I am taking a few days this week up north doing some planning. I have done this annually for the past several decades. When I was serving in the local church I spent these days doing sermon planning for the year ahead. Now I get ready for Church Conference season and try to take a balcony view of the District and Conference related to my role as Missional Strategist.
This planning time is a week I look forward to every year. I anticipate the opportunity to take these days, step back and look to what’s next. I like it partly because I get to spend a week by a lake and enjoy the beauty of the area around Traverse City. But more than that, it really helps me move beyond the moment and the urgency of the immediate, to both practically plan and dream.
I wanted to write about this time I take away every year because as I talk with pastors I know that some never take time to step back and get a balcony view. They never take time to get away from the regular daily activities to think deeply, to pray, to listen and to breathe. And my encouragement to pastors, and really to all of us, is to take the time.
For pastors, I believe doing some kind of sermon planning retreat is essential. Folks do it in different ways. Some take a week once a year, others take a few days every few months, some work with worship teams and others are on their own. And I’m not suggesting that my way is the best way, but my belief is that we need to do it some way.
Beyond the sermon creators among us, I think all of us need time away. I would invite all of us to consider taking time at least once a year to retreat, to create space to hear from God, to connect with God. If you haven’t had a practice of taking this time in your life, start with a day, start with an afternoon. My suspicion is this time away will become more and more important to you, and something you eagerly anticipate!
Friends there is so much more I could say about this and I’d say more but I’m ready to get back to my time away!