Retreat (Part 2)

Camp of the Woods, Ministerial Retreat

At this point, I am back home after my ministerial retreat.  While it was perhaps more of a conference than it was a retreat, it was still an enjoyable and relaxing experience.  I believe that now it is good for me to go over the notes that I took while attending the seminars so that I can see what wisdom there is to be gleaned in hindsight.  My favorite day of the ministerial retreat had to have been the first day.  This is where the speakers topics seemed to be most relevant and effective in my life.  The main speaker was Mike Hilson who is the pastor of a series of church plants near Washington D.C.  He was dynamic and seemed to be well versed in dealing with issues from a broad spectrum of church experiences.  The focus of this post will be on the first session that he presented to us.

“What you can do with a community of 500 is different than what you can do with 10,000”

This was one of the opening statements that he used.  While this might seem obvious to some people, in my opinion some churches forget this.  They want to pretend that they are a mega church and copy what other mega churches are doing.  This is not the case.  The focus of the ministerial retreat was church planting.  However, to be a part of church plant does not mean that you need to be a mega church first.  It may be entirely appropriate for a successful church of 150 people to plant a church 25 miles away.  This might be the best way to spread the Gospel.  Additionally, a church with a community of only 500 people (which is the case for many upstate New York churches) cannot expect that their average church attendance is ever going to be much higher than 150 even if they are a great church.  It might be possible if they were the only church in a small community, but even in the small town where my church is located there are four other churches within 2 miles of my church.  While our community reaches much more than 500 people, it is still an interesting thing to look at.

“Life well lived, is life lived well, in the tension that exists between competing realities”

The above statement is one that was said a number of times throughout the ministerial retreat.  When Hilson first made the statement he provided some examples of what these tensions might be.  Examples such as Pastor ↔ Human; District ↔ Town; Free Will ↔ Sovereign.  The free will argument is one that I ran into a lot in college.  Being a Wesleyan, free will is something that we hold strongly too.  However, I also believe that a proper Wesleyan has a strong sense of the sovereignty of God.  This is something that I think Wesley himself tried hard to establish.  During the session, Hilson said:

“If you say always sovereign, or always free will, then God is not God.  Sometimes in my like God has had to slam down my ideas and so no – Sovereign.  Other times he says here you go – Free Will.  Holiness is required, but grace is huge.

I personally like these statements and how he balanced out the competing issues.  It is the idea that God is entirely powerful, as well as entirely full of love.  It is not an either or when it comes to God.  Exactly how God can be all-powerful and all-knowing while still providing for an aspect of free will is open to a lot of debate and ultimately becomes rather inexplicable, but I think that Hilson’s words should be enough to satisfy most people without sacrificing an understanding of God.

In my opinion, everyone should go on a Ministerial Retreat

In an effort to not make huge posts, I am going to leave this one here.  So far, I have only covered about a third of the first session of the ministerial retreat.  The first session was definitely my favorite (it was also perhaps the one I was the most awake for) and as such I have the most notes for.  There are two more things that I would like to write about that happened int he first session, but I think that each of them deserve their own future post.  I would have to say that I enjoyed my first ministerial retreat.  I think there is a lot to learn at them.  My wife mentioned that I should have taken some pictures of the retreat center so that people could see what it was like.  Well, I did not think about that when I was there and as such do not have any.  However, if you would like more information on the campground for whatever reason, you can check it out here.  Until next time.


-Pastor Zach

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