Shelter-at-home restrictions have disrupted the meetings and retreats scheduled for the past six months, but it is possible to finish 2020 in a spiritually grounded event with your women’s group.
With restrictions on group size, social distancing, and concerns over food distribution, you might think that your Advent Tea or Cookie Exchange needs to be canceled—eliminating that special time to connect and nourish relationships with other women. While things may look different, it is still possible to have a time of connection for your women’s groups.
For in-person gatherings, things will look a bit different. As a starter, for your planning, think about these issues:
Location Space--You’ll need tables that are 6’ in diameter, and then seat only four people at each table, to ensure proper spacing. You can have people rotate to different tables to allow for “mixing” at the event, without a group social interaction.
You may need to offer multiple “seatings” to have space for everyone, allowing you to offer daytime, evening and weekend choices. As a bonus, you will find out which times now fit your group’s lifestyle the best because those will be the ones that fill up fast!
Consider Childcare Options—will it be possible to offer childcare? If so, then you will probably have a limit as to how many children you can safely host. Be sure to clearly communicate any childcare plans and restrictions at the time of registration.
Alter the Program to Fit Local Guidelines—Inviting people to congregate in a line to get food or drinks will make at least some of your guests uncomfortable. Consider multiple stations or having servers, wearing masks, deliver any food and drink being served.
Change the Content Focus—Begin with icebreaker questions, but encourage each person to share at least one thing about themselves with the group. An easy one for everyone to answer is: Why are you excited to be here?
Add more devotion-centered interactions. Encourage participation at each table. This time should quiet the mind and slow down the pace for participants to focus on the devotional material presented. Consider changing up the presentation of the content. Use readers, a video (search the YouTube site for options that will fit your topic), music (even if you can’t sing, participants can say the words out loud with the musical background). Giving women a Christ-centered experience while they are gathered together is one of the best gifts they will get all year.
For online gatherings, much of what you present can be prerecorded, leaving you free to “moderate” their responses and ensure the entire group feels connected and nourished.
If you use Facebook Live, Zoom, or some other interactive meeting platform, participants will see each other and hear each other’s responses. Icebreaker questions will help everyone become familiar with the technology before your official program begins. Then as the moderator, you can “share your screen” during the devotional time, sharing prerecorded readings, music, and an inspirational video, if you find one that works on the YouTube site. Be sure to create a design for the slides that you show so the program still feels cohesive.
Either way you chose to gather, it will be different, but it can still be impactful, enjoyable, and Christ-centered.
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