Over the weekend of 31 August – 2 September, Converge International Fellowship, Darmstadt, Germany, hosted a church retreat at the Lachener Gästehäuser in Neustadt/Weinstrasse, Germany. Twenty-six people, representing 4 IBC churches attended the retreat, with Nick and Susan Howard (Wiesbaden, Germany) serving as the speaker and praise leader. After a dry, hot summer, the pleasant weekend in the rural wine-region of Germany’s west was a great way to recover, renew, and prepare for the soon-coming autumn season of ministry.
The setting was beautiful, and the fellowship delightful. The focus of the teaching for the weekend was Invest: Long-term Thinking in a Short-term Environment. Nick stressed that it’s easy in an international church to have a short-term mentality. We need to intentionally work at making long-term investments, even if we are only present for a short time. Even short-term members of our congregations can have a positive impact on our long-term vision. Keys to this are to 1. Welcome heartily, 2. Love fully, 3. Engage early, 4. Send joyfully, and 5. Connect continuously.
As is true of most retreats, the relationship building that takes place was just as critical as the formal teaching. Those who attended grew closer to one another as they grew closer to Jesus. Bridges were built between churches and within congregations. The times of formal worship were supplemented by spontaneous praise around the fire, games and activities during the day, and connections made over delicious meals.
Other, future regional gatherings within the IBC are encouraged. If your church already hosts a retreat – why not consider extending an invitation to another congregation – even if it’s some distance away. If there is such gathering in your church – look into beginning a new tradition – and include other congregations for an added blessing!