WHAT TO EXPECT AT A CbW RENEWAL
We’ve gathered some questions and answers for those who have never attended a CbW renewal before. We hope these will give you a better idea of what you will experience if you attend one of our renewals.
If the question you have isn’t answered here, feel free to email us at [email protected]
Who can attend a Come before Winter renewal?
How can I find out more about or apply for an upcoming renewal?
We invite you to visit our Renewals page to learn more about upcoming renewals. On that page you will find our Renewal Interest Form, where you can indicate your interest in receiving information about future renewals.
If we are currently accepting applications for a specific renewal, you may select that renewal on the form, and our registrar will send you a message from our secure email account with instructions on how to apply.
How does Come before Winter decide who to accept?
The first criteria we use when processing an application is our participant profile. Come before Winter seeks to serve Christian leaders who minister to others in the name of Jesus for the advancement of the Kingdom. Our events are designed to facilitate spiritual renewal of God’s servant leaders who may experience “spiritual winter” in the form of fatigue, discouragement, or burnout as they intentionally and continually pour into the lives of others for Christ.
Examples include (but are not limited to):
- Ministers, pastors, and church leaders
- Missionaries (current or repatriated) and church planters
- Ministry leaders
- Bible teachers, disciple-makers, and spiritual mentors
- Employees of faith-based non-profits or non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
- Christian life coaches, counselors, and spiritual directors
CbW participants must speak and read English well enough to grasp the lessons and participate fully in all activities without assistance.
With the goal of facilitating deep spiritual renewal, we have found that we best serve our participants by hosting as diverse a group as possible within each region. Because of this, at times we have to place temporary holds on certain cities or countries from which we are receiving more applications than others. In such cases, qualified applicants who are accepted and confirm their willingness to attend will be placed on a waiting list until the application deadline for that particular renewal and offered spaces after that date as they come available through cancellations.
How will my personal information be kept secure?
We maintain strict confidentiality policies. Private information is shared only with certain Come before Winter staff members and renewal team members hosting the event.
Because we serve Christian leaders around the world, some of whom live in places that are not welcoming to Christians, we follow strict guidelines to maximize security within our application process. Once you request an application, you will receive all communications from a secure, encrypted email address and will be directed to an unlisted website to complete your application form. We employ the same procedures with all applicants and participants regardless of region.
All electronic documents are stored in an encrypted storage platform and are seen only by relevant team members for the period of time leading up the renewal but not afterward.
Team members do not discuss private details or struggles with each other or with others outside the team unless abuse or risk of harm is made evident. These rare situations are handled with the utmost care and privacy on a case-by-case basis.
Photos are taken at each event for publicity purposes, but participants may request that we not publish their pictures for security reasons. Accommodations will be made at each renewal to honor these requests and ensure the protection of those who work in sensitive contexts.
Is Come before Winter affiliated with one particular denomination or mission organization?
We welcome and value the uniqueness and contributions that come from multiple cultures and backgrounds and invite all Christian leaders to apply for our programs. Each program involves an application or registration process that helps us serve our participants with sensitivity and love.
Come before Winter began with a group of women who were nurtured by the Churches of Christ and the larger Stone-Campbell tradition. Some of the leading gifts from that tradition shaped Come before Winter’s ministry and values and continue to inform the work of Come before Winter today. Those values include a commitment to unity in the name of Jesus Christ, an emphasis on Scripture, evident in thoughtful Bible study, and a high view of community and group participation in worship through congregational singing (which has historically been a cappella). The same values still serve Come before Winter in our practice of hospitality and welcome to Christian leaders of all backgrounds, in the central role of paying attention to the Word, and in our practices of shared leadership and participation in worship.
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How long is an in-person renewal?
Our in-person renewals generally last five days, starting on Monday afternoon and wrapping up after lunch on Friday.
Can I attend just part of an in-person renewal or leave and come back during the week?
Participants should be present when the renewal begins on Monday and remain for the entire event, which will end after lunch on Friday. We do not accept applications from those unable to commit to the entire program. All sessions, including the first and final events of the renewal, are significant to the program, so we thank participants in advance for ensuring their full participation. Recreation time is scheduled for a couple of afternoons during the renewal. Participants may sign out during that scheduled recreation time if they desire but must return before the beginning of our scheduled evening events.
How much does it cost to participate in Come before Winter programs?
Each Come before Winter program is offered free of charge for those who apply and are accepted. For in-person and virtual renewals, our generous donors cover all costs (lodging, meals, and materials) except for travel to and from the event and spending money for additional expenses such as snacks, shopping, or special amenities at the renewal site.
For in-person renewals, we provide double-occupancy rooms. Depending on the resort, some participants may be asked to share a king-sized bed, but but we do not ask anyone to share queen or double beds. We also do not ask anyone to sleep on a top bunk or a fold out couch. As mentioned in our COVID-19 procedures, a confirmed participant may request one of a limited number of single-occupancy rooms for health reasons for an additional fee on a first come, first served basis.
Will Come before Winter arrange transportation for participants to and from the renewal?
Participants are responsible for arranging and paying for their own transportation, including airfare and any ground transportation required to get to and from the renewal site.
For in-person renewals, once the application process is closed, our registrar will share with the renewal group a list of all confirmed participants, their email addresses and where they are coming from, to aid those from the same region in coordinating travel plans together should they wish to do so. In some cases, the hotel or resort will offer a shuttle service; if so, the registrar will share that information. If the renewal venue does not offer a shuttle service, we will recommend resources to help participants plan their ground transportation.
For virtual renewals, each group is responsible for arranging transportation to and from their virtual renewal site.
With whom will I share a room during a renewal?
For a typical Come before Winter in-person renewal, we reserve rooms with capacity for two to three participants per room. We offer confirmed participants the opportunity to request a particular roommate and do our very best to accommodate each request. We do not ask participants to sleep on a top bunk or to share a bed smaller than a king. This means that in some cases, two participants may need to share a king-sized bed.
As mentioned in our COVID-19 procedures, a confirmed participant may request one of a limited number of single-occupancy rooms for health reasons for an additional fee on a first come, first served basis.
For virtual renewals, hosts of each regional group will arrange lodging, and any questions about accommodations should be directed to them.
Can I bring my nursing baby?
Come before Winter may accept nursing mothers who want to bring their infants (up to the age of 12 months). We will work with the hotel or other local contacts to secure a babysitter and will pay part or all of the babysitter’s fee, depending on the cost and participant needs at the time of the renewal. For more information, please contact our registrar at [email protected].
What materials will be provided for renewals?
We will give each participant a notebook that will be their guide throughout the week. It will include the renewal schedule as well as space for taking notes during each session. We will also provide pens and a few other gifts.
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What does the renewal schedule include?
Each renewal will focus on a specific book of the Bible, and we will immerse ourselves in that book throughout our time together. Every day will contain times for each of our core elements: study, prayer, worship, and reflection.
During the renewal, days usually begin with a short time of worship before breakfast and end with a short time of worship around 9 pm. Our days together are full! The schedule is intentionally filled with a variety of sessions and opportunities to connect with God, often in unexpected ways. We offer a couple of recreation times throughout the schedule and are mindful of giving participants a good night’s rest each night. All sessions, including the first and final events of the renewal, are significant to the program, so we thank participants in advance for fully participating in every aspect of the renewal.
What types of study are included in a renewal?
Deep, exegetical Bible study forms the foundation of each Come before Winter curriculum. Our curricula are developed by excellent students of the Word who are themselves actively involved in ministry. Each renewal includes careful engagement with a book of the Bible.
We recognize that each participant has different needs and learning styles and that God communicates with each person in unique ways. Because of that, we try to strike a balance between large-group activities, small-group sessions, and time for personal reflection. We also seek to accommodate different learning styles (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic), which we hope will give participants new ways to connect with the text and with their Creator. We honor the fact that God has created each of us to be intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and social beings, and we approach Bible study in a holistic way that connects the Word with our whole selves and our lives in ministry.
What types of prayer are included in a renewal?
Prayer is one of the foundations of our ministry; we cover each renewal and participant in prayer for weeks leading up to our events. While at the renewal, we also provide space for prayer as a whole group, prayer in small-group settings, and an individual prayer appointment for each participant.
What is a prayer appointment?
Prayer appointments are one-on-one prayerful conversations with a Come before Winter team member. Representing the spiritual discipline of intercessory prayer, these prayer appointments have become a foundational component at each of our renewals. Prayer appointments are an opportunity to share deeply about the unique struggles and joys that you are currently experiencing in your life and ministry and to listen to God together with your prayer partner’s support.
The appointments will last about 45 minutes. The day and time of your prayer appointment will be communicated with you at the beginning of the renewal. The prayer appointment is not a counseling session, and CbW prayer partners are not licensed to practice therapy. The contents of the prayerful conversation will remain confidential between you and the prayer partner.
Any disclosure of an intent to harm yourself or someone else, or any report of an incident of abuse will require your prayer partner to consult with ministry leaders to determine what steps are appropriate to protect those involved both physically and legally.
What can I expect during worship at a renewal?
We begin and end each day with worship during a renewal and have other opportunities for worship throughout each day. We hope that these times of worship will draw you closer to God and allow you to experience the Lord’s presence in old and new ways.
Come before Winter invites and celebrates God’s work in all people and all cultures. Because we serve diverse participants from multiple denominations and cultures around the world, it is likely that you will encounter worship songs or practices that are different from your own. We do our best to offer worship experiences that are inclusive of many practices and styles. This includes a cappella singing as well as singing with instruments, various prayer practices, and different ways of reading scripture. We invite you to engage in worship with an open heart and express your love for God in your own way during our times of worship.
Each time we come to worship, we enter in silence. We invite our participants to use this space as a time to prepare themselves for connecting with their Creator. We only begin worship once everyone has arrived because we want to enter the throne room together.
For each curriculum, the worship team works hard to find songs that fit with our theme and are well known, but we also want to share some new songs with you. Our prayer is that whether the song is new or old, that the words will speak to you in a new and powerful way.
What types of reflection are included in a renewal?
We plan specific times for three different types of reflection during the week: personal reflection, artistic reflection, and active reflection. These times will be guided by team members or through printed materials. We encourage each participant to embrace and participate fully in all types of reflection, even if some of the reflective experiences feel challenging or “stretching.” These places of stretching are often the places where God surprises us with new insights!