We’re smack in the middle of Staff Retreat ’09, and unlike some of my pastor friends at other churches, we do call it “Staff Retreat” and not “Staff Advance.”  We’re getting the heck away from you people.  :)

Our staff has come a long way from my very first retreat back in May of 2003, when the entire staff (I think about 7 of us) could fit in the living room of a church member’s borrowed beach house.  Last night I had to introduce myself to some of the newest people on our team, and instead of traveling off site we’ve had to stick around closer to town this year, mainly because we can’t fit anywhere else.

The contrast between Summit staff retreats and those of other churches I’ve served is that retreats at the Summit are always more about the why than the what. At other churches we’d come in armed with our annual calendars and our ministry plans and our red pens and highlighters and boxing gloves just in case the student ministry’s World’s Largest Banana Split Night was planned on top of the worship ministry’s Fall Cantata (this year’s theme: Fall Into Worship…Leaf Your Cares Behind).

But here, I am grateful for the fact that while planning has its place, the priority goes to getting our souls in order.  For example, yesterday morning the first assignment was that we all pick up a $5 gift card to local coffee shops (thanks Uncle Tim) and head out for two hours of solitude, prayer, and reflection.  The idea was that we couldn’t be effective together until we had done business with God alone.  The rest of our time will highlight similar priorities, albeit with fewer Skinny Vanilla Lattes.

Of course, we have the obligatory annual team building time, where the agony of my seventh grade year resurrects itself in the athletic arena, but even that is a lesson in personal humility.

Sometime today, would you take a moment and pray for the Summit staff?  I believe that God has great things to teach us as we look ahead to 2010.  We’re not naive enough to believe that we have it all figured out or that there’s nothing else to learn.  On the contrary, the further we go down this rabbit hole the more crucial it becomes to depend on God’s ability to save us from ourselves.  Pray that God will use Staff Retreat ’09 as another spiritual tipping point among the pastors and staff of the Summit Church.

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