This is a church officer retreat we put together for our three leadership boards: Elders, Deacons and Trustees. The first day was for all of the groups and the second day was just for the session. The objective of the retreat was to evaluate how we were progressing on our thematic goal we established 8 months prior. (See Church Officer Retreat in this blog)
We wanted to see if we had actually been faithful to that goal, if we had seen any changes in behavior or practice and finally determine if that goal should still be the same going forward.
Here is what we did.
Dinner and Fellowship
Put leaders in four groups of six or eight, making sure officers are equally represented at every table. Hand out scripture readings telling of the story of the disciples being sent out to do ministry in the Book of Acts.
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Give each table stories from the Book of Acts that tells the story of the disciples going to the different regions. Have them retell the story to the group. One table is Jerusalem, one table is Judea, etc. After each table shares with the larger group a Bible story about what the disciples did in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the church, as the question:
- Who is Jerusalem for our church?
- Who is Judea for our church?
- Who is Samaria for our church?
- Who are the Ends of the Earth for our church?
After each group has identified who these groups are for the church, ask the question:
If our church ceased to exist, what difference would it make to those regions we named?
Group Answer: “The greatest impact would be on those who are in Jerusalem. It would matter least to those identified as The Ends of the Earth and Samaria, It would matter from a logistical perspective for Judea, because non members use the building, but they would be able to find another building. The congregation would still meet if the building was no longer here. The church is not the building.”
After we assessed who we were in relation to who God as called us to be, we recalled our thematic goal:
REMEMBERING THE THEMATIC GOAL FOR 2014
The Thematic Goal:
Every committee or group will be intentional about inviting other committees and groups to share in ministry with them. This could be inviting one person to come along, or committee, small group or a large group or the community.
Every committee meeting should begin with the question, “How are we working to fulfill our thematic goal?”
Theme: “Come With Us”
Why did we say this goal was the most important of all goals?
What is the opposite of “coming with us?” – What’s the problem we are trying to fix?
The group remembered that the challenge we were trying to address was the need to be a unifying body working together for a common goal as opposed to individual goals with individual ministries. The group also recalled the desire to bring people home again after a long and rough interim. People need to feel welcomed back. The problem was two-fold: people were check out, and people were doing ministry within a vacuum.
How does the goal address who we are called to be as people of faith?
By broadening the opportunities for ministry and involvement we grow in relationship with God and with each other. Our community undergirds our faith. You cannot grow in your faith without other people growing with you.
Questions for Discussion: Give each table one of the following questions:
Imagine a person walked up to you at church on Sunday morning and asked the question:
- Why should I come with you?
- Where are you going?
- How do I come with you?
- What will we be doing?
SATURDAY: Session Only
What did we learn the night before about how our church officers understand our vision (why), mission (what), and intention?
The session was asked to look at a long list of values and choose the top four values that they believed was most important to the congregation. Here are all of the values that were named:
TOP VALUES (These values received the most votes)
- Family and Belonging
- Care and Compassion
- Order and Pragmatism
Break into three groups. Each group takes a value and answers the following questions:.
- Define the value in a sentence.
- Where is that value in scripture?
- How does this value address the “problem” or the thematic goal we are trying to achieve?
Value #1 Family
Family means a promise to be with you throughout your life. It’s the Baptismal covenant. It’s to be accountable to each other. It requires discipline and grace, joy and a feeling of belonging. It’s to bear with one another and to rejoice together.
Scripture: Joseph and his brothers. The Prodigal Son. Ephesians 4
*It was noted the “family” is an ideal, but not necessarily a reality for everyone.
Addressing the Thematic Goal:
If you are in the family, how do you feel included if you are outside of the family?
How does a church that functions in a corporate model address the highest value of being a family? What does family look like that functions in a corporation?
Value #2 Order
Definition: Order implies that there is a process and a system for everything. It provides for transparency and allows for many things to be managed. It is the opposite of chaos.
Scripture: Exodus/ Moses organizing the Hebrews
1 Corinthians: “fitting and orderly way”
*A word of caution was made around this value, that Order can sometimes become worshipped and valued over purpose and intent.
Addressing the Thematic Goal:
Order permits everyone to have voice. It allows for consensus and dialogue. For example, the Pastor Nominating process, while long and very orderly, did provide for the outcome people were praying for.
Value #3 Compassion and Caring
Being with and showing genuine love for each other in good times and bad. It is through compassion that we see God the most.
Scripture: Psalm 94
Addressing the Goal:
Our deacons, Stephen Ministers, prayer chain ministry, prayer covenant families all address the value of being with people in their life joys and struggles.
OVERALL OBSERVATIONS MADE THROUGHOUT THE TWO-DAY RETREAT
- **The observation was there have been two cultures: the emerging culture and the stated culture. The emerging culture, is the true culture. It values family, belonging, compassion and love. The stated culture valued growth, building campaigns, education centers, new campuses etc.”
- **The observation was made that the culture assumed that people needed to be invited to serve and that service was an activity reserved for those only in an elite group. People have not felt included or welcomed to join. They have felt that they needed to be asked to join. This behavior is seen in the pledging patterns. Over 50% of the congregation does not currently pledge. Members of the congregation have been approached by leadership and asked to give on an individual basis.
- **The observation was made that often members give to the area of ministry they feel most invested in, but not the whole. They don’t want their ministry to suffer, so they will give specifically to that area.
- **The observation was made that it we are very focused on our own needs. We are thinking a lot about “Jerusalem.” (going back to the first day discussion) It could be that if we cared more about those area that represent Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth, that we will have a greater sense of our purpose in Jerusalem.
- Using the Acts narrative to evaluate the impact we make locally, communally and globally is a safe way to evaluate our priorities, and look at who we are serving the impact we are making.
- The questions of why, what, who, and where is a way of defining mission, vision, values and implementation. This is important because it is so easy to just want to get to the solution without really understanding the problem or what truly matters.
- We took the work we had done on Thursday and said, “based on what was said the night before, these are our values.” Naming our core values are important because they make us see what values are not lifted and what values guide our decision-making. Our values define our culture.
- Once we had determined our goal – which is our vision and then defined what that goal looks like, which is our mission, we define our values, which is what drives the mission.
- After our values were named we could evaluate them and see how they helped or hindered the goal.
- It was not until all of this work was done that we began to look at organizational committee structure and budget issues.