Below you’ll find the show notes for episode 62, Anchored Women’s Ministry Conference Recap and Lessons Learned, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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Anchored Women’s Ministry Leader Conference Recap and Lessons Learned
Today’s a very special blog post. I’m sharing a recap of the Anchored Women’s Ministry Leader Conference that I hosted on March 3-4, 2023 in Concord, North Carolina at my home church.
I hope you’ll gather and glean some ideas that you may be able to use or tweak for your next big event or retreat.
I’ll wrap up this post by sharing a few things I’d definitely do again and a few things I’d do differently.
Unlike your church events, the Anchored Conference was tailored to a specific audience – women who are serving in their local church on the women’s ministry team.
The doors opened on Friday night at 6:3O PM. Attendees received a name tag and some fabulous swag bags as they checked in.
The event began at 7 PM and our emcee, Becky Seamon, my women’s ministry director warmly welcomed everyone and we played a quick game of Who here? We focused on common women’s ministry trials we face. For example, “Who here has ever lost sleep over something related to women’s ministry?” (I don’t think anyone sat down for that one!)
Two of the talented women at our church, Jenn and Patricia, led worship throughout the weekend. Jenn played guitar and both sang. One of the leaders remarked on the survey that they loved the simplicity of it – it was beautiful and very worshipful. Words were on the screen and they typically sang 3 songs during each worship session.
I spoke on James 1:1 the first night. Before wrapping up I introduced our workshop leaders for the next day and thanked our sponsors. We invited ladies to stay and fellowship from 9 – 10 PM. We had an amazing dessert buffet with gluten-free options and fruit trays. We also had speaker resource tables open for shopping.
Saturday morning the doors opened at 8:30 AM. We started at 9. Coffee and snacks were available, but breakfast was on your own. Becky gave a quick welcome and we jumped right into worship. I spoke on James 1:2-3 and then we broke for workshops. Leaders had 4 options to choose from and two workshop sessions to attend. We recorded each workshop so no one missed out on any of the content.
That took us to our Brainstorm Boxed Lunch. From Noon – 1 PM, we enjoyed boxed lunches from Chick-Fil-A (4 options at registration – chicken sandwich, 8 ct nugget, and the Market Salad with Grilled Chicken and without chicken). We asked leaders to sit at a table with a topic they wanted to discuss.
After lunch, Becky led us in a 4 Corners game that allowed us to visually see interesting things about our ministries. We picked a corner based on years of serving, groups we struggle to reach, favorite types of events, and so on. It was really interesting! The leaders loved it!
Jenn and Patricia helped bring our focus back by singing two songs and then I took the stage for my final speaking session covering James 1:4-8 and tied it all together. Becky came back up and we did a Question and Answer Session (leaders were able to submit them Friday night and Saturday morning).
After a brief thank you to all involved, Jenn and Patricia closed us out by leading us to sing a final song – Benediction by Matt Redmond.
We were done just before 3 PM – so the cleaning crew could get things ready for Sunday morning.
On Monday morning I sent out a survey to the attendees which was incredibly helpful as I’ve reflected on the event. Some of what I’ll share next is based on their feedback.
Things I’d Do Again
So many things, overall everything went really well – but I want to focus on things that I hope will help you!
I sent out a series of emails; one per week leading up to the event. If you’re going away for a retreat, dripping the important information can be helpful and lessen the information overload. One week let them know what to pack and bring, another week give them ideas on where to go and where to eat during their free time, and so on.
We selected a theme song for the weekend which we sang on Friday and Saturday. It was My Anchor by Christie Nockels.
Printed Materials Tips
The leaders appreciated the pages for notes, bios for worship leaders, workshop leaders, and myself. I included a campus map and put colored dots with a key for the workshop sessions which seemed to aid in moving about the building. Again, all done easily in Canva.
The name tags were also created in Canva. I watched a couple of YouTube videos to learn how to upload the names and lunch options using the bulk create and import data features. It was much easier than I expected!
We offered flavored water packets at lunch. We don’t have the fridge space for sodas and other drinks and I wanted to keep it simple. They were a big hit! I bought a couple of different variety packets including sugar-free and low-sugar options. You’ll find a link to my conference supplies here.
I’m glad we just offered lunch. There are literally 100 restaurants in a one-mile radius of our church. Snacks and a dessert buffet did help round things out and kept attendees from getting hangry. The snack station had water Friday night and a variety of sweet, healthy, and salty options (Skinny Pop popcorn was very popular as were the protein bars) we added coffee and hot water with tea and coffee add-ins on Saturday morning. Mini-water bottles were very popular.
Most women agreed that the length was just right – a few said it could have been longer. As I mentioned, going longer on Saturday wasn’t a possibility.
I kept my keynote sessions to 30 minutes. The first and second sessions were followed by 20 minutes of discussion time at the tables. Two discussion questions were placed on the screen for all to see. Attention spans are shrinking and women want time to discuss what they’ve just heard – talking about the content also helps cement the biblical truths you want them to take home.
Things I’d do Differently
I’m very analytical so there are several tweaks I’d make. Again, I’m going to try to share what might be most helpful to you as you plan your women’s ministry events.
Most are small things, like placing the photo booth in the space with the most light. Our lighting options are very limited in the worship center so it’s very bright or slightly dark. I was thankful someone let me know that their photos were turning out too dark so we slid it to a different space on Saturday morning.
We purchased 6 cases of water from Costco – including two mini-water bottle cases. I’d get another case of water as not everyone got a bottle on Saturday morning that wanted one before lunch. I should have also pointed out the locations of the water fountains.
I’d give better directions for the Brainstorming Boxed Lunch and I’d double-check the topic signs. I thought I had printed them with the same topic on the front and back, but most of the signs had two topics instead of one.
Many of the leaders would have liked more time in the workshops. They were 45 minutes. They could have used at least another 10 minutes or so.
I’m always looking to make things better the next time and I hope your team does the same. You may want to use my free printable Post Event Evaluation Form when your team walks through this process.
I want to wrap this up by expressing my thanks to every leader that attended. We had women from 17 states plus DC attend!
It was a joy and a pleasure to serve you and meet you. I pray you’ll face every ministry trial with joy knowing that when you endure you mature.
Leaders are already asking when the next one will be. That’s a great question! One I’m making a matter of prayer and fasting. Be sure to join my email list so you’ll get all the details.