Workshop vs. Retreat

    What is the difference in a Widowhood Workshop and a Widow/Widower Retreat? The Widowhood Workshop ministry has conducted both. It would be easy to confuse the two. Let me explain.

    Generally speaking about their primary (not exclusive) purposes, one is educational…the other inspirational. One is a something-for-everyone event…the other strictly for the widowed. A Widowhood Workshop is the former. A Widow/Widower Retreat is the latter.

    A Workshop educates attendees about widowhood, what the loss is like, and the challenge to live a meaningful life after the heartache of such a personal loss. It highlights both the divine and personal perspective about widowhood. This increased knowledge, hopefully, helps the non-widowed to more effectively minister to those who have lost their mates (in their families, churches, and communities). This education should also help those who are married to cherish their mate more, invest more heavily in their marriage with the reminder it will end at some point and one of them will be left behind. Greater knowledge will also help better prepare the one left behind to deal with the harsh reality of loss.

    A Retreat is designed to inspire those who have suffered loss. They already know about loss. They are living it. They often struggle in silence. Their loss makes others feel uncomfortable. We humans do not like discomfort, so most keep our distance. Widowed people can become socially estranged. The Retreat atmosphere is unique. Everyone has suffered severe loss. Everyone there knows everyone else has suffered loss. It’s a social atmosphere without the typical awkwardness experienced by the widowed in public. The activities at a Retreat are faith-building, spirit-lifting, and thought-provoking. It is all about encouraging the widowed. We have Youth Meetings, Family Encampments, Ladies Inspiration Days…Why not have a Widow/Widower Retreat?

    There is more information about both Workshops and the upcoming Retreat on the ministry website.

Why Have a Widow/Widower Retreat?

Dr. Ira North, probably best known for his lengthy ministry with the old Madison church in Middle Tennessee, recommended to churches that wanted to grow to go “all out” for young people. I agreed with that when I first read it in his book and still believe he was “spot on.” One of the effective ministries that has been blessing our youth for decades has been youth meetings (of various sorts). They complement the efforts of conscientious parents to train their children in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). Parents and churches have cooperated to host such events, provide transportation and in some cases even housing.

Why not a Widow/Widower Retreat to build faith and provide encouragement to those who have gone through the excruciating loss of their spouse? Why can’t families and churches work together to provide this kind of experience for those of their number who are trying to do life after loss? A “youth meeting” for the widowed! Those were the kinds of reflections that led the Widowhood Workshop ministry to host its first-ever retreat in August of 2018.

Last year’s retreat brought together over 70 widows and widowers from 14 different counties in Tennessee and eight different states. Attendees ranged in age from their 30’s to 90’s. They represented 2,414 years of marriage and 408 years of widowhood. Our exit surveys indicated it was overwhelmingly successful. Again, the LaVergne (TN) church of Christ (Rutherford County) is graciously permitting the Widowhood Workshop ministry to use their building to host our second retreat August 2-3, 2019.

We have a responsibility to care for those in unusually difficult life circumstances (Ja. 1:27; 2:15; cf., Mt. 25:31-46; 1 Jhn. 3:17-18). What are we doing for the widowed? Can we do more?

For more information on the upcoming retreat click the link below.