Last week our staff ministry area leaders had a planning retreat in Austin, Texas. On Monday morning we loaded up into 3 vans and then sped down Interstate 35 South to our state capital in a drive of some three hours. We were fortunate in that we had members who had made available their expansive house on the Colorado River complete with boathouse, enough rooms to provide lodging for us all, and majestic Texas Longhorns grazing about!
During the three day retreat, each work session began with a devotion. One cited Isaiah 8: 3 – 11:
11 For the Lord spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
We talked about the strength that comes through an increased awareness and reliance on God’s presence. Following that, our executive pastor Matt Tuggle presented a “theory of change” defining the means by which persons are transformed (sanctified) in the name of Christ. Some of these logistics were:
- Personal devotion and study of scripture
- Disruptive life events
- Small groups
Once we understood the means by which we could change lives, we then turned our attention to the values we wanted to embody. Matt led us through a robust discussion that forced us to reflect on our church culture and heritage, as well as our new direction.
Once our values were identified and defined, we began setting “targets.” I liked the use of this term because – as Matt explained – it embodies the understanding that you can come close to your goal without actually hitting it and still deliver a substantial benefit to the organization.
In between sessions, we were able to enjoy great meals and have recreation times that included basketball, boating, swimming, and even a mini golf driving range.
After three days, we returned back to Dallas energized and unified around a common plan.