“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.” Proverbs 21:5 (NLT)
“Joy fills hearts that are planning peace.” Proverbs 12:20 (NLT)
Our pastoral staff went to a cabin provided a family in our church for annual church and preaching calendar planning retreat. We have been preparing since August for this retreat and the advance work of each team member paid handsome dividends as far as calendar purposes went. Actually I just kind of was along for the ride because of the excellent work they had done. I felt more like I was directing a well rehearsed band, because each one knew their part in the purpose and plan of Woodland Church and came well prepared.
Our team understands the mission and purposes of Woodland Church, but to their credit each of them lives it out in their daily lives. Want to know what Woodland believes; examine the lives of our core members. “Celebrating God’s love by persuading others to become passionate followers of Christ” is a lifestyle for us. When it comes to planning, ideas are abundant if you understand your mission.
My homiletics professor told us if we had daily devotions we would never struggle with knowing what to preach. It would always be a challenge to decide what subjects to leave for later. These guys most be having incredible devotions. Their preaching ideas were spot on. They have thought about what the Scriptures say regarding the needs, hurts and interests of our community.
There was another element as well. This team loves each other. The easy going, good natured fellowship was evident among these pastors. Our meals and work time was filled with laughter, humor and just a sense of gratefulness that we are called to serve together. How many pastors does it take to grill a slab of salmon over a camp fire? And of course you have to beware of killer staples that dwell in the fingers of an old glove on a woodpile. We had a lot more work to do this year than normal. So we didn’t have the chance to relax. Guess you can’t call it a retreat if you work the whole time. But believe me it was fun.
I shared a morning series of devotions from Isaiah 7 regarding making good decisions through a steadfast faith in Christ. Some of life’s greatest promises come during some of life’s greatest crisis. During the inevitable difficult moments of life, nothing will substitute for a deep faith in Christ and His Word.
It was cool to see our pastors slipping off to call their wives and talk with their children. Healthy marriages and families are a mark of healthy pastors. I never cease to take that for granted.
Finally, I understand what Michiganders mean when they say we are going “up north!” There is an incredible beauty in the northern part of this state. The air was Michigan blue and the waters of the little lake we were on were cold and crystal clear. The night time revealed starry skies that your eyes just couldn’t stop gazing at. Pastor Mark was sitting around the fire with us on one of those starry nights and playing Celtic worship tunes and for a moment, I thought I was in another time in history, with other preachers sitting around a fire, thinking how we can reach this community for Christ. I wonder if it was like that for some of the pioneer missionaries.
Peace and Joy!