The President’s letter this issue is from Greg Williams, GCI Vice President.
Dear Pastors, Ministry Leaders and Friends,
The four Gospels tell us that Jesus regularly withdrew from the crowds with his inner circle of disciples to relax, recharge, refocus and deepen their relationships. Following the example of our Master, I recently led a two-day retreat with our five GCI-USA Regional Pastors (known affectionately as “the 5 Guys”). We gathered at a cabin near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Instead of following a fixed, demanding agenda focused on strategic planning, our retreat gave us time to deepen our bonds as brothers in Christ, and to revisit and refresh our shared vision for “healthy church” (and, yes, we did discuss some matters related to planning and organization).
In the spirit of “what happens at the cabin stays at the cabin,” I will not share a blow-by-blow account of what happened during our retreat. However, here are three things I learned from the time I spent with my five colleagues:
- They are committed to being team-based. This was seen in how they eagerly deferred to each other as they worked together unloading supplies, preparing meals, and cleaning up. It isn’t that these five men always agree, but through their commitment to Jesus and by his empowerment, they are committed to being the close-knit team that the Holy Spirit has made them. Interesting side note here: though the cabin was equipped with billiards, foosball, table tennis, a pinball machine and other games, the group did not use any of these. All our time was spent talking, laughing, sharing and praying—beginning with breakfast preparation and ending each day with time together around a fire.
- They are devoted promoters of unity. They all strive to be leaders worthy of being followed. As the Holy Spirit creates unity among them as careful stewards and guardians, they work diligently to spread that unity to others (Ephesians 4:1-3).
- They are given to prayer. They don’t limit their prayer to giving thanks at meals and offering opening and closing prayers to bookend meetings. They practice deep intercessory prayer for each other and for the church. The prayers I heard from them expressed high levels of transparency and vulnerability with utter dependence on our Triune God. One of our times of prayer, lasting two hours, brought the healing and assurance we all needed. I do not have words.
Our retreat in the Smoky Mountains was transformational, setting the pace for retreats the 5 Guys will be hosting in 2018 in their respective U.S. regions for pastors and their spouses. I know that the participants in these “cabin retreats” will benefit greatly from their time together (see the report in this issue from RP Paul David Kurts about the two retreats he has already held in his Southeast Region). I’m praying that each retreat will be as life-giving and refreshing as the one I experienced with my dear friends, the 5 Guys.
Retreating together, so we may go forward in Christ’s power!
—Greg Williams, GCI Vice President