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Ministry Experiences

Creative cohort

In early May, our Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Leadership Cohort had a culmination of a year-long program at a retreat in the Chicago area. The retreat was focused on creativity as well as strategic planning and partnerships. It was a blast!

All year, we have looked together at what it means to lead pastorally, biblically and practically. Now it was a time to do some things that we could not do long-distance… like an egg-drop exercise!

People were split up into teams and each given a different sack of materials. They had 20 minutes to exercise their creativity to figure out how to build something to protect their egg from a second-story drop.

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The twist to this common team exercise was, about 5 minutes in, I walked around taking things away and throwing new things on the table. This added a level of urgency and need to rethink their solution.

Then came the moment of truth as the contraptions were tossed onto concrete below! The solutions were very creative. Anything from a box with a newspaper parachute…

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To a mummy-like wrapping…

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…and a soda bottle with a balloon.

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Some were super elaborate…

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…and others super simple.

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It was always cause for rejoicing when an egg made it…

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…but other times the egg did not fare so well.

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It was fun debriefing the parallels to ministry too. Ministry requires using what God gives you… some are given more, some are given less. Leadership crises benefit from creative thinking and working together as a team.

In the evening, we went out for a fun activity bowling.

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Lots of fun and celebration!

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I was not surprised to discover I am terrible at bowling. I also discovered that I always managed to toss the ball so it would go straight until the last 5 feet and then suddenly hook to the left at an angle. No idea what I was doing, but it was pretty consistent.

After that, we went out for frozen custard. It was my first time… quite yummy!

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The cool thing about this retreat was that a large part of it was actually taught by the participants. They took a few weeks working together on group presentations to teach each other how to do things like strategic planning and partnerships. Groups were very creative in their approaches. I love this shot of the moment where people had to write notes on their planes and toss them in the air.

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This is a perfect demonstration of creativity. Kirsten and Becky made these entire out of materials that were on hand… paper cups and pipe cleaners from the egg-drop exercise, tissue and post-it notes!

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These flowers served as centerpieces for the World Cafe process. We sat around tables and talked about ideas and wrote things down in different colored markers.

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Lots of notes and markings were posted on the wall for people to review.

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We learned about appreciative inquiry as well.

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Lots of hands-on participation during this retreat!

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The groups I worked with presented on how to develop partnerships with U.S.-based organizations and international organizations. The presentations had a skit component, biblical reflection, and practical teaching. They did a great job!

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I do have to give props to one group, which was so challenging trying to get conference calls together. One call we had one person on the east coast, one in the midwest, one in the west coast, one in Thailand, and one in Nepal! I think one person had to get up at four in the morning!

What do you do when you can’t find a keyboard stand? This was a creative solution! It totally worked!

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It was a highlight for me this year to interact with such an awesome group of pastors and leaders! Sooo much fun and great learning. Most of all, it was encouraging to be in community with other ministry-minded people with a passion for doing God’s work in their areas of calling. Though we came from all over and were in many different contexts, there was a unity of spirit from our common bond in Christ. Pretty awesome!

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