20 Dec 2010

Changes in 2011

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Retreat ministry can play an important role in the life of the local church. Over the past several years, the tradition has been to have a winter retreat for youth, and all-church retreat in the summer. Lately, a few circumstances have led us to consider something different and more strategic.

  1. My growing familyIn the past, our winter retreats have been during the winter break. When we had no children or just one, it wasn’t too burdensome for us. But as our family grew, it became very stressful for us since the winter retreat coincided with the Advent/Christmas season along with many other end-of-the-year responsibilities. All this to say, these factors have caused us to reassess how we use our time and we concluded that we make changes for the sake of the health of our family.
  2. Our growing congregation – Our English Ministry (EM) has obviously grown over the past few years to include young adults and families who now make up the majority of the EM. In light of these developments, we need to reassess what is best for the whole EM.
  3. Our growing church – Our church is outgrowing our summer retreat facility. Although Skycroft has been great for us in the past, the reality is that the accommodations have been less than ideal especially for married couples and families. We’ve explored moving to another facility, but distance and cost effectiveness have ruled that out.
  4. Our growing vision – I have shared in the past my desire to partner and network with like minded ministries in our area. Obviously no one church can reach a region. It takes churches working together for the common goal of reaching people with the gospel. Joint retreats can be a powerful way of showing unity and mutually encouraging one another.

With these circumstances in mind, the elders and deacons considered together what to do in light of these circumstances. Here’s what we decided:

  1. Due to the space limitations at Skycroft, the EM adults have decided to part ways from the summer retreat. The youth and college would remain since most of their parents will be attending the Taiwanese program. In years past, finding a speaker who could speak effectively to sixth graders all the way to folks in their forties proved to be quite challenging. This new format allows for us to be more focused and strategic. The EM adult leaders will attend with the sole purpose of serving the youth/college and their needs. Abundant Life folks are also free to attend the Taiwanese program if so desired.
  2. The EM adults and Abundant Life will have their own retreat in the early spring. This is our fastest growing demographic which means there are expanding needs that we need to address.We’ll need this time away in hopes that we can find rest and encouragement as well as realign ourselves with our vision and mission.We believe a separate retreat will best serve not only the EM adults, but the church at large since the majority of laborers come from these ministries.
  3. Lastly, I am in the process of talking to different Chinese churches in the area in hopes of working together to reach Asian American youth with the gospel. We think a joint retreat here in the Northern Virginia area may be a good start. Details are still being worked out, but we hope that in the near future, there can be a greater partnership to train and equip youth to be effective witnesses in their homes and schools.

These are fairly big decisions that effect what we’re used to. But the hope behind these changes is that we can be more purposeful and strategic behind what we do. We never want to do things because “that’s the way it’s been done in the past”. We certainly need to look to the past, but only to assess the present, and to envision what our future will look like. Please be prayerful as we start implementing these changes in our retreat rhythms.

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One Response to Changes in 2011
  1. I like the idea on the summer retreats! Often I see people in my age group or younger complaining how the content in the sermons is too deep and somewhat “useless” to them. (I feel the same sometimes.) As a result, most of us lost focus in the sermon sessions during the retreat even though most of us were trying our best to concentrate.
    After this “reform” on our church’s summer retreat, I can now expect a three day long spiritual renewal to be more understandable and applicable to participants of my age group. I’m looking forward to have a very fruitful summer retreat this year!

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