This week I attended another Missional Leadership Initiative retreat at the Salt Fork State Park lodge near Cambridge, Ohio. This was the third three-day retreat out of six, with Reggie McNeal leading about 40 pastors and leaders from our denomination (plus Tom). I drove this time, in the Focus, and Tom and Steve went with me. Only Tom came home with me, as Steve's wife (who works with Jane) picked him up Wednesday and they left for vacation from there.
We left for the retreat on Sunday (9/19) about 3:45 in the afternoon. It took us 4 hours and 45 minutes, but that included about a 45 minute stop for supper. Note to self: don't stop at the Burger King in Columbus. Geez. Tom waited 25 minutes to get his chicken sandwich and we were about the only people in there. Anyway, we arrived around 8:30 at the lodge. From the lodge entrance to the first turn is 4 miles, then it's another 3 miles after turning. We checked in, and this time I roomed with Tom (last time was with Jim). When we checked in they told us we were supposed to pay for our first night, but we informed them that was not right. They also didn't give us our breakfast coupon. They did give us a free internet code though.
There were actually more other guests there than the previous two times we've been there. The outside pool looked nice, with lots of lounge chairs and whatnot, but apparently closed after Labor Day. It was very nice weather while there - warm during the day, but cool at night. We were in room 226, and our shower had so much water pressure it almost hurt. Man, it was like a fire hose. This is a really nice place though, and the ladies that serve our food are superb.
Monday morning I slept in until 7, then Tom and I ate breakfast at the lodge restaurant (someone slid our coupons under the door during the night). I had 2 pancakes and several cups of coffee. Later I went on a walk with Steve down by the cabins. The retreat began with a lunch at noon, then we had devotions and prayer time at 1, followed by: Fast-Fire Updates (we each had to share 2 new metrics we've implemented since May), a general session on 'Spiritual Preparation', Dinner at 6:30, and a cohort exercise "Seeing Our City Like A Medieval" until 9 pm. We had to draw pictures. I was really tired and was having allergy/sinus issues. We also got our books for the next reading assignment: Neil Cole's 'Organic Leadership.' During the afternoon break I went on a walk with Eddie.
I got up at 6:30 and took a shower. Listened to Neil Young's new cd preview (thanks Joan). The day began with a group breakfast at 8 am, then started in with devotions at 9. Then we had a session on "Tips for Transition", break, a cohort exercise on Transition (I was not in a very good mood during this), lunch at noon, a session on "people-development culture", a group exercise on Scenario Building, dinner at 6:30, and a group exercise "Scorecarding for People Development" until 9 pm. I sat around and chatted with some other folks until 11 pm or so. During the afternoon break (3-6:30) I went into town with Eddie, then tried to take a brief nap before supper, but there was a group who had a dunk tank right outside our room. My head finally started to feel a little better in the late afternoon.
I got up around 6 or 6:30 and took a walk. I like seeing the deer out early in the morning. After that I took a shower and packed. Once again we had group breakfast at 8 am followed by devotions at 9. At 9:30 was a group reporting on the previous night's exercise, then a session on Leading from Strengths, then a personal exercise where we had to create a 4-week scenario of a more aggressive people-development agenda for ourselves and see what does and does not show up on our personal calendar, as well as the church calender, related to our strengths and with an external focus. This is what we'll be working on in our cohorts over the next few months. Then we wrapped things up and we got a box lunch at noon. Tom and I stayed and ate with a few other people, but a lot of folks headed out.
We started for home around 12:30 I'd say. I think we stopped in Zanesville, Ohio or somewhere and got gas. I didn't want to have to worry about running out. That was the only stop we made though, and we made it home in about 4 hours and 15 minutes. It was kinda nice to process things with Tom on the way home.
Overall it was a good time. I really enjoy these types of things - it fits with my strengths (restorative, empathy, deliberative, connectedness, and intellection). I think it took me a day to adjust to all the trees and outdoors stuff, but after that first night we decided to just turn off the air and fan at night and I started to feel a little better. I was glad I brought warm clothes though, because even though it was hot outside (upper 80's), it was kind of cool inside - at least I thought so. I may or may not post my notes eventually. I probably should, because I just scribbled them down on the hotel writing pad; but I'm just not feeling real talkative at the moment. There was a lot on my mind when I left for the retreat, and there's even more there now. We'll see.
Peace out; and in.