“We’re canceling next year’s retreat,” my friend mentioned to me the other day.

When I asked why, her answer didn’t surprise me. Women were busy, she said, and couldn’t make time to get away. Plus the ministry budget was struggling to cover the expenses of an overnight event.

Her experience is extremely common; busy schedules and tighter budgets are making overnight retreats a challenge for women’s ministries all over the country.

So are retreats quickly becoming a ministry dinosaur of the past?

We certainly hope not. There’s something special about spending uninterrupted time together in conversation, worship, prayer and service. It intensifies spiritual and relational growth, and retreats are one of the most effective ways to foster those deeper connections. BUT…

…your next retreat doesn’t have to be an overnight event. In fact, here are three alternative ideas to “retreat” that may fit your ministry better:

3 Fun Alternative Women’s Retreat Ideas That Are Budget-Friendly and Work For Busy Schedules

1. Plan a one-day in-house women’s retreat event

“Staycation” retreats have been growing in popularity over the past decade because they’re budget and busy-friendly. For this reason, each Group retreat kit provides a schedule for you to enjoy the full program in one day without feeling time-crunched.

2. Break your women’s retreat program into a weekly small group study

Each Group retreat has 6-7 sessions that would fit perfectly into morning or evening small group gatherings. And though you’ll miss out on some of the depth from a more extended time together, you’ll likely gain in higher participation.

For this option, think of your Group retreat kit as a comprehensive leader guide, and the participant guide and essentials as individual study materials for each woman.

3. Use your women’s retreat program as your ministry theme for the year by hosting multiple special and seasonal events that all tie together

For this fun year-long option, start with your retreat kit sessions and a calendar. Map out 6-7 special events during the year that incorporate each session. For example, try a moms’ night out, a service project event for moms and daughters, a holiday tea, or a clothing swap.

Gift a participant guide to each woman at the beginning of the year, and remind them to bring them to each special event–almost like a passport of fun! Get creative with how you weave in the worship, Bible teachings, and affirmations from each session, and enjoy an entire year of relationship-building.

P.S. Don’t forget some of the extra retreat gift goodies that would make perfect gifts and party favors for your event guests.

Overnight retreats may not be a good fit for your ministry any more, but hopefully these ideas spark your creativity about how to “retreat” in fresh ways that still connect women and foster spiritual growth.

What unconventional retreat ideas have you seen or tried recently that you’d like to share? Post your comment below!