Our guest blogger today is Brenda Eaton, who serves at Waxahachie Bible Church as the Women’s Ministry Director. I asked Brenda to share how she uses a leadership retreat to bond her group and build her team, as well as prepare for the future. Her practical suggestions on organizing and preparing are priceless!
A leadership retreat has the potential of bonding your team leaders, building community, and planning ahead for the upcoming year.
I have had a 1 -2 night retreat for the past 10 years. I find free places for my leaders to get away. There is usually a friend or someone in the church or community who will offer their lake house or cabin for your use. Just ask! This makes it very affordable for your ministry budget and for your leaders to attend. We buy groceries out of budget money and then we work together, play together, pray and plan together.
Once I know who can come I send out a list of things they can sign up to do or to prepare for the retreat. Things as practical as planning a certain meal, buying groceries, driving a car, or bringing a dessert or snack. Then there are ministry needs such as planning an ice breaker, worship music and slides, quiet time devotionals, team building activities, communion, a testimony or a favorite Bible verse, or preparing Scripture readings on certain topics. I can’t do everything so I delegate, and then we experience how God wonderfully puts it all together.
I usually plan a retreat theme and ask them to prepare material that fits with the theme. This year’s theme was Faith….Fellowship….Foresight. Last year our theme was A Heart to Lead . . . A Heart to Serve. It can be as simple as Teamwork. I also found this acrostic somewhere for TEAM….Together Everyone Achieves More.
The leaders come knowing they will be working to cook and clean up, but also to meet in breakout groups to brainstorm for the next year’s events, outreach, and Bible studies. I prepare a folder with the daily schedule, with assignments of who will cook together and who will clean up together—always mixing different women so they will get to know each other better.
In the folder there is a page for each break out group with a list of questions for them to discuss and brainstorm for a particular event or ministry. The folder includes a church calendar of activities, the current school district academic calendar, and holidays. So they can compare the calendars to plan dates and then come up with ideas for speakers, programs, volunteers, decorations, food, etc.
After a time of break out, we come back together and report to the whole group, open for suggestions or questions. We always get a lot accomplished in this time together. God is good.
Just remember the old adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So in planning your leadership retreat, include some free time and fun time. Bring some fun games, or just give them time to relax and visit and laugh together, go for a walk or jump in the lake!
What has been sweet throughout these years is the time of worship together through music, prayer, testimonies, and communion. This year I used 3 videos that are available on this Beyond Ordinary Women website, designed to supplement and complement Bible study lessons. I picked three that had to do with perfectionism vs unique gifting, sacrifice and acting in faith, and caring for others. In three separate worship sessions, we viewed a short video, looked at scripture references that went along with the topic, and discussed God’s view for each of them. The videos provided a great platform leading to a discussion as it related to leadership or ourselves individually.
We use our retreat time wisely to plan ahead for ministry, but we really need transparency and trust between leaders, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and He guides our team in our planning. And then in the months beyond this, we see His faithfulness to provide for all that we need.
Brenda has offered to share a sample schedule of her recent retreat or the brainstorming pages. Let us know and we will connect you with her.
Thank you, Brenda, for sharing so many great ideas with women who are leading other leaders.
If you are leading a group of leaders, read BOW’s recent posts by Kari Stainback on building a team or by a panel of experts on connecting a church’s small group Bible study leaders.