Dave Berry, one of the funniest guys on the planet once wrote, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: meetings.”
I’m not sure if he’s 100% right, but he’s close. Meetings, and extended ones like retreats, often don’t achieve their intended purpose.
My latest church pastor’s retreat, however, was probably the best ever in the 40 plus staff retreats I’ve either held or in which I’ve participated in 30 years of ministry.
The church where I’ve served as lead pastor for 7 years employs about 20 staff, including part-timers. Four, including me, make up the pastoral level and we get away once a year for our planning retreat.
As I reviewed this most recent retreat, in contrast to previous ones, I realize I’ve made some dumb mistakes in the past. My biggest ones include these.
Packing too much into the retreat (which has ranged from 1-3 days). I once handed out about 20 different documents for review and study.
Talking too much. At times I’ve talked/taught so much that I left little time for thorough interaction.
Going too long. As the adage goes, “The brain will absorb only what the butt can endure.”
Not including R&R.
Including other leaders too late into the planning process. In one church I asked our elders to join us after we had completed our planning. They ended up not being on the same page and the pastors felt like our retreat was a waste of time.
This time, though, our retreat was a great success. These factors contributed to its success.
Change is everywhere. And unless a church creates healthy change in itself, it will soon become obsolete. Numerous empty or almost empty churches in Europe and America’s inner cities bear witness to that.
Ronald Heifetz, a Harvard professor and business/leadership author, is most known for a concept called adaptive change/leadership. Essentially adaptive change (and leadership) requires not cosmetic, familiar, or known solutions to existing problems (called technical change). Rather it requires experimentation, change of perspective, developing new values, and deep change from within. This link summarizes the differences between adaptive change and technical change.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Dr. Heifetz describes the three key steps British Airways took in the 1990′s that transformed it from the airline nicknamed “Bloody Awful” to “The World’s Favourite Airline.”
The president at the time took the company through these three steps, applicable for churches faced with change.