As I put retreat flyers in our church mailboxes Saturday, I thought about our motives for inviting so many women. It’s not about the numbers, really. It’s about including each and every one into our circle of friends. That seems like a high aspiration, but it’s not all up to the leaders at that point. When we can facilitate opportunities for relationships to happen, we are stepping up the possibility for one more woman to know she is a valued member of the human race.
That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? To connect people to each other and to the God who created them to be in relationship?
Over the eleven years of planning our spring women’s retreat, we’ve seen the group range from 48 to 77 in attendance, but the quantity is still not our main focus! We always ask, “What can we do to create an atmosphere where women will connect?”
The response may take on a different shape each year, but here are five key factors.
1) Create Fun! Make your trip one where giggles can abound. Where there’s laughter, healing will follow, and relationships will happen naturally. We have ice breakers, skits, and generally role out the carpet for humor.
2) Create Intimacy! The opportunity to share life’s burdens with another lightens the load. One-on-one conversations and group discussions will assist the progress of new insights. Interaction can take place at meal time or around the campfire or even while carpooling home.
3) Create Release! Getting away from the daily routine of life is essential in order to let go of stress. Provide walks outdoors for fresh air or indoor games for group interaction. Have you seen grown women do cannonballs in the pool?!
4) Create Inspiration! Give food for thought to get creative juices flowing, and to facilitate the opportunity for each to reconnect with the Lord. Special words from speakers or quiet time with a Bible will enable the mind to cultivate renewal.
5) Create Security! Remember the Cheers theme song? “People are all the same; You want to go where everybody knows your name.” We all need a safe haven where we can feel like family, and that requires intentional effort and time to nurture.
When you focus on the individuals who come, they will bring their friends and build numbers later on. But it all begins with creating an occasion for women to remember that they are cherished and loved, one person at a time.
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For more tips on Retreat Planning, see my ebook, How to Plan a Women’s Retreat!