Holy in the Daily

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How to Plan a Weekend Retreat, Reunion, or Event That Rocks

You’re having an anxiety attack trying to organize a weekend getaway with your old high school girl friends.

Your sisters dumped this year’s family reunion in your lap, and you haven’t a clue where to begin.

You’d like to kill the pastor who put you in charge of the women’s weekend retreat, but you know that wouldn’t go over well with the Lord.

Yet, it’s at retreats and reunions that we often tell our Jesus stories, share our fears, and deposit a bit of our legacy in the hearts of others.

So let’s take a look at how you can survive + totally ROCK at organizing your event.

It’s far simpler to plan than you think. Really.

Who’s doing all the work…

…you or a team?

If you put together a team, designate who would be in charge of different arenas, such as:

  • finding and securing a place
  • any finances involved
  • meals
  • invites, publicity, or registration
  • activities
  • entertainment
  • worship (if included)
  • special speakers (if included)

Set a date and nail down a place

Avoid dates that you know are already spoken for, like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Valentines Day, early June (weddings and graduations), or anytime the kids are out of school and mom would have to be on duty.

Weekends work great as women are usually off of work and can find childcare.

You can rent a retreat center, camp venue, a vacation home, hotel accommodations, or use a private home.

(We’ve even held a women’s retreat at a church where everyone brought air mattresses and sleeping bags.)

Clearly state your purpose or theme for your weekend retreat

State your theme in one simple sentence or fragment of a sentence.

Everything you plan should reinforce this purpose.

Outline a schedule

What will be the schedule for each day concerning meals, meetings, and recreation time?

Is this the kind of gathering where you want to have workshops or special speakers? If so, where would that fit into the schedule?

Are you going to have entertainment or worship? If so, when will those things happen?

Planning little “surprises” (gifts or special presentations)? If so, how will you squeeze them in?

IMPORTANT TIP: Don’t overwhelm your retreat schedule with good stuff.

People, especially women, need breathing room where they can talk, process, giggle, pray, cry, and hang out.

That’s one of the main reasons people attend a weekend retreat or reunions. It’s a time set aside from responsibilities, work and kids.

Honor that time as sacred.

Plan your workshops or special speakers

Including workshops or a special speaker involves preparation time, so you’ll want to decide on this early enough to find and confirm who will be sharing at your retreat.

What will they need you to give them—travel expenses, directions to your retreat location, a private bedroom/bathroom, a meeting room, a copy machine, microphone, keynote or PowerPoint capabilities, and an honorarium?

Nail all these things down early in your planning.

Send out invitations several months before the event

Be sure to include the dates, location, starting time and ending time, parking information, what to bring, money for meals (if not included in the registration), a contact person, guest speakers (if you’re having any), registration information and cost—and where to send it.

Include the theme of the event and 5 things they can look forward to taking away from your time together.

For example: friendships renewed, a deeper experience with Jesus, or new stories to use for family blackmail.

Guard against stress and offense

No matter how well you plan, the enemy will always seek to divide and conquer a retreat through stress and offense.

  • Don’t go there. Refuse to play his game.
  • Avoid making wrong assumptions or embracing offense.
  • Wrap yourself and others in grace and refuse to see obstacles as negative things.
  • View frustration as an opportunity to grow and stretch your grace muscles.

Add some extra self-care into your days and have your team do the same.

Have FUN!

You’re connecting with Jesus and other people who are important to you. What could be better! Treasure the moments.

Sandwich your retreat with prayer

Pray from the moment you get that twinkle in your heart about hosting a gathering until the last person leaves for home.

And then pray some more.

BTW, if you’re planning a weekend retreat, you might want to give The Real Woman’s Must-Have Packing List for a Christian Women’s Retreat out with your invitations. 🙂

What’s the best women’s event you’ve ever attended? Why was it the best?

Now, go love, laugh, and pray with your girl friends,

Love, Susan

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