Bishop’s Retreat Learnings

At the beginning of this week, we arrived at the Bishop’s Retreat at the Willow Valley Resort in Lancaster, PA. While there, we witnessed the history-making inauguration as a group by way of the TV. And we also experienced some great teaching by Tex Sample, focusing on telling the Story.

Here are some quotes and/or phrases that I wrote down. Some may or may not be exact quotes, and some may be quotes of others. Either way, they’re some of the statements that impacted me …

We are formed by our practices. Tex also talked about this in a message at our 2007 Annual Conference; the statement impacted me then as well, and this was a good reminder. In fact, now that we’re parents, the statement takes on new meaning and importance for us. More on that in a later post.

Perform the biblical text. I just like this phrase. Tex talked a good deal about the importance of the role of living the story in our telling of our stories.

Books. Tex Sample recommended a number of books, including The Fear of Beggars by Kelly S. Johnson, which he recommended that pastors read before preaching their next stewardship series (I just may do that; I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist). A number of other books were also mentioned.

Strategic planning doesn’t work in oral cultures. This was new information for me, so I’ll have to chew on it for a while to consider the implications. I think Tex was talking about the corporate type of strategic planning that is understood as a management type of activity which is viewed with suspicion by the workers. Story was highlighted as a good approach, particularly in those settings. I’d suggest, though, that story is a good approach in any setting. That’s where an approach like appreciative inquiry (which we’ve written about before) can be very helpful.

Formation of a people/culture — long process of handing down and shaping its key practices. This statement caught my attention because my doctoral dissertation dealt with shaping culture. It’s a reminder that change and shaping (church) culture doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a long process. But it’s a process of handing down and shaping key practices. Transformational leadership, the kind of leadership that leads change, begins with being a catalyst for change in people lives by shaping the everyday practices of people.

Well, it was a good, though fast, couple of days. It was a good retreat, although Ethan certainly changed the dynamic of “retreat” for us. He was in child care for the four sessions, but the last three times, he cried (30 seconds, 20 minutes, and 5 minutes; that’s quite a range) when we (or Joleen) dropped him off with people he didn’t really know in a strange room. Nights were okay (although Ethan was much fussier than normal at bedtime and went to bed late each night). Tonight, our first night back at home, though, Ethan went to bed/sleep perfectly.

We’re grateful for our experience and the opportunity for growth at this year’s Bishop’s Retreat!

2 thoughts on “Bishop’s Retreat Learnings”

  1. John, I’m not really sure what Tex Sample intended, but I mentioned Appreciative Inquiry as a story-based method. if you haven’t already done so, see my post on appreciative inquiry (AI).

    I haven’t done AI in a local church setting yet (only as a research method), but the idea is to conduct AI interviews in order to collect stories. Then, out of those stories, seek to discover the “life-giving forces” of the church.

    From there, you’d want to develop action steps (i.e. plans) that naturally build on the life-giving forces that are already there.

    I am planning to use AI as a method in the not-too-distant future and will write more about it then; hopefully that will be more helpful.


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