In general, people enjoy being around other people that share certain similarities. Correspondingly, couples may connect with other couples that share their same beliefs, value systems and faith. Christian marriage retreats can be beneficial not just because the couples are similar, but they can also help one another overcome challenges and obstacles. Developing such an event can be quite a task; however, thoughtful planning can produce a successful retreat.
1. Early Planning
When deciding upon a location, consider venues such as resorts, hotels, conference centers, public parks, campgrounds or a private home. Ensure that there are areas for dining, group work, entertainment and relaxation. Some locations may requires as much as four months notice before the date of the retreat. Before choosing a date, consider the timing of church events, weather and proximity to holidays. Choose a separate date as a deadline for all invitees to respond with a final reservation and payment, if necessary.
Like most events, some advertising will be involved. One of the best places to find married Christian couples will be in churches. Display the information about your upcoming retreat in the churches' bulletin announcements. It may also be helpful to have someone from each church announce information about the upcoming retreat in the time just before service. Provide contact information for couples to reference if they’re interested in attending the retreat.
3. Creating a Questionnaire
Create a questionnaire to be distributed to interested couples, if possible. Include questions about hobbies, number of children, years of marriage and challenges they have faced, for example. Such questions can help to identify the similarities and differences between couples. According to this information, consider pairing certain couples together to facilitate their growth process or including activities that may help with their specific challenges.
4. Designing the Retreat
Allocate time during each day of the retreat for prayer. According to a study by Frank Fincham, couples who pray together and for one another report significantly more unity and trust for their partners. Arrange group couples exercises to facilitate positive communication; invite a Christian marriage counselor to lead a group session. Include communication exercises. For instance, ask couples to engage in dialogue where one partner repeats exactly what the other partner says, to demonstrate listening and understanding. Additionally, encourage couples to take on the persona of their partners. By utilizing role-play, couples may find it helpful to sympathize with one another. Schedule time where couples can engage in fun activities such as hiking, painting and interactive games. Lastly, include some free time so the couples can spend time alone. This time is an opportunity for them utilize the skills and tools they have learned during the retreat as well as allow for relaxation.
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