Last month I married my best friend in the most beautiful wedding. Two days later we were on a flight to Cancun for our honeymoon. It was nothing short of amazing! At the airport and resorts we ran into tons of couples on their honeymoon just like us. We even did an excursion that was all couples honeymooning that were our age. And let me tell you, it was so refreshing. There is just something special about sharing experiences with peers. Even though they were strangers, we had so much to talk about because we were all in the same stage of life.
That is why group focused retreats are so impactful. Whether it is couples like us or men’s/women’s ministry, there are plenty of options to bring those small groups together. Often, youth will separate for service, but adults tend to be thrown all together for their church activities. Having a men’s or women’s retreat will let the group bond and fellowship with those similar to them. This could prompt them to be more open because they will be comfortable and have support. Plus, guests will meet and grow closer to those in the church that they may have never met or only see shortly on Sunday mornings.
There are tons of lessons online devoted to certain demographics, such as men, women, youth, couples, seniors, or families. This specific topic also helps to keep the interest at your retreat. For example, talking about marriage at a youth event won’t pique much interest for 12-year-olds. Even when talking to the whole congregation, you know several will not be listening when they don’t think it pertains to them. Choosing just a small group helps ensure that everyone attending will enjoy the event. They can relate, seek advice, and share experiences with those who can help them most.
Across the Network over the last 5 years, these demographic targeted events account for 70% of all events we host. It’s no surprise that most of those are youth events. That is the common misconception that ministry retreats are only youth camps. Definitely not true! 12% of our events per year are women’s events and 8% are men’s events. Almost all of those are returning groups from year to year. That means these ministries have discovered the benefits of this type of event and have had so much success and interest to keep having them annually.
Did we have an awesome time snorkeling, cave diving, and ruin exploring? Yes! Did having those couples there affect our experience? Absolutely. Will we ever see them again? No. And that’s okay. We developed closeness and trust in that time that was truly effective because we did activities with other people that we could relate to. So, think about what a group specific retreat could do for your ministry.