Touching Women’s Hearts
By Helen Goody
Organize A Women’s Retreat That Speaks Directly To The Heart Of Women
There’s something about a retreat, conference, or getaway that speaks directly to the hearts of women, strengthens close friendships, and rejuvenates relationships with Jesus. But if you’ve never organized a women’s retreat before, the task can be daunting. How do you make sure that your event is effective and energizing? It seems that just about every church or women’s group has an annual retreat where women gather for a few meals and listen to a speaker. It’s a standard formula that’s worked for a long time-so why change it?
– Women Want Relational Time. “We decided to ask ladies what they really want to do (and not do) at retreats,” says Amy Nappa, women’s ministry resource editor at Group Publishing and developer of the HeartSpa women’s ministry retreat kit. “Over and over we heard the same comments. Women want to talk, laugh, and interact with one another. They’re interested in relationships with others and with Jesus, not in sitting and listening for hours on end.” It’s important to create an environment where women get to share, dig into the Bible, and actually experience refreshment instead of just hearing about it.
– Speakers Are Expensive Or Ineffective. “Women told us that speakers are hard to find, can be expensive, and aren’t always as interesting as they’d hoped,” says Nappa. Instead, participants or other women from the church can, and should, lead the sessions. It gives you more money to pamper your women with high-quality lotions and spa treatments and delight them with small gifts.
– Not Enough Pampering. Don’t just talk about relationships, relaxing, and refreshment-do these things! Stock up on supplies for paraffin treatments, pedicures and manicures, facials, and makeovers. And make sure you invite all your women at your church for this relaxing down time. Nappa says, “We were delighted to see how quickly women of all ages joined in the HeartSpa experiences.”
– Biblical Study Is Often Not Personal. So many times at retreats, the speaker is the focal point for Bible lessons, and women don’t study Scripture personally, deeply. Nappa says the way to make your retreat different from any other retreat is to make sure women experience every lesson, every point, every Scripture. Put them in the midst of the action, and they love it!
– Women Need More Small-Group Friendship-Building Time. It’s important to keep women in small groups and encourage them to experience the entire event together as a group. Make one person the team leader whose responsibility is to make sure that each group member shares in discussion.
– “Purposefully placing women in these groups will help them form new friendships,” says Nappa. “They’ll still get to see people they already know at meals, during free time, and at other activities. But putting people with those they don’t know as well helps them open up to new friends.”
– Not Enough Worship Time. Don’t neglect the opportunity to gather women together for a time of powerful worship! It’s important to use music often and carefully select songs that touch the heart. Use a mix of brand-new songs, newer praise songs, and well-known hymns for the perfect blend for all ages and tastes. Worship leadership plays a key role in helping women focus their hearts on Jesus. “We’re always surprised how all participants, young and old, are energized by the music,” says Nappa. “Everyone has a great time clapping and moving.”
– Personal Reflection Is Neglected. Often women on retreats are left to do their own reflection, and may not. “We found that giving women journals with discussion questions, Bible readings, and devotions encourages them to write responses and take time to think about their transformations that happen during the retreat,” says Nappa. “Plus they love taking home a memento of the event that can be used for months to come.”
The key to a successful women’s retreat is making sure there’s plenty of rest and refreshment integrated with meaningful, personal Bible lessons. Women today lead busy lives, and it’s important to create an event that makes them feel special and gives them a personal time with Jesus. A good women’s retreat helps build friendships that women will retain when they return to their daily routines. And those strong friendships are what supports their faith and strengthens their connection with Christ.
Article “Touching Women’s Hearts” written by Helen Goody is taken from www.group.com/women the 2007 May/June edition.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”