Golden Parsons here, writing from Central Texas where the weather is beginning to feel a bit like fall. Believe me, that is unusual for this part of the country. Football games begin this next week -- from Little League to major college events. This is Friday Night Lights country, and there is excitement in the air. Fall is a popular time for retreats, so I thought we might spend a little time discussing that.
My husband and I directed a camp and conference center for ten years, and so understandably, I am partial to that ministry. It seems God can accomplish more in a weekend at a retreat, or a week at camp, than in a month of Sundays. So count it a privilege if you are invited to be the keynote speaker at a retreat or conference, even if it is simply to lead a workshop. In this blog, I'm referring not primarily to speakers/writers conferences, but women's retreats. Here are three reasons I love to speak at those events:
1. READY TO LISTEN - Usually the participants at a retreat come ready to receive what the speaker has to say. Oh, of course, occasionally there is the friend who has been coerced into coming, or problems will have come up with baby-sitting, and they are distracted, or a husband and wife will have had an argument prior to leaving for the retreat center. However, for the most part, those present are eager to have a weekend away.
2. READY TO RESPOND - Not only are those at a retreat ready to listen, they are usually ready to respond to the message which the speaker brings. They expect that there will be a call to action on their part at a retreat. Don't be timid about issuing some kind of invitation, which calls for a response on the part of the participants. I always ... and that is not hyberbole. I do mean always ... invite the participants to respond in some way. Now, I do try to be creative. It's usually not simply a come to the altar type of response.
I have a message on mentoring in which I talk about being the fragrance of Christ in our sphere of influence. At the end of the talk, I invite them to come and get a little bag of potpourri from a beautiful basket, which I have placed on the stage beside me, and give to someone in the audience who has been the fragrance of Christ to them in their lives. It's a very simple, touching end to a session, but calls for a response on their part.
3. READY TO GO - The goal in speaking at a retreat, in my opinion, is not to sell books or promote our career. It is to deliver a message God has placed on one's heart. Therefore, I will wait until the end to mention my books. I've had a book table available the whole retreat, but usually the ladies have their minds on other things, and we don't seem to sell many until after the retreat has closed out the last session.
We are Christian writers who write to bring glory to God and draw people to Him, whether we write fiction or non-fiction. I usually carry a copy of my books with me to the podium at the last session, and at the close, I will hold up each book and refer to it. I run through it quickly, and tell them I'll be available to visit with them, sign their books and answer their questions at the book table.
Have fun speaking at events this fall!
Golden Keyes Parsons writes historical fiction, and is also a popular retreat/conference speaker. Her highly acclaimed Darkness to Light Series (Thomas Nelson) chronicled the journey of her French Huguenot ancestors in 17th century France. Her fourth novel, His Steadfast Love, isa Civil War novel set in Texas. Her latest release is a compilation of four novellas (WhiteFire Publishing) – a biblical fiction series entitled Hidden Faces, Portraits of Nameless Women in the Gospels. Golden lives in Waco, TX, with her husband, Blaine, where they enjoy their children, grandchildren and are avid sports fans of their alma mater, Baylor University.
Please visit my website - www.goldenkeyesparsons.com