I originally wrote this post in early 2011, not much re-mix needed here….
women people still need the same things to stay engaged. In the past couple of years, lots of churches have gone to using DVD materials to lead retreats…this is not necessarily a bad thing (well maybe for me it is- I do feel that pinch!) but we still need to build in time to move, to fellowship and to be alone with God…and no, the five minutes the DVD gives you to write your answers in the $10 workbook you bought from Lifeway does not work on any of those counts. Remember, just cause you are using a boxed curriculum, doesn’t mean that you are suddenly off the hook when it comes to making sure that your attendees have gotten the message. *ahem* Stepping down from the soap box now :)…here’s the post:
As a speaker, I am often called on for advice in planning women’s events. I hear over and over again how different and fun Strings Attached events are, but what makes them so different? I think that there are a several key ingredients to an incredible women’s event. Keep these in mind while you are planning and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
An incredible women’s event is centered on building relationships (with God and with others). I know, I know, relationships are kind of a big deal here at Strings Attached, but this because all women are relational. They want to interact with each other. Many women’s conferences try to shove so many special features into the day that they don’t leave time for forging connections. As a team-building coach, this is my forte – bringing games and exercises that invite connection and sharing of story. Plan times for connection, for mingling, for fun. Laughter is a great unifier.
People should never be talked AT for more than 45 minutes. This is a difficult one, especially if you are using an inexperienced speaker or a DVD program. I always think back to my school days. When sitting in a class, no matter how interesting I found the subject material, my ability to concentrate and assimilate would wane at about the 40 minute mark. This is true for the women who are attending your event as well. Incorporate experiential games and mixers to help the message stick, object lessons to bring real world metaphors to life, and time to reflect and absorb the information. Get the women up and moving, get them talking, help them form bonds and connections.
Remember, that the speaker’s story or curriculum needs to be applicable. This gets left out most often when using lay speakers or women who haven’t yet learned to craft their talks. (Sheila Wray Gregoire provides some great instruction on honing your message on her website Becoming a Christian Women’s Speaker.) Every presentation should have a way to apply it to everyday life. There needs to always be a “Why” and a “How”. Choose a retreat and speaker that challenges women to grow personally and wear the message home.
All women do not learn the same way. Incorporate activities that provide a variety of learning methods. In Strings Attached Retreats, you always find auditory (music/speaking), visual (object lessons and games), and kinesthetic (games that require movement and touch). It’s not difficult to build these into your event, but it does take some thought and practice to get the timing right. Many games and exercises cover all of the learning modalities. We will be posting more about how to build this into your event in the coming weeks.
Reflection, reflection, reflection. In our harried world, in our frantic lives, we very rarely give ourselves time for reflection. These women who have chosen to share their most valued resource—their time—with you, need time to reflect and connect with God. I attended Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating retreat in Colorado last year (if you haven’t been or haven’t read the book by the same title- you should!). Many things touched me—the speaker, the worship time, the food :), but the most profound moments came during what they called “Covenants of Silence.” It was during these times of reflection that the message of the weekend, the message God had brought me there to hear really soaked in. So many times during a women’s conference, we get so excited that we cram full our day or our event with programming. Leave some time and space for quiet reflection.
So there you go, “Cari’s Special Recipe” for a fantastic women’s event. I am booking dates for the spring and fall of 2013 now if you would like Strings Attached Ministries to come to your group. We have packages available for any budget. We’d love to be a part of making your event spectacular. You can contact us here.
However, if you are a do-it-yourself-er, I will posting more tips on how to create this on your own. Until then, if you have questions feel free to put them in the comments or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Laura Keck. All photos were taken at Hayward Wesleyan Church during "Vital Pieces: You are Signifcant to God's Plan." If you would like to order a copy of this presentation on CD, click here.