On July 30, 2017, in place of the homily, Father Chad Jarnagin and three vestry members addressed Luminous Parish for their first inaugural “State of the Church.” They talked about where the congregation has been, what they are currently doing, and where they are headed next.
“Trying out this format, having our church address during the homily, kept us on point,” explained Jarnagin+. “Before we started, we had the prayers of the people, the confession, and the ministry of the word.”
“Talking about the business of the church is a holy thing, and it made sense for us to do so in the context of our Sunday worship,” continued Jarnagin+. “After our address, we all came together to the Eucharistic table to celebrate God’s faithfulness and His vision for the future.”
The address had been months in the works, driven in part by a leadership retreat in June. During the retreat, Father Chad, members of the Vestry, two staff members, and some outside council took some time away to pray, dream, and discuss where the Lord might be leading Luminous.
We recently sat down with Jarnagin+ to learn more about the structure and the outcomes of the day-long retreat, and the importance of getting away in order to move forward.
What was the heart behind the retreat?
Our leadership retreat helped us make time and space to dream together and focus. Our leadership mantra is “Cultivate, Communicate, and Care”. On my heart were questions like: how do we continue to embody a work of the people? How do we include people in that? How do we continually identify leaders and pour into them? How do we help people on the fringes lean in? During our retreat we set aside a special time to be able to ask those big questions.
I believe the Spirit is at work during these times of dreaming and planning. He is the one prompting us, guiding us. We believe that as we are asking these questions and making these plans, we are communing with the Spirit. Of course we put things on paper with a posture of flexibility, giving ourselves margin to go and do new things.
Another reason for the retreat is to care for the people who make “it” happen. In addition to prayer, planning, and dreaming together, we include some soul care for our leaders and some Luminous culture care.
Who came to the retreat?
Our vestry, which is five people, and two of our staff members. In the afternoon I also invited some outside people. We keep it pretty small on purpose, allowing for deeper discussion.
What was the format?
We started the day out with morning prayer. From there, we moved into a “Dream and scheme session” with the staff. We looked one, three, and five years ahead and asked ourselves “what do we need to do now in order to be ready to do something in three months or three years?”
After that, we invited the vestry to join us for a 10-3-1 session. During this exercise you identify ten things that are important to you. Then you boil it down to the three most important things. Finally, you agree on the one thing you are going to do tomorrow.
We started off the session by making our 10-3-1 list. We also ended with it, having erased what we wrote down the first time to see if anything had changed.
After the morning session we all took a deep breath and had lunch.
After lunch we invited two of our vestry members to stay and allowed other vestry members to go. Additionally, I invited other leaders to come in as a third party. We spent the afternoon looking at fragments of things that were more practical. We talked about our beer and theology night, Veritas thinking classes, our rotation of celebrants, and Luminous culture care.
What were your findings from the retreat?
During our dream and scheme session we talked about a potential move to Sunday morning and what that would take. We also talked about the direction of Luminous Kids ministry.
The move to Sunday morning is still something we are praying through together. It would require us moving locations, and we’ve already prayerfully declined an option that presented itself. We also are asking the Lord to show us if we should continue where we are, offering the only Evensong service that I am aware of in our area.
What from the retreat did you talk about during the July 30 church service?
We started by celebrating what has happened over our first year: baptisms, confirmations, classes, catechism, and studies. We also celebrated the highlights of ministry and the organizations we’ve supported financially and with our time.
We then talked about our current state of operation, formation, and ministry. Specifically, we spoke about how we can give ourselves margin, individually and collectively, especially as we head into the new school year and schedules start getting full.
And of course we talked about the future, including the potential move to holding our church service on Sunday morning, as well as the reality of our Sunday evening expression.
When will you do your next retreat?
Our aim is to do these retreats a couple of times a year. We keep them short, just a day, so we don’t have to worry about an overnight stay. We try to keep them low maintenance with high impact.
We are hoping to do our next retreat towards the end of the year, with more of a focus on spiritual development than planning. We’ll do another big planning retreat next Spring, similar to the one we did in June.