When I first took the baton of leading a thriving and growing women’s ministry from my predecessor who was moving away, I was surprised by the women’s expectations to offer a fall retreat every year.
Sure, we lived in the Colorado Rockies with a lot of retreat options at cozy, rustic venues with stunning views of the mountains. But for years our retreats had only drawn 250 to 300 women in a church with 5,000 regular attenders.
That’s when our leadership team decided to survey the women of the church and found that they preferred one-day events with lower costs and just as much discipleship impact. So, instead of throwing out women’s getaway retreats altogether, we decided to provide retreats every two to three years and other options on the off years.
We discovered 3 great alternatives for the non-getaway retreat years:
One Speaker, Two Events
One year we invited best-selling author Angela Thomas Pharr to reach two different age groups of women. On Friday night she spoke to teen girls and their moms. Her theme was based on her book Do You Think I’m Beautiful?, and hundreds of teens and moms enjoyed an evening together full of worship and a message that resonated with the hearts of women of all ages.
The next morning we offered an outreach event where women were encouraged to invite their seeking friends to a brunch where Angela shared more of her personal story with an invitation to follow Jesus.
Another creative option is a one-day conference that reaches more women than a weekend retreat, and at a lower cost to your budget. Today, women are so busy and the bandwidth to get away for an entire weekend is often rare. We found that millennials and young moms especially were much more open to just one day away. One of the most powerful events we ever offered was a one-day retreat with author Stasi Eldredge, reaching 800 women instead of our typical 300 at a weekend retreat.
Often leadership teams are taken for granted and give more than they receive when serving in women’s ministries. A great alternative to a church-wide retreat is to offer a retreat for just your leadership team. This can be a time to worship and pray together, love on your team and share the vision for the next ministry year.
Both the impact and reach of our women’s ministry was multiplied just by talking to the women in our church and being open to new ideas.