Ladies Retreat Planning: Event Books

Parts of a Ladies Retreat

Julia Bettencourt

Orignially Posted November 2, 2001

Reposted April 20, 2016

This material was originally part of my Successful Event Planning Information. This page is all about how to fill your schedule for a ladies retreat. I have revised the information from the original.

Retreats can be wonderful things for your ladies in your women's group, but they do take a lot of planning. You want to prayerfully consider each part that you put into your retreat. Below are some ideas of what type of things you can fill your retreat schedule with.

  • Registration Time
    This is a time to put at the beginning of your schedule. It allows the ladies to check in, receive name badges and any literature.

    If you have book or merchandise tables it gives the ladies time to browse. Providing this time also gives the ladies a chance to chat beforehand and enables everyone to be in their place when the actual event starts.

  • Opening Sessions
    This is a time for everyone to assemble together in one place. It is the kick-off of your event so make sure it is well thought out. Keep it exciting because this is where the ladies attending will form their opinion of what the rest of the event will be like. During the opening session introduce your theme and teach your theme chorus if you have one.

    It is a good time to recognize your pastor's wife, guest speakers, and groups from visiting churches. To help break the ice, you may want to take a moment so everyone can greet the person next to them with a friendly hello. Give any announcements and directions that may be necessary.

    There is a list of Meeting Greeters for Retreats on the website.

  • Main Sessions
    Include an opening and closing prayer during these sessions. Make music part of the session by singing choruses and songs and providing special music. If you don’t want to schedule in any specific music, have a cd playing while your ladies are gathering. It will help with the atmosphere while everyone gets settled in their seats.

    If you include an offering make sure the ladies know what it is being taken up for--to cover expenses, love gift, etc. You can make these sessions as long or as short as necessary depending upon the number of speakers and how much music you want to insert into your program.

    Give your speakers adequate time to speak. In other words don't bring in a speaker from hundreds of miles and only give them fifteen minutes of time.

    Main speakers should be given at least 45 minutes to one hour of speaking time. If they are speaking more than once it is appropriate to give them other sessions with lesser speaking times but allow them to be used to the fullest in your main sessions.

    Make sure that all speakers are aware of their speaking length time when booking them. Work with your music leader in working out the program for your main sessions.

  • Workshops
    This type of session works well in 30 minute or one hour increments. A workshop doesn't always have to go with your theme or even be a "spiritual" topic. Anything that will bless, inspire, improve, or interest your ladies can be good topic choice.

    You may have some workshop speakers in mind that already have their topic specialties. Check within your church. Is there someone you know who is talented, skillful or knowledgeable about a topic?

    This is one of those places where you can delegate and have someone in charge of the workshops but choose someone who is competent enough to pull it off. Make sure they are biblically sound and in agreement with your pastor and church leaders on major topics or you could run into some trouble here as to what is appropriate and what is not.

    There is a Workshop Topic list available here

  • Breakout Sessions
    These are sessions where your ladies can be broken into smaller and more intimate groups. Typical ones can last from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. They can be crafting sessions, prayer sessions, or ice-breaker sessions. They may also be used as a time of short lessons to go with the theme.

    Breakout sessions are slightly like workshops but we usually think of workshops as being more of an intensive learning process with bookwork or lesson handouts. Breakout sessions typically encourage more participation and hands-on involvement.

    As with anything else, it may depend on where you live as to how the term workshop and breakout sessions are used in regard to retreats.

    There is a list of Workshop Topics on the website.

  • Activities
    Activities are a great way to break up the monotony. You can have a time block for several small activities put together or just have one larger activity at a time. If you schedule activities into your program, just remember that if you leave your facilities you have to consider the time of travel to and from. Consider also what form of transportation you will be using.

    If you are in a larger church you may have the buses and vans required to go as a group. Smaller churches may have to have their ladies drive and provide their own transportation. Don't hesitate to appoint someone to be over the activities. Delegate!

    If you are having any away from the facilities activities, make sure the ladies that opt not to go have an activity planned for them or a place to relax. You may want to work with whomever is setting up and make a place designated for those ladies to congregate while the others are away.

    You could set up card tables and chairs with board games. A few comfortable chairs with books and magazines might be a nice touch. You could even set up a video for them to watch.

    There are always going to be some ladies that don't want to go on shopping trips, etc. because they just don't want to or because of health reasons.

    There is a section for Activity Ideas on the website.

  • Meals and Refreshments
    Put any meal or refreshment time you plan to have on your schedule. Make sure enough time is allowed for large meals. Don't rush the ladies through. Let them enjoy their meal.

    There are a variety of food bars and other food related ideas on the Food Fellowships Page on the website.

  • Assembling for Meals
    Figuring in this little bit of extra time will help you to stay on schedule and begin eating at a specified time. This provides time for all of the ladies attending to get to the eating location and assemble themselves into food lines or to be seated.

  • Breaks
    Breaks are a great addition to your schedule. Aside from the practical fact that women do need a bathroom break, it also gives them the opportunity to fellowship with their sisters in Christ. After all, isn't that one of the reasons you are holding your event?

    Let the ladies get to know each other. Don't rush your ladies from one session to the next without them having the opportunity to stop for a minute and breathe.

    Allow the ladies time to get from one location to the next between sessions. Larger groups with larger facilities will need more time between sessions.

  • Door Prize Time
    You may decide to give out door prizes at a variety of times throughout your event or perhaps during a meal so you may need to actually schedule time for it. If you are planning on doing it during a session such as your Closing Session, be sure to add in the extra time for it, if even it is only a few minutes. You want to keep everything on track, even small things such as door prizes.

    There is a list of Door Prize Ideas on the website.

  • Closing Sessions
    This can be a long session with music and speakers or can only last for a few minutes. It is a time for everyone to assemble one last time. Make sure you recognize your event leaders and workers during this session.

    A praise and testimony time during your closing session is a great way to end your event on a positive note. If you have a large group, ask a few ladies in advance to give a short testimony about attending the event. Smaller churches may want to open it up to several spontaneous testimonies.

    Open and close the session with prayer.

Sum Up

It will depend on a lot of variables for what you ultimately choose to put on the agenda for your ladies retreat. Cater your activities and sessions to what you think your ladies would enjoy and what they need spiritually.

Pray over it and think it through before setting anything in stone.

Copyright ©2001-2016 Julia Bettencourt

Permission given to print this material for personal and local church use with copyright information and website url intact.  No reprinting of this material online in any way.  Please share the page url instead.  See the Terms of Use for more information.

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