Why the Church needs a retreat

Before I tell you why, here’s our story:

Two years ago while on Sabbatical, Ben attended a FOCUS retreat of HTB London. He witnessed just a few days, but he saw the church in the city venture to the countryside for a week together of worship, encouragement, rest, and recreation. Ben began to pray about doing something similar with our church. He shared the vision with our team. The vision and prayer were now in the making! We would do this in May on the weekend of Bay to Breakers (an “athletic event” in the city that runs from the Bay to the breaking of the ocean waves in the Pacific where clothing is optional, but one cannot run intoxicated) This weekend always affects getting downtown to Epic anyway - so let’s head to the redwoods! We secured the location, speaker, and worship leader. Our Kids director wrote a full curriculum and our team executed the most excellent, well-run weekend ever, full of games, personal tote bags for every camper, and marketing/storytelling that wowed us all. Even a week prior to our first FOCUS, Ben and I were talking with a pastor in London. He said, “you’ll see things happen in a weekend away that would take 5 years to come together from one Sunday to the next.” We shook our heads believing he was telling the truth. We just didn’t know how good it would be!

So here’s why the Church needs a retreat:

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what i learned at leadership conference

we’ve been to london. but more than that, we’ve been changed.

Ben and I had the incredible, most humbling and exhilarating opportunity to see the Church alive. Believe me. I saw it with my own eyes. The Church is alive all across this planet!

God is using Debbie and her brother to invest in the lives of thousands of youth in India. Pekka from Finland is stepping into schools and seeing life change. A lawyer from Germany has started a church in a pub. Danny and Jackie remain faithful leaders at a church in Indiana. Issac and Valerie are forming a community of creatives in south Florida. Al reached out to a Michelin star restaurant in East London about partnering with his church to provide meals for the single mothers in their community and the chefs said yes! Claude was a drug dealer at a young age and found Jesus and is now studying to be a pastor. Jessica and David Oyelowo talk marriage and acting and Jesus being central to all they do.

And while conferences can be quite overwhelming with information, God did something so sweet and intimate with me and Ben. He repeated Himself to us. He used new friends and main stage speakers and His Spirit to repeat what He’s been speaking to us for the past few months. How kind is that? I didn’t fill my journal with a wealth of new information. Rather, I wrote phrases that I’ve written down recently and I let Him wow me with confirmation of what He wants to do in me, in His Church in San Francisco and in this season of life.

Here are a few takeaways. My London leadership learnings:

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what I'm learning about Lent

40 days of fasting and prayer leading up to the most remarkable days in the Christian faith, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is Lent.

Because Easter is a moveable feast, so is Lent and the other holy days of Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday. This year, Lent is observed from March 6 – April 18. It’s not found in the Bible, but has been observed by followers of Christ for centuries as a spiritual discipline and remembrance.

 I’ve learned from some scholars that the 40 days imitates Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness before He began His public ministry. I’ve read that “like all Christian holy days and holidays, it has changed over the years, but its purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter.” (Christianity Today)

Secular theories of Lent involve Fat Tuesday and giving up something for selfish reasons, selfish gain, or out of religious obligation.

From my findings, observing Lent is intentionally setting aside time to remember Christ's life and death and resurrection and to discipline oneself to fasting, prayer, and studying of the Scriptures.

I recently read that “if Lent is not about getting to know Jesus Christ better, it is a waste of time.”

Therefore, I don't feel pressured into observing Lent, but consider it an opportunity to know Christ more.

Anytime I make a goal or set out to do something, I’m also looking to the other side of the accomplishment or journey. Looking at Lent, I wonder, what will come of us after 40 days of fixing our gaze on Jesus and less on the things of this world as we deny self more than normal? What could happen as we develop a stronger discipline of prayer, or at the very least an awareness that we’ve given something up to gain more of Jesus?  (put this in the email to those who participate)

What if the gain is greater than the sacrifice? 

“No matter how deep you are now, wade in deeper still. Don’t worry about what’s going to get wet. Don’t stop at the point where you can keep your feet underneath you. Get swept away. What are you holding onto? What are your hesitations to living a more Spirit-led life of faith? What illusion of control are you clinging to? Go all in. Pray today that this fast will be just the beginning of a deeper relationship with God.” (21 day fast, You Version)

 

Here’s my story: 

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