I help organise the annual WA Baptist Pastors Conference.
I was reflecting on over 13 years of helping organise this conference. There used to be under 70 Pastors and leaders who attended when I first started. It was a conference where the worship team was assembled from whoever rocked up to conference. Different Pastors may present a paper they had worked on. The food was very ordinary and the organisation was adequate.
This year we had over 248 delegates attend over the three days of conference. The services were planned to the minute with great production values and elements designed to inspire, challenge and encourage. Our main speaker was Pastor Stu Cameron who heads up Willow Creek in Australia and is the Senior Pastor at New Life Church on the Gold Coast.
We had as a session speaker Karen Siggins who is the Senior Pastor at Lesmurdie Baptist Church. She challenged us to listen for the heartbeat of God, to love God, to love others. It was a memorable message from a skilled communicator.
Mark Wilson is our Baptist Director of Ministries in WA and sets the vision for the retreat. He has brought a wonderful culture into our movement and his session is always a highlight.
It is a challenge to have something which goes very well. Whenever something is effective and significant, different people want to hitch their wagon to the success. Keeping the main thing the main thing is always a struggle with any event such as this. My heart is and has been for Pastors. A few years back I received a prophesy which in essence said that encouraging Church Pastors was something God had for me. A number of different people and situations have confirmed this for me. So I see the Annual Baptist Pastoral Retreat in this light. It is for the encouragement and blessing of Pastors. That is its core value, and something I jealously guard.
Its also a wonderful event for developing team and many of the churches bring along their whole team. Its fun, encouraging and there is lots of space for team bonding and a great laugh.
I also see Retreat as a space for creativity and new ideas to be given space. For different churches to see what works and what is effective in the area of worship and the arts. The Worship Team for retreat were in planning for about 8 months prior to retreat. Yet there is also space for spontaneity and last minute changes. If you plan well, you can respond well.
Us pastors have a difficult role at times. We also have a joyous role at times. It is an incredible privilege, blessing and responsibility. All at the same time! Our Retreat reflects that. Perhaps the best part is in having the opportunity to share a meal, share a table, share a laugh, share a prayer, share a warm moment. To be together. Its a strange and unique journey at times. So the Baptist Pastoral Retreat is a precious time.