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Planning a Women's Ministries Retreat
Updated: Jun 27, 2016

The purpose of a women’s ministries retreat is to provide spiritual enrichment, fellowship, support, and relaxation. Types of retreats may include your local church or several area churches, a specific group, your conference, or your union. You might also hold a leadership retreat, a retreat for mothers and daughters, or for young women.
Venues can range from youth camps, resorts, a conference camp site, hotels, recreational facilities, boarding schools during school holidays, or large homes. As it is a women’s ministries event, only women are invited—women of all ages and from all walks of life. Speakers, musicians, and coordinators should also be women.
Your committee may choose a theme for the retreat or ask the guest speaker to do so. Decorations and trimmings should be chosen to illustrate this theme. Decorations should be attractive and have particular appeal to women. A theme song, music, introductions and conclusions should all follow the theme.
A retreat is generally held over a weekend from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime, or an equivalent period convenient to the women who attend. Each session needs to begin and end on time. A timekeeper should be appointed to make sure this happens. Young adults often prefer a one-day event.
Food should be prepared and served by someone other than the women attending the retreat if possible. That way it is truly a retreat for those attending. A group could be hired to cater or the husbands of some of the women may be willing to do this work.
Obviously, a retreat costs money. A budget should be carefully planned and each woman charged a percentage of the total cost. If you are able to get money from your conference or union, be clear on how it will be spent and accounted for. Conference or union monies can be used to help those who would really like to attend but who cannot afford to. The committee should explore other means of keeping the costs down for each woman or helping those in need. Costs should be kept as low as possible while still making a retreat that women will really enjoy attending.
The guest speaker should be invited to speak on a topic of interest specifically to women. She should be given the retreat theme ahead of time (if she does not choose it herself), and she should prepare her presentations accordingly. It is helpful if your guest speaker can arrive a day before the beginning of the retreat to meet with the leadership and go over the schedule, as well as spend some time getting acquainted with the program and praying for the success of the retreat. Whatever information is sent to your retreat attendees should also be sent to your speaker, such as what types of clothing to bring, if there will be outdoor activities, etc., so that she will be prepared to participate also.
NAD Women’s Ministries Keynote Speaker Guidelines
There is a need to keep all of our women’s ministries events a positive and uplifting experience for the women who attend. It is also our desire that our programs uphold the beliefs and standards of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. To a great degree this challenge is a responsibility of the keynote speaker.
It is our desire to empower women to become the best they can be. It is also our desire to cultivate speakers who will be a blessing to all who attend our events. Therefore, we are asking that speakers agree to the following:
  • All speaker’s reimbursements, fees, and expenses will be discussed and decided upon prior to the event.
  • Hotel and meal arrangements will be made by the sponsoring organization.
  • Transportation to and from airports will be arranged and provided by the sponsoring organization.
  • Criticism of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its leaders will not be a part of the presentation.
  • In all presentations, the sanctity of marriage and family will be upheld and encouraged.
  • The love of Christ and His caring ministry will be reflected in all presentations.
  • Audience sensitivity to the convictions and beliefs of the conference you are serving will be respected.
  • Show respect and professionalism in your delivery and appearance.
  • Adhere to time restraints given by the director and/or coordinator.
  • Adhere to the theme agreed upon.
Voted April 30, 2000 by the North American Division Women’s Ministry Advisory Committee
Sample Program
Below is a sample program schedule. This may be adapted to meet your needs and goals. When planning a schedule, allow some time for relaxation and time for the women to be able to talk with each other without having to skip meetings.
4:30 p.m. Registration
6:30 Tea/Supper
7:00 Music/Welcome
7:30 Guest Speaker
8:30 Prayer groups are formed
7:00 a.m. Early morning walk (optional)
8:00 Worship
8:30 Breakfast
9:30 Music
10:00 Guest Speaker
10:45 Break
11:00 Music
11:15 Guest Speaker
12:00 Testimony and Thanksgiving
12:30 Lunch
3:00 Prayer walk or promise hunt
4:30 Workshops
6:00 Tea/Supper
7:00 Social program, concert, etc.
8:00 a.m. Worship
8:30 Breakfast
9:30 Music
10:00 Guest Speaker
11:00 Workshops
A prayer breakfast is a nice feature for Sunday morning; the guest speaker may be the speaker for this too. Following are two options for Sunday morning.
Example 1
8:00 a.m. Worship
8:30 Pack and clean rooms
9:00 Prayer breakfast/guest speaker
10:45 Workshops
12:15 Closing
Example 2
8:00 a.m. Worship
8:30 Pack and clean rooms
9:00 Prayer breakfast/guest speaker
11:00 Closing
11:45 Leave for home
Here are some suggestions for activities during your retreat. Use them to give the women time to learn, network, and fellowship.
Prayer Groups
Women can be grouped into prayer groups according to their birth dates, favorite colors, etc. and given a certain amount of time to pray together. The groups may be directed to when and where to meet for prayer or they may decide for themselves.
Sharing personal life experience allows women to gain strength and spiritual encouragement from listening to the testimonies of other women. Testimonies can include answers to prayer, inspiration from a book or magazine article, divine help in solving a problem, praise and thanksgiving for blessings, etc. Care should be taken that testimony time does not lead to inappropriate disclosures or negative comments or criticism of others. It is also wise to provide time restraints.
These should be sessions offering practical help for issues faced by women in any aspect of life. These workshops should be presented in an interactive style rather than a lecture. There should be one workshop planned for about every 25 women in attendance, giving the women a choice of the workshops they will attend. Sunday’s workshops can be a repeat of Sabbath afternoon’s workshops, giving the women an opportunity to attend one she was unable to attend on Sabbath. There should be a minimum of about four workshops from which to choose.
An alternative Saturday night activity could be an agape feast where a communion is blended with a special candlelight dinner. The menu should be simple (fruit and breads, nuts, etc.), but the setting should be particularly appealing. Testimonies may follow, citing victories and offering praise and thanksgiving to God.
Favors and Gifts
If you plan to have treats or keepsakes for the attendees, these need to be planned and assigned. You might place them in their rooms prior to arrival or give them out at a meal. From year to year, different groups or individuals may take on the assignment of making and distributing items for the women in attendance.
Event Planning
The following are positions and responsibilities of those involved in planning an event. Some may not apply and you may need to add to your list based on your needs.
SPEAKER: You will want to make sure the speaker meets the aforementioned list of qualities and has been approved by your leadership. Take note of their contact information.
PROGRAM COORDINATORS: You will probably want at least two women overseeing the program—making sure that participants show up on time, keeping to the set schedule, troubleshooting, etc.
MUSIC: You will want to ask someone to oversee the music program in its entirety. Additionally, you may have a song director, pianist, vocalist, etc. Make sure to have their contact information.
GREETERS: Ask someone to oversee that greeters are scheduled and know what to do. You will want to have as many greeters as makes sense for your location and number attending.
USHERS: You may or may not require ushers depending on the size of your event. For large crowds, it is suggested to have ushers so as not to create chaos or distractions.
REGISTRATION: This may require a small team of women. Their responsibilities would include making name tags, creating a master list of attendees, and creating/disseminating registration policies.
ADVERTISING: Ask someone to oversee all of the advertising for the event and let her delegate responsibilities as needed. Advertising may include a brochure, poster, an advertisement in the local paper or union paper, the conference newsletter, the church newsletter, and social media.
PRINTING: Appoint a chairperson to oversee printing inserts for the church bulletins, folders for the participants, meal tickets for attendees, handouts, etc.
CHILD CARE: If offering child care, you will want to ask someone with experience to oversee it and put together a team of helpers. 
ACCOMMODATIONS: Assign someone to manage attendees’ and program participants’ lodging.
ROOM SETUP: You may want to assign a setup crew and a clean-up crew. These groups would be responsible for making sure the room is comfortable, that there are enough seats, cleaning up trash at close of meetings, etc.
DECORATING: This will require a chairperson and assistants. They will decide on decorations based on the event’s theme and oversee the decoration of assembly rooms, meal rooms, etc. They will also purchase whatever is needed: flowers, signs, etc.
AUDIO VISUAL: Depending on the size and scope of your event, you may need someone with expertise in this area. If the required equipment is simple, you may be able to use someone from your local church/conference. For more complex needs, i.e. staging, video, sound, etc., you may want to hire professionals. Some venues will offer this service.
FOOD SERVICES: This is a large responsibility that will require a team. Menus for each meal should be prepared well in advance, meals should be served on time, and it is crucial to plan more meals than what is expected.