When I came on staff at National Community Church in January 2002, my first responsibility was to plan our first ever Leadership Retreat. A decade later, I am now heading to my eleventh leadership retreat. I’m pretty sure it’s the only thing we’ve done this consistently for this long at NCC, and it remains the favorite line item on my portfolio.
Our Annual Leadership Retreat is a time when we gather all of our small group leaders and ministry leaders to worship together, pray together, play together, celebrate the previous year together, and look forward to what God might want to do in the upcoming year. I’ve always promoted three goals for the retreat- a time to cast vision, deliver training, and create community with our leaders. While all of those are certainly goals we pursue every year, I discovered one that might be even more important while working on the retreat last year: to maintain and celebrate our culture.
When I think about our core values- everything is an experiment, do it right and do it big, go the extra mile, pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you, playing it safe is risky, everyone is invaluable and irreplaceable, etc.– I realize that everything we do at the retreat is built on those core values.
This year, the theme is IF.
What if we were so desperate for a move of God that we would be willing to go anywhere or do anything just to be a part of it?
What if we slowed down long enough to wait on the presence of God?
What if we resolved that we would be leaders who would honor others, work with excellence, and walk in humility?
What if we really acted like we believed Jesus when he said that those who would be first must serve others?
When God is in the equation, the possibilities are endless. Dirt becomes the medicine that heals, love becomes the best weapon we can wield, and the voice of God is heard in the cry of an infant.
This is the time of year when we find ourselves absolutely amazed by what God can do if 300 leaders commit themselves to creating community, making disciples, and doing ministry. Church buildings become movie theaters, and movie theaters become gatherings for Church. Coffeehouses become sacred ground. Wells are dug in the Congo, kids are mentored in Anacostia, and women are loved out of the brothels in Thailand. If we pray, miracles become the new normal.