December 10, 2018

Retreat to Move Forward: 3 Ideas

Do you have a date set for your next Vestry/leadership retreat?

In our goal-oriented society, it may sound odd, or even dereliction of duty, to replace a monthly decision-making meeting with a retreat to “vision” about “the big picture.” Yet the very difficulty of setting aside pressing issues is what makes a retreat so important. Simply put, if we don’t designate time to think about the big picture, we generally won’t. Here are three ideas for planning a retreat that will help your congregation move forward:

First, set the expectation that an extended annual retreat is important, and all leadership team members should attend. Set the date and far enough in advance for calendar commitment to be made. This expectation should be discussed with potential Senior Wardens and candidates for Vestry.

Second, invite the Holy Spirit to attend. Opening the retreat with holy reflection is a great way to start. To continue, include time throughout the agenda to prayerfully reflect on your leadership responsibilities, what God is calling your faith community to accomplish (mission and vision), and the steps you are considering to fulfill that call. Be ready to say, “Time out for prayer!” if there is a subject that seems to have multiple possibilities for resolution.

Finally, keep the retreat focused on the big picture, rather than making it a longer-than-normal monthly agenda. For instance, if a topic of concern is finances, rather than pouring over the line-item budget, discuss how you might enliven the spirituality of giving through an expanded, year ‘round stewardship ministry. If a hot topic is the ever-aging boiler, replace that with a discussion about what ministries your buildings could support if they were in good condition.

This kind of end-result thinking is what inspires people to take the difficult steps necessary to achieve exciting outcomes. So take good notes! In future meetings, keep yourselves accountable for making strategic decisions that support your God-inspired vision.