get the word out?

Often, publicity for our women’s events is fairly impersonal.  We use print media–announcements in the bulletin, posters around the church and in the women’s bathroom. Possibly you have used a radio ad to publicize a big event.  Plus, now there is social media: events can be posted on the church website, posted on FaceBook, and probably even tweeted if you know how to do that.

However, I think the most effective form of publicity has a personal touch:  a personal invite, a hand-written card, an announcement made by one of the women during a church service, class or event–where a face can be associated with the event.  And what if we decorated a table with all the pertinent information available, PLUS a person at the table to answer questions and personally invite women who walk by?

Posted in: Lessons Learned, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning, Starting Points in Retreat Planning

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