This last weekend, the elders at my church and I went on our first elders retreat. It was incredible. The purpose of our retreat was to pray for God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ to be made known and enjoyed all the more at our church and in the world. We also made preparations for 2020, and wrestled with how we as elders can better love and shepherd as Christ loves and shepherds us. The retreat also served as incredible means in which we as elder grew in our unity and love for one another. We are now planning on having annual retreats and even times that we can bring our spouses so they can participate with us in our discussions and prayers. Below, I want to share what we did during our retreat and why it was so important.
First, we spent quite a bit of in prayer.
We began by simply praising God for all of His glory. We read various scriptures that highlighted His might, faithfulness, presence, grace, love, etc… We thanked God for all the ways He has lavished His grace upon us and our church. We interceded for many of our brothers and sisters. We asked God for wisdom and guidance as we talked about the church. What made this prayer time so exciting was that we could pray as long as we wanted. We were in no hurry. We didn’t have to get through our agenda in two hours. We spent more time in prayer than I think we had ever done before.
Next we had incredible times of discussion.
We discussed the spiritual needs of our church and how that ought to affect the upcoming sermons series. We also talked about various sins and idols that the sermon will be addressing.
We wrestled with our knowledge and understanding of current social and cultural issues. We concluded that we need to grow in these areas. We also brainstormed practical ways that we could get a better grasp on social and cultural trends. In fact, one great idea that was brought up, was to go to the local (very liberal) college and sit in on various forums and discussions. We thought that would be a great way to hear and interact first hand with people who may think differently than we do.
We also spent quite a bit of time putting ourselves under the microscope. We wrestled with how we have shepherded the church God has given us. In doing so, we reviewed how we have cared, led, and protected the church. This was a great time in which we unitedly sought to become more like Jesus as He shepherds us.
Lastly, we simply enjoyed being together.
In the evening we suspended all church talk. Instead, we spent time watching the Christian comedian, Tim Hawkins on YouTube videos. One of our elders brought his guitar and played hits from the 60’s and 70’s. We told stories, played poker (which I won), and laughed until our belly’s hurt. Our love for one another truly grew in exponential proportions because of this time.
I want to mention one last thing. Location is important. We were blessed to go to Cedar Springs Christian Retreat Center which is located just South of Canada in Sumas, Washington. This retreat center is absolutely beautiful. They have intentionally shared their grounds with the purpose of helping people to worship God, their Savior. The food was also great. If you go, be sure to ask for the apple cinnamon french toast (I had two helpings). The staff was very courteous helpful. In fact, at one point, the director approached us as we ate breakfast, thanked us for coming, and spent time praying for us.
That pretty much summarizes our first annual 2019 Elder Retreat.