We have just got back from our annual Upstream team retreat in the small cray-fishing town of Lancelin. (If you aren’t sure what Lancelin is like then just read Dirt Music by Tim Winton and you’ll get it!)
It was a great weekend with the guys and really valuable to hang out, chat and remember who we are.
That might sound like a weird thing to say, but I think sometimes we can forget. In the hubbub of life we can lose the clarity of our sense of identity – the distinctiveness of our calling – and begin to go thru the motions of simply doing church.
I actually believe its as we retell our story to one another that we are forced back to the founding charism and the original ideas that inspired us. I believe part of the function of the leader in new church expressions is to be the one who reminds us of identity – to be the one who says ‘remember why we are doing this?’ and who helps people talk about it. I say “as we retell our story to one another” because I believe we all need to be involved in that remembering and visioning process. As people tell the stories their hope and passion re-ignites and the dream gets reborn.
Over the last few weeks I have been reading Joshua. It starts off interesting and inspiring, becomes deadly boring as they divide up the land and then re-ignites again in Ch 24 where at Shechem Joshua takes time to re-tell the people’s story to them.
It has always struck me that the Hebrew people put a huge emphasis on re-telling stories to one another as a way of remembering, so we made that a part of our weekend. Not only does he re-tell the story of God’s care for them, but he calls them again to reaffirm their commitment to God leading by his own example:
14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
As we caught up on Friday night it was good to reflect on this passage and to take time to tell each other the stories that have brought us hope along the way and to remember that we are part of the ongoing story that Joshua was telling his people.
It was also good to be challenged by his bold words – to ‘throw away our other gods’ and reaffirm our commitment to the one we say we follow. Other ‘gods’ are plentiful for Aussie suburbanites – from wealth to work to family to…
Part of the weekend involved telling our children the story of why we left the hills to come to Brighton. I’m not sure I have ever done this with any sense of intention, but it is my hope that our kids know with clarity that this wasn’t about a seachange, a smaller mortgage or some other reason, but that we came here because there was a sense of God leading us – because there are people here who he is looking to connect with.
And so we come back – refreshed and refocused.
Weekends away are often a chore when you have young kids so to have actually enjoyed it, had space to relax and come back more rested than we left is quite an achievement!