During a particularly pressing season of ministry, Jesus invited His disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

I have not always executed this command well, and at times I have even felt guilty when I pulled away from my a normal schedule. But the longer I am in ministry, the more importance I see in taking some time to come apart to pray and reflect for the sake of the Lord’s work.

The ministry, like any other endeavor, should be a cycle that involves engaging in activity followed by time to replenish before engaging again.

For twenty-seven years, I have wanted to take our pastoral staff to our family farm in Colorado—just for a time of replenishing and preparing for the next season of ministry. Although we annually conduct an all-staff retreat and from time to time I’ve had the privilege of being with one or two of our staff men for a season of prayer, I’ve never been able to take the pastoral team there.

Last week, however, after the final night of our missions conference, it was a great blessing to travel with the twelve men on our pastoral staff to the family farm. We climbed into a couple of vans and drove across the desert through the wee hours of the morning for this Colorado retreat.

I’m so thankful to the Lord for the salvation of my grandparents and many of my relatives back in Colorado. The family farm has always been a place of rest to my soul, and I was glad to share that with the men on staff. Some of the benefits of the Leadership retreat that were a help beyond measure are as follows:

1.    Prayer

Being on a canyon rim or in the mountains always provides an ideal setting for prayer. It was a blessing to share the prayer requests and needs from our personal lives and our families as well as our church family. And it was a blessing to then spend significant amounts of time in prayer together.

2.    Understanding

In the process of team development, I really believe it is important that we understand our fellow team members and take time to just simply get to know them better. As we shared testimonies around the campfire, it became obvious to me that each of these men have their own hurts, needs, and challenges. They also have strengths, opportunities, and privileges to serve the Lord. In our case, the Lord has taken men from different states, countries, and family backgrounds and brought us together for the purpose of serving the body at Lancaster Baptist Church. I believe the testimony times helped us to understand how to better work together as a team.

3.    Encouragement

I believe each of our men were greatly encouraged by the times in prayer, personal devotions, and fellowship. Serving in a fast-paced ministry can easily compete with the necessity of encouragement and fellowship one with another. It was a tremendous blessing just to be able to encourage each other in the ministry.

4.    Education and Evaluation

My uncle, Steve Chappell, shared lessons with us from 1 Peter 5. Through the perspective of his years of observation as a Christian layman, he pointed out the kinds of pastors and staff that have been greatly blessed. He challenged us to walk humbly before the Lord. He warned us that many men have failed in ministry simply because of being filled with pride. He shared testimony of church leaders who have been a blessing in his life because during seasons of difficulty they allowed the Holy Spirit to humble them…and then greatly use them in the future. My uncle is a godly man, and his teaching was refreshing to my spirit.

Additionally, this retreat provided a time for me to evaluate some of our younger and newer staff and learn how to mentor and help them be more effective. Already since the retreat, I have had a few private moments to encourage our new staff and help them reach their potential.

5.    Planning

Along our journey together, we were able to take out the calendar for the new year and plan some of the many upcoming events. Through prayerful scrutiny of the calendar, we were also able to pull some events off.  It is our desire that we would not simply have a busy church but that we would have an effective church. One of the challenges of an older church is trying to keep things simple as we endeavor to please our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am thankful to the Lord for the great team of men He has assembled here. Please continue to pray for us that we might lift up the name of Jesus in the days ahead.

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