“Jesus is probably not impressed with what ministry is doing to your relationship with Him,” said Kenny Conley, a children’s speaker at Camp Siloam. Kenny was teaching a group of children’s leaders. His statement was one that I will never forget. I believe in the power of personal retreat. That is part of why I am in camp ministry. I believe in the power of prayer to change things. Yet, I do not take the time to withdraw from the task of ministry and spend time with the Father.
Luke 5:6 indicates that frequently when Jesus was pressed in on all sides by the needs of people, He pulled away to the wilderness to be alone with the Father in prayer. Many of us (myself included) practice prayer less than we should, trust in the power of prayerless than we should and few of us take time to remove ourselves physically from the busyness of ministry to spend time with the Father.
COVID has put ministry leaders in crisis mode. It has demanded more of leaders than many of us have ever experienced. People have needs. Ministry staff have re-evaluated their call and have moved. You are concerned about the future of your church. The tasks and decisions seem to have doubled. If you are a task-driven personality, then it is easy to justify “holy work” over the divine relationship you have.
I, personally, need to be reminded regularly of the importance of my divine relationship with the Father over task. Jesus told a frustrated Martha, who was complaining about “all of the tasks of ministry,” that there is only “one thing necessary” and Mary had chosen what is the good part. (Luke10:38-42) Sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him is the one necessary thing! Yet, in ministry, it is so easy when we are doing the work of Jesus, to make excuses for not doing the one thing Jesus says is necessary.
Perhaps, like me, you have been on your knees asking God to intercede on behalf of His ministry at your church. While I have fixed my eyes on Jesus for Camp Siloam and for others, I have not made time to just sit and enjoy His presence. This is the “one necessary thing,” your relationship with Jesus. What if you gave yourself the gift of time with the Lord at the end of this crisis? What if you gave your pastor (or a member of your pastoral team) the gift of time alone with the Lord? Many people need someone to give them permission to take that time. Would you do that for your pastor? As this crisis seems to be receding, what do you need to do to be refreshed? When was the last time you had significant time alone with your Heavenly Father?
On May 3-5 and May 5-7, I invite you to join me in (or send a member of your pastoral team to) a 3-day prayer retreat that is unlike any other to which you have been. The retreat is called “Deepen.” Dr. Walter Norvell, Associate Professor of Christian Ministries at Williams Baptist University is going to lead us in what I can best describe as “choreographed time with the Father.” This retreat is not lecture and learning. It is about you and your time with God. This event is an individual, personal retreat designed specifically for men to have a time of refreshment and renewal through prayer. Dr. Norvell will give a 15-minute prayer prompt, then participants in the prayer retreat will spend the next 45 minutes to 2 hours in prayer, alone with the Lord.
This sequence is repeated throughout the retreat. You will join up to 20 other individuals in the retreat. This round of retreats is for men only. In the future, we hope to hold this retreat for women as well. Camp Siloam will provide all of the meals (if you are not fasting) and housing. We have eight private rooms set up as hotel rooms for the first eight guests. We have 12 other private rooms with bunk beds (for a more monastic type of experience). The cost is $149. The registration deadline is April 27th. To register for deepen go to www.campsiloam.com/groups/deepen.