This past weekend, 44 Bethel leaders spent Friday night and Saturday together. The aim of the Elders, Deacons, Staff, and Ministry Directors who gathered for this year’s annual Leadership Retreat was to discern possible next steps for our church.
We kicked off Friday night with a potluck supper held in the church’s chapel. Halfway through the meal, retreat participants were surprised by some “party crashers”--a large number of our church’s young people were having an evening of fun. They had us recall the funniest moments from our teen years, and then shared the best of these memories with the whole group. They served us ice cream sundaes, and then left on another adventure.
In an interview on Friday night, Martin Contant described the experiences and personal reflection that have led him to change his views about how churches should plan for the future. In the past he thought churches should work out a plan and ask God to bless it. He now urges churches to give God control, being prayerful and attentive to His leading. Martin’s words set the tone for rest of the retreat. They launched us on a journey of prayer, discussion, and consideration of one another’s views with the ultimate goal of discerning how we could join God in His work.
Four main topics were discussed during the retreat. On Friday, members of our Multicultural Team talked about their experiences at Bethel and their hopes for the future, before we broke into groups for discussion. On Saturday, we considered ways all Bethel members could become personally engaged in the Great Commission, we investigated what is involved in planting a church, and we talked about the future of our Bannerman Ministries.
Many people commented on the positive spirit at the retreat. Everyone seemed comfortable in one another’s presence. People were quick to laugh, and there was a pervading sense of unity. All of this points to the presence of the Holy Spirit.
This retreat was sort of like taking a trip up the mountain to meet God, the way the prophets of old did. We think he was gracious to reveal Himself, even if not through a voice or visitation. Over the next weeks and months we plan to consider all the results from the retreat. Then we will present the results to the congregation for their consideration.
Our hope for our church is that all of our hearts will become united around a clear vision of the future. We want to gain the sense that God has, indeed, spoken, and that we are walking in His Will.
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