On 24th & 25th November Pastorate held a 2 day retreat for those in leadership of the church - of cell groups, services, children's church, youth, prayer, worship and of course, Pastorate. The goal was to spend time in prayer and reading Scripture, seeking God's direction for St John's and discerning together the next steps of the journey. Here is a summary of the time we had together.
After a bit of team-building/ icebreaker on Friday afternoon, we shared our expectations for the retreat time and the questions we brought with us. This time highlighted for us our united desire to draw near to God and to hear from Him, as well as the desire we all have to be together as the St John’s family. People shared their longing for growth, especially for our young people, and the desire to grow deeper relationships of trust within our community.
Jeremy shared a synopsis of our rich history as a Good News community in Wynberg, and how God has used us to reach the lost and hurting, particularly in times when we have been generous with the resources he has given us.
Our retreat was designed to be more about discerning and pursuing God’s will together, than a strategic planning session. We wanted to slow down, wait on the Lord, and really listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us at this time. We also really wanted to listen to one another.
God is more interested in who we are becoming than in what we can do for him. Yet as we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus - what we do for him becomes even more fruitful.
Discernment together as leaders takes us beyond the personal to an increasing capacity to 'see' what God is up to in the place we are called to lead. It calls us to be courageous in seeking the will of God and then making decisions that are responsive to that will as it unfolds in front of us. There is a great deal of biblical precedent for discernment together as leaders. Acts 6:1-7 Ruth Haley Barton, Pursuing God’s will Together
We took a deep dive into John 10:1-11 together - asking God to show us what he is inviting each of us into in this season.
Over supper we each shared our personal stories of faith with one another - what a wonderful way to build relationships of compassion and trust!
We ended the evening with a session called ‘naming & reframing’ in which we shared some of the things that we lament in our current life. Lament is a form of prayer that talks with God about our pain and leads us to deeper trust in God. We brought our laments before God in a time of prayer.
On Saturday we started with quiet reflection time alone looking again at John 10, and just listening to God. We also wrote our own lament Psalms and then shared them with the group. We also spent time in worship together. The following was written at the retreat...
Recognising the significance of ‘last words’ - we spent time in groups unpacking the last words of Jesus from Matthew 28 and Acts 1, especially asking the questions: What does Jesus ask of us, his disciples? And what does Jesus promise to us, his disciples? This speaks to what Jesus has already spoken to us - and raises the question - are we obedient in this?
Lastly we prayed in our groups for the Lord to show us what he is calling us to take notice of from the above Scriptures - as they relate to the life of St John’s. These begin to give us a picture of where the Lord may be leading us in 2024.
Thank you to all who took part in the retreat and for those who were praying for us.