This past Monday, Elmhurst CRC’s staff assembled next door at Park Place for a five-hour “retreat.” Getting out of our offices and ordinary environments affords us the opportunity to sing, pray, laugh, learn, and see the big picture of what God is doing with fresh eyes. Over the lunch hour, we paused for a moment in thanks for people like you, who, if you are reading this blog, demonstrate the type of care and curiosity that makes the church go. To you we say… THANK YOU!
When I tell people that we have a regular rhythm of staff retreats, they frequently wonder what it is that we would be learning all day, or they assume that we spend hour after hour in holy prayer and reverence. To answer, here’s what we did this past Monday:
We started with some frustration. It snowed a fair amount on Sunday night into Monday and many of us who commute were running late and feeling frustrated. Once we were all together, we began with an extended time of prayer, singing, and worship built around the song, “This is How I Fight My Battles.” This song allowed us to name some of our current concerns and burdens in our ministry work as well as in family life and offer them up to God. One of my favorite lines in that song goes, “It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by you.”
I can feel my hope rekindled and spirit rise when I sing that repeatedly to God!
We spent time taking our “personal spiritual temperatures” as well. We divided up into small groups and talked about how we are currently experiencing rest and Sabbath and evaluated where we currently are on the spectrum of “good tired, regularly tired, and dangerously tired.” Pastor Jeff also led us in a time to check our “outreach temperature” and inspired us to keep growing in the outward-facing dimension of our spiritual lives.
Finally, we studied, trained and learned together. Staff has been working our way through Andy Stanley’s recent book, Deep and Wide. This is a book that regularly expands our vision of what the church can be. One of the principles we wrestled was that “time in erodes awareness of.” For us, that means the longer we work at church, the less we see the hurdles and barriers that might be readily apparent to guests and first-time visitors. Each of us left with an assignment to identify someone who can help us see our ministry and environment with fresh eyes and invite them to walk through our ministry and give us some honest feedback.
We also spent some time studying Ephesians 4, which describes Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the “inheritance” he left behind for his church. This time led us to contemplate the specific spiritual gifts that Jesus bequeathed his Church in general, and for Elmhurst CRC in particular. Ephesians 4 specifically mentions that Jesus has left us the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, shepherding, and teaching. Each of these gifts has a place and a strong presence at ECRC for which I give thanks!
I hope you are able to make it to worship this weekend and consider the mighty inheritance that Jesus has left for you and this community.
Peace to you along the Way,
- Pastor Gregg