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So, it's time to plan:

Here are some of the things to consider as you begin the journey of planning a retreat:

Begin your planning by asking yourself the question why. Why do I want to have a retreat? What do you most want to accomplish (your goal) with this retreat? Is yours a new church plant? Do you want to establish new relationships? Has your church encountered recent division? Do you want to mend fences? Are you wanting to build bridges between the different age groups in your church? Has your church undergone recent trauma? (A tornado, a flood, devastating fire) If you know what you want to accomplish with your time away, you'll have a much easier time planning the elements of your retreat.

How much?
While it's unfortunate, the truth is that the price of a retreat may determine who can attend. If you start at the beginning with an "ideal" price point, you may find that your other decisions are easier to make. How much is too much for a weekend away? Only you can determine that, based on the economy of your situation. But don't do all your planning only to discover that your "perfect retreat" is one no one will be able to attend. Pick your idea price, decide how many might realistically attend, and use that as your starting point.

What should you choose? A cabin in the woods? An expensive retreat center? How will your choice affect who might be able to come? Will it limit your attendence, either by finances or by comfort level? Here are a few of the creative places that I've been invited to speak:

One group rented several large houses at a recreational destination. By cooking together, they kept the cost of a luxury location under control.

Another group (smaller) rented a single large house at the beach. Price depended on what accomodations were desired. Some of the younger women occupied sleeping bags in the basement.

Of course, I've attended various conference centers. These provide the most options for food, housing and recreation. They range from full-service options, to lower cost locations which allow you to bring your own food, snacks and refreshments.

I've spoken at retreats held in churches. This allowed nursing moms to stay at home with their babies, without missing a single moment of the fun with their friends. In an econmic downturn, it minimized risk for the retreat committee, and gave the best attendence ever for that church.


Not even the most organized person can do a retreat alone. You need a team! And, the more varied your group, the better. Each member will bring the concerns and needs of other like-minded individuals to your attention. The stronger and deeper your core team, the more impact your retreat will have.

Consider these needs: Older women, who can't be far from the bathroom at night. Handicapped women, who need ramps and special bathroom facilities. Nursing mothers, who can't yet leave baby for an entire weekend. Snoring women. Women who need more sleep. Women who don't think they've had a retreat unless they stay up all night. If you don't consider these needs, you will have effectively chosen to have those women stay home.

Divide the duty: The minimum number of positions might be this: Coordinator (Assembles and supports the team members, plans the budget, supervises the meetings and decision making of the group. Keeps everyone on task, answers questions, keeps WM director involved/informed. Perhaps her most important duty is to lead the team in prayer for the event)
. (Finds and arranges the accomodations for the retreat. Also supervises the registration and placement of guests at the retreat facility. May help with payment plans for attendees, registration arrangements, methods, etc).
(Plans and arranges for food/meals, snacks, water, coffee, special foods. Coordinates with conference center on requirements)
Retreat Schedule
(Makes arrangements for speaker, music, special music, and worship. Makes certain their physical needs, microphones, cords, screens, etc are met. Plans, with the help of the committee, the timing of the weekend events)
(Finds ways to let the women know what is happening, how much it costs, where, who will be speaking, etc. May design flyers, work with church bulletin, enews, web design etc)
Recreation (It's great to have someone who has planned your down times. Whether you have group games, hikes, activities, or simply plan quiet reflection into your weekend, it's best to have someone in charge. She will bring the equipment, the supplies, and the plan so that everyone knows what is available, and that everyone is included)
Budget (While it isn't absolutely necessary, it is helpful to have one person tracking all of the expenses and receipts for your event. Your church secretary, or business administrator will appreciate having fewer people to contact and work with)

"To Do" and "Bring Along" lists:
Sometimes the simplest things are overlooked. As you plan, have each team member continually keep a "to-do" and "bring along" list going for every responsibility. Keep the list current. Keep them going right up to the moment your retreat begins. Have the lists out at every meeting, and encourage one another to write frequently.

Some Ideas to Consider:
Consider using deposit discounts as a way of committing attendees.
Last minute letter with details to attendees
Suggested "Packing list." What will I need at this retreat? Bedding? etc
Hospitality Baskets.
Name tags, table decorations, room decorations
Welcome packets (schedule, information, opportunities, etc)
Would your pastor come for a small portion of the retreat?
Prayer support available during the weekend?
Prayer team to pray BEFORE the weekend?
Avoid over-planning the weekend. Allow for organic conversation.
Consider break-out sessions.
Consider using your first night as an ice-breaker.
Consider ways of mixing up the various generations attending.
Consider transportation/carpooling
Consider ways to help your speaker get added rest during the retreat.
Consider whether "outsiders" or friends of members will/might attend.
Consider a location near a "discount mall." It works!



Gracious Words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul . . .healing to the bones.(Prov. 16)