My Pastoral Covenant Group met for our annual retreat earlier this week. What a time we had! We came away with a renewed purpose and tools to effectively lead our congregations in developing ministry in a new and exciting way. According to Dr. James P. Bowers, Executive Director, Center for Pentecostal Leadership and Care, this is part of the process that brings “pastors, congregations, and denominational leaders together to support pastoral excellence.”
There are about twenty covenant groups here in Florida, each led by a facilitator chosen by Church of God state staff. Each group consists of between 6 to 10 pastors who are invited to be a part of this phenomenal process. This journey is strictly voluntary; those who choose to participate have found fellowship, training and a sense of belonging many have never experienced.
Our group is beginning Phase 3, Developing Congregational Ministry. It is vitally important to lead our congregations into not only a deeper walk with God, but also direct them in the process of reaching out beyond the walls of the local church. This phase in Pastoral Leadership Development concentrates on bringing each pastor’s church into a covenant relationship and stresses congregational excellence.
The goal of this post is not to give details about the process or journey; rather, it is meant to express the pastors’ enthusiasm about our retreat. Each of us left renewed and filled with high expectations regarding this phase of our journey with the Lord and each other. Our retreat would have just been another few days away from home and sitting around the table without God being in the center of our efforts. Without God directing us, it would be a fruitless endeavor, and would only serve to take up time.
We are determined to help our respective congregations begin to focus on missional needs in our communities and beyond. Each pastor is committed to the prospect of pulling in key leaders in order to facilitate changes which will surely begin to take place. There is an excitement in the air!
Why would we care about developing congregational ministry? Here is a quote from noted author, pastor and teacher Bill Hybels:
There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness. No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.
Source: Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels, Zondervan 2002.
Yes, we had a great time. How was your week?