A trip around the world in one weekend
Wonder Full World Women’s Ministry Retreat Kit, the newest retreat kit for women from Group Publishing, Inc., offers an affordable, fun-filled, interactive experience for churches of any size and budget. The retreat kit equips churches to create an experience for the women of their congregations using the talent of their own members rather than having a speaker come in for the weekend. Wonder Full World is more than just a weekend getaway. It’s an imaginative journey around the world and an exploration of the “I wonders” in a woman’s heart through in-depth , an unforgettable worship experience, and an open invitation for girlfriends to draw closer together and experience the vastness of God’s love.
Q & A with Amy Nappa, Executive Editor of
Wonder Full World Women’s Ministry Retreat Kit
Q: Let’s talk about the way churches usually do a women’s retreat. What makes Group’s retreat-in-a-box such a great alternative to the usual retreat setup?
A: The traditional approach to a women’s retreat has been to look outside of the church for content and leadership, usually by hiring a speaker for the weekend. This tends to result in a lecture environment where women do a lot of sitting and listening. With a Group retreat, churches have access to all the resources they need to lead a meaningful, life-changing retreat, including the opportunity to encourage the women in their own congregation to fulfill the leadership roles. A Group retreat is about interaction. We give women ample opportunity to discuss, to share their hearts, and to make new friends.
Q: What kind of woman will be touched by a Wonder Full World retreat?
A: We really want to engage women of all ages and from a variety of experiences. This retreat was written to engage both married and single women, mothers and those with no children. In Group’s 2009 State of the , we discovered that 94 percent of women’s ministry leaders we polled felt that reaching younger women was a great area of need for them, so that is one of our greatest target groups. There is also a special woman that we are thinking of as we plan the sessions—the woman who does not know Jesus. We include a gospel message in every retreat, shared simply, and we tell the leader of that session to be prepared to share her own salvation story. We have also included all the Scriptures in the participant journals so that women who don’t know much about the Bible won’t have to search for them.
Q: As you develop new ministry materials, what steps does your team at Group take to ensure that those materials will really connect with women?
A: One of the most important aspects of the creative process at Group is the research. We do focus groups with women all over the place, with both the women who love retreats and those who hate retreats. We are intentional in creating a retreat to meet the needs of many women, and what those women tell us is that they want to be able to talk and make friends, not just sit and listen. We have incorporated lots of discussion time, allowing women to share their own stories of how God has worked in their lives and what they hope He will do in their lives. Once we have completed the actual content, we lead every retreat ourselves with a group of real women before we market it to churches. We invite teens as young as 14, and we don’t put them at the kids’ table because we see these retreats as great opportunities to initiate relationships that will become mentoring relationships.
Q: As a woman equipping churches to minister to women, what do you see as the biggest challenge women’s ministries face today?
A: I think the biggest challenge is to come up with new and creative ideas for engaging women. Most people know they need to do something different, but nobody wants to change. They wish they could reach more women, but they are bound to tradition. We don’t wear the same clothes now that we wore ten years ago, so obviously we are willing to change some things in our lives to stay relevant in the culture. But for some reason, nobody wants to give up on the Christmas Tea, for example, because it was once the highlight of the women’s ministry year…15 years ago! No wonder so many women perceive women’s ministry as something for their moms. For some ministries, reaching more women could be as simple as offering a women’s Bible study in the evenings as well as in the mornings so that working women can attend. But none of this will happen until someone decides to change.
Q: Tell us more about Wonder Full World. What was the inspiration for the “around the world” theme?
A: That was based on research. We do focus groups and research to determine the next theme. We were tossing around the question: where do we want to go? Then we realized that we had a seven-session retreat…and there are seven continents, seven wonders of the world. But women don’t care so much about the “wonders of the world.” They wonder about their faith, their families, their purpose, and their God. As women began to tell us what they really wonder about, seven clear themes emerged. We have called them the of a Woman’s Heart. They are things like: “I wonder if anyone cares about me…I wonder if I matter to God…I wonder where God is when life is hard…I wonder if I can make a difference, etc.”
Q: What is included in the Wonder Full World Women’s Ministry Retreat Kit?
A: The contents of the kit (retail: $99.99) include:
· Director’s guide with supply list, suggested schedules, and decorating ideas
· Worship leader’s guide with sheet music for the songs
· Custom CD with eight songs
· Seven leader’s guides—one for each session
· Training and promotional DVD including three commercials
· CD with reproducible graphics, forms, and other goodies
· Travel themed audio tracks for each session
· Samples of all of the per-woman essentials and gifts (journal, charm, music CD, and tote bag)
· Sample swatch from the service project blanket
The cost for materials is $13.50 per participant, which includes these essentials:
· Journal with all the discussion questions, song lyrics, and Scriptures which is used throughout the retreat
· Globe charm which is presented as a constant reminder of the retreat and God’s everlasting love
· Service project (materials for fleece blanket – one blanket for every two participants)
For an additional cost, churches may also purchase a Wonder Full World tote bag and CD for each woman at the retreat. When the essentials and extras are purchased as a value pack, along with one blanket for every two women, the total cost is only $21 per attendee.