I'm trying to get back in the habit of blogging more. It's hard to consider my daily life interesting to blog about most days but every so often I realize that my life is probably pretty different than many of yours. So today I thought I'd give you a glimpse into some of the not-so-glamorous missionary stuff.
Today we started our annual strategy review. Our strategy review has been an evolution. Before we moved to Salvador, we sat down as a team and wrote a strategy document. I can't remember exactly, but I think it was about 60 pages. Yeah, seriously. It talked about our big goals and dreams and some of the day to day stuff, too. It was intended to give us a starting place with our ministry but we knew going in that it would be a living, breathing document. So every year we sit down and re-examine what it is we're doing and what we hope to do. Does it sound exciting yet?
So today we started by looking at the past year and reflecting on what went well and what could have been better (or in some cases, flat out failed!). I should mention at this point that these retreats require a great deal of humility and very thick skin. (It has taken us years to get to the point that tears at these retreats are few and far between!) Then we considered our church's identity (a family of God) and our values (authenticity, healthy theology, growth and invitation). We asked ourselves, "How are we reflecting these? Are we effectively communicating them to the congregation? Are they sufficient or do we need to change them?"
Finally, we looked at the list of roles that we all currently hold. For each person on the team, we affirmed which jobs they have been doing well. After that, we expressed any hesitations that we may have about particular roles they have been filling. It sounds a little scary and it requires a great deal of trust (and as I said above, humility). But we start that time by first being confessional and admitting our own failings. It's rare that the team tells us anything that we don't already know--though sometimes we think we'd been "getting away with it" a little better than we actually were! From that conversation, we have a short list of some ministries that need to be re-examined and some roles that need to be filled by other people.
An essential element to the day is prayer and worship. We know that all of this is for God and is only possible through God. Taking the time to worship together unites us in purpose and reminds us that we are all here to serve our Lord.
So that was day one. As we get further into the retreat, we'll look closer at our focus and the ministries we have. We'll consider why the ministries exist and how they help us accomplish our goals. We'll brainstorm for new ways to reach out to the lost and to minister to God's family.
Strategy review is a tedious process. As I said, it's been an evolution. But we've found that as we have grown to trust each other more and experienced personal growth that it has become a time of necessary pruning and shaping. We all know that there will be tough conversations, times we don't get our way and moments of great frustration. We may have to give up ministries or roles that are important to us. But we believe it's all ultimately necessary to best serve God and use the resources that have been entrusted to us.