Years ago, when I was working on my Doctor of Ministry degree, one of the presenters was Leonard Sweet, profilic author and seminary professor. Somebody remarked about organizing a planning “retreat.” Dr. Sweet vehemently responded that Christians should never retreat. They should only advance. And, true to his view, from then on every time there was a gathering of people in what most of us would refer to as a retreat setting, Sweet would advertise the gathering as an “advance.”
Well, last Tuesday some of us gathered off-site to do some program planning for the coming year, as well as simply talking about the present and the future of Nardin Park. We called it a “Day-Treat.” We treated ourselves to a day of reflection and action. Hopefully, we are making decisions that will advance the ministry and mission of this congregation.
As a part of our discussion, we reminded ourselves of our purpose: “Christ-Centered, People-Focused, Spirit-Led.” We then rehearsed John Wesley’s three simple rules of relationships: (1) Do no harm, (2) Do good, and (3) Stay in love with God. Finally, we remembered our 2010 Lenten study about the five practices of ministry: (1) Radical Hospitality, (2) Passionate Worship, (3) Intentional Faith Development, (4) Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and (5) Extravagant Generosity.
These are the basic building blocks for the present and future of Nardin Park. All of these thoughts fit hand in glove with who we are and who we are to become. The litmus test of application will be the words, “SO THAT…” which means that we will have to know why we are doing what we are doing.
We are offering a Vacation Bible School SO THAT…children who participate can learn the heart songs and stories of their faith so they can have something meaningful for their lives.
We are going out of our way to make guests feel welcomed SO THAT…the grace of Jesus Christ can be experienced by everyone in a warm, inviting and loving community of faith.
We are re-working our web-site, our newsletter and our worship bulletin SO THAT…people can feel connected to God, to their church family, and to people they haven’t met.
It’s when we know why we are doing what we are doing that makes the ministries that we do valuable. It’s time to re-examine our faith life together so that we not simply about the busy-ness of membership, but the relevant activity of discipleship.
As we enjoyed our time together on our Day-Treat, I began thinking about my own personl life. I started injecting the words “so that…” into what I was doing and what I’m about. My head began to spin. Luckily, I’m going to start a 2 week vacation today and I’ll have some down-time just to let my mind wander on the important and the un-important.
Before I leave I am officiating the memorial service for Charlotte Beardsley. She died on her 100th birthday, full of optimism and hope to her last breath. It will be a service of celebration for her life and her entrance into life eternal. Think of all the “so thats…” in her life. Wow!