Most, but not all, of the retreats I’ve been on have had a time of sharing at the end of the weekend.
It can be encouraging to your retreat planning team and your attendees to hear how God’s been at work during the weekend.
Your women will have some ah-ha moments to share.
When we share out loud and write down what He has done, we’re more likely to remember.
I admit, I don’t have a recipe for the perfect retreat ending. I’m still working on it…
But I can give you some things to consider and tips for how best to set-up your sharing time and how to finish well.
Suggestions for your time of sharing:
1. Clearly set a time limit and put it in your program. This means women will be aware that there will be a time of sharing – some of them will be thinking about what and if they want to share.
2. Announce the time limit at the beginning of your sharing time.
3. Ask women to limit their sharing to 2-3 minutes. Most will respect that.
4. Ask women to keep their sharing focused on one thing God revealed to them over the weekend.
5. Use a microphone so all of your women can hear and stay engaged.
6. Give women time to write down their take-aways during the weekend. I love this suggestion by Debby at Retreat-in-a-Bag . They pose a question at the very beginning of the retreat and have women write down on answer at the end of the retreat. Put these questions in your retreat program!
7. You could give your women 10 minutes to both complete their retreat surveys and write down their take-away before your time of sharing.
8. Wrap up your time of sharing with prayer. Thank God for what He has done in the lives of your women, for the new insights, for new friendships, etc.
Cautions for your time of sharing:
1. You may encounter a woman that over-shares. Your emcee for the weekend needs to be ready to jump in and redirect or wrap-up that woman’s sharing. “It’s so exciting to hear how God used this weekend to speak to you. Unfortunately we’re short on time and need to give other women an opportunity to share before we have to leave.”
2. Women may share in a transparent way that catches others off guard. This is okay. Keep Kleenex handy and be ready to give a hug to any woman that may need it.
3. Some of your women are more than ready to head home. Keep your sharing time moving along and wrap it up as soon as you can. I would not schedule more than 30 minutes for your time of sharing.
4. You may feel the need to stop and pray over a woman and/or a situation. Follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.
Most groups follow the time of sharing with a time of prayer and then dismiss from the facility.
You may want to give your women an opportunity to pray out loud or you may just want your retreat team leader to pray over the group.
While time together in prayer is sweet, I favor a time of group prayer in the discussion groups and/or during another time over the weekend. It is more intimate and there’s often not such a firm time limit.
Some of your women need to get back home whether it’s to prepare for Sunday evening church activities or just to give their husband a much needed break. Group prayers can quickly turn lengthy and some of your ladies will begin to stress out!
Consider your time of sharing a time of praise. I suspect God does. There’s no need to repeat that which has already been said.
I’m not big on hand-holding during prayer, but wrapping up retreats is one exception.
It can be really sweet to have a prayer said over your ladies while they stand holding hands in a circle and then finish with a song – just be sure to choose something everyone knows and stick with just the first verse and chorus.
You’ve got an opportunity to finish your retreat well.
It can be tempting not to plan this part, but it will be a greater blessing to all if you do!
Your turn to share: What suggestions do you have for a ending a retreat well?