Sunday, October 17, 2010

retreat: to step back

Retreat: To step back.

No, that's not the real official definition but that's kind of mine that I'm using right now. This weekend our college ministry went on the annual fall retreat to Shepherd of the Ozarks. Marty and I aren't in the college ministry anymore but I lead the girls bible study and we both help out with different things in the ministry so we decided to join them. We didn't go the whole weekend. We just drove up early Saturday morning and came back Saturday night. Even though we weren't there the WHOLE weekend, it was still a very nice break for me.

I got to thinking about the whole concept of taking a trip such as a retreat. MANY churches and other organizations do this. It can seem kind of weird.. to go to a place WAY OUT THERE with absolutely ZERO cell phone reception, no TVs, no cable. But I love it. It literally forces you to step back. You step back in time for sure. [Which makes me think, life before all this technology seems SO much more peaceful.] But, it also forces me to step back mentally. Without all the technological distractions, it literally allows my mind to just  chill out. To rest. And during that chill out and that rest it's like I'm able to just kind of step back for a minute and look at my life in a way that I am not really able to during the normal rush of life.

While spending the day there yesterday I realized a few things, but the one thing that keeps sticking out to me is this: I seriously LOVE lifestyle ministry. Not the religious kind of ministry. Not the paperwork kind (although I do know its importance). Just ministry by doing life with people. I love just living-- and through living-- encouraging, building relationships, teaching, nurturing, discipling. I absolutely love being around people and just getting to know people more, hearing their stories, learning what they like, etc. I love it. I love teaching them as they teach me at the same time. I love experiencing things together. I love discovering truths together. And the more I fall in love with this, the more I am realizing that this is so much how Jesus ministered. I've found lately that THIS is what's important. So much more important than preparing the perfect lesson for Wednesday night or creating the most enticing video to start off a night or putting together the most appealing set list for the band or any of those things. They're important, sure, and should be given time and effort... but they're not what matters most.

It's the time to just talk, or better yet, listen. Time to joke around and laugh. Time to eat together. Time to visit each other in our homes. Time to just hold a tearful hand. Time to just have a conversation and hear a person's story. These are the things that matter. These are the moments that will teach the most and encourage the most. THIS is the type of ministry I want to be part of. The kind that just happens when life happens. And if THIS part of ministry EVER gets put behind the "other" parts of ministry, that's when I'll know I'm in the wrong place. That's when I'll need a big check-up. That's when it will have become a religious practice. Or even worse, just simply my job.

This was a GREAT Saturday. It was LONG and felt more like 2 or 3 days, but it was so worth it.

A few pics to capture the day:

The drive up there was just GORGEOUS! There's nothing like the Ozarks in October. 

When we first got there, we had to stop because there was a DONKEY in the middle of the road! It wouldn't move! It let us pet it and everything.

I LOVE THESE GIRLS! This picture is a shining example of the style of ministry I'm talking about. SO MUCH ministry has happened in these relationships. 

And we're off on the hike. 

:) Love that man. And if you're wondering about my outfit, well let me just tell you. I got there in jeans and was NOT even thinking about hiking clothes. I didn't bring any extra clothes so I borrowed everything! The shorts look a little ridiculous because they were huge! But thats ok. We had fun "dressing me." It was an ordeal. 

Some of the girls from the hike. Love them!

This basically sums up my whole hiking experience. Helping Katie Martin. The girl was HILARIOUS. 

Wow, God. Just wow. 

At the top of the caves.

After the hike... heading to the petting zoo.

 It's just not a real retreat without a little fire!

That's about all for now! Post coming very soon in honor of one my FAVORITE people of ALL time! Have a great day! 


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