Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day Long Create in Me Retreat

Those of you who read this blog faithfully have read my enthusiastic writing about the Lutheridge retreat, Create in Me. Last year, when my parents attended, my mom was so inspired that she proposed that we create a 1 day version for her women's group at her home church. So that's what we did.

We were supposed to do the retreat on Feb. 7, the day of historic snowstorms in the northeast. So we rescheduled for March 20. It went fantastically well, so I thought I'd post about it, in case it serves as inspiration for your own church. It's amazing what one can do in one day. And this plan would work well for half a day, since we designed it to be a day where people who could only come for half the time could still participate.

We sang a few songs and then did the getting to know you exercise that had people compare themselves to art supplies (see this post for more details).

Then we moved to a Bible study of parables, led by me. I talked about how parables are like poems, making strange connections, making us see the world in a brand new way. I agree with Eugene Peterson: "A parable is not ordinarily used to tell us something new but to get us to notice something that we have overlooked although it has been right there before us for years. Or it is used to get us to take seriously something we have dismissed as unimportant because we have never seen the point of it. Before we know it, we are involved" (Tell It Slant: a Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers, page 19). We had a rollicking discussion of what we know about God and the Kingdom of God (not necessarily the heavenly kingdom, but the one we're creating right here and right now) through the parables. We talked about what the parables teach us about what kind of people we're supposed to be.

The Bible study lasted about an hour. After that, we moved to art stations. Here's where we needed the help of a few others. The quilting group brought quilts for us to tie. They also make fabric pillow hearts to send to the troops, and those hearts needed stuffing, something a beginner can do. We had a table on spiritual journaling led by me. We have a church expert on flower arranging who could join us in the morning, and in the afternoon, we decorated cupcakes. We had a table to make Easter cards to send to missionaries (go here if you'd like to participate--it's easy!).

After about 75 minutes at the art stations, we broke for lunch. We had sandwiches, a fruit platter, and a veggie platter from a local grocery store. We had fairly gourmet sandwiches (meats and cheeses on gourmet flatbread with an olive spread), which was a pleasant surprise. But why should it have been? All the food was delightful. One of the congregational bakers brought cinnamon rolls for the morning--which she baked in the church kitchen, which was right off of the fellowship hall where we met, which meant that we were greeted with delicious cinnamon smells as we arrived.

Then, in the afternoon, we did it all again, plus a closing worship service where we anointed participants' hands with oil.

It all worked so much better than we expected. The participants were eager to have conversation during Bible study (as a seasoned teacher, I was prepared either way--I could talk nonstop or lead a conversation or both). Everyone seemed enthusiastic about the art stations--it's always hard to know in advance what will interest people. Everyone circulated, and no one sat alone at lunch (always a good sign to me). It was a delight.

Would it work at your church? I suspect that it would. I noticed a real hunger for the retreat experience on Saturday. So many of us can't get away to church camps for several days, but we can take a Saturday (or just a Saturday morning) away from our other responsibilities.

Likewise, I noticed a hunger for permission to be creative. Again, so many of us have so many obligations that creative time gets crowded out. It's easier to say, "I have a retreat at church," than it is to say, "Don't bother me for 4 hours while I work on my art."

So many churches focus on the worship service and forget about the need to nourish people in other ways and the need to give people more tools for their daily and weekly spiritual writing. A quarterly retreat held in the fellowship hall, led by lay people, could be just the thing for which congregations have been searching.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Cheers for your creative spirit and leadership! See you at Lutheridge... Laura Mallette