SDB Design Sprint Retreat

Written by Carl Greene

April 10, 2024

What is a Design Sprint Retreat? This past weekend, it involved over 20 participants representing 6 Seventh Day Baptist Churches. We gathered in Alfred Station, NY at Camp Harley Sutton and the Alfred Station SDB Church from Friday, April 5th to Sunday, April 7th. And we did stuff.

The Stuff

We all have ministry hurdles and problems. We often focus on our limitations and barriers to living out our ministry calling rather than first embracing our strengths and existing resources. Resources we often miss are available to us. This is where the Design Sprint Retreat comes in.

The Design Sprint uses a design thinking approach to leverage existing assets of a church to address named problems and build generative solutions. The content and activities of the retreat push us to come back to the five traits of flourishing ministries as established by Thriving Congregations: Compelling Clarity, Faithful Agility, Holy Tenacity, Rooted Relationships, and Dynamic Collaboration.

The dynamism of the gathering goes beyond the “what” of excellent content, and highlights the “how” of interactive discussions and activities. We engage in small group activities that kickstart movement toward innovative ministry engagement. We take on Creative Hustle exercises, play the Mission Possible game, and establish goals along with first steps toward those goals for our churches.

The retreat is a spark toward clarity around our ministry calling for this season, and then generating movement toward next steps of what we will be undertaking.

Who Was There?

Participants included: Pastor Ken Chroniger, Keith Barnes, Rachel Treudell, and Madge Kuhn (Alfred Station SDB, Alfred Station NY); Pastor Joshua Michaels, Pastor Matt Olson, and Ellen Olson (Berlin SDB, Berlin NY); Pastor Andrew Camenga, Perry Barbee, and Don Graffius (German SDB Church, Salemville PA); Vincent Langworthy, Josiah Kenyon, and Kent Kenyon (Hebron SDB, Hebron PA); Pastor David Thorngate, Christina Thorngate, and Tim Bancroft (First SDB Church of Genesee, Little Genesee NY); Pastor Darwin Steele (Bell Church, Salemville PA); Carl Greene and Nick Kersten (SDB General Conference; Milton SDB, Milton WI); Chris Aho and Brian Foreman of Thriving Congregations.

The Design Sprint Retreat was led by a team from the Thriving Congregations Initiative: Chris Aho and Brian Foreman. This Lilly Foundation funded ministry is led by Chris Aho of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). CBF’s Thriving Congregation Initiative exists to equip congregational leaders with tools and strategies necessary to move towards transformation and thriving in their unique congregational context.

The weekend was possible thanks to the collaborative generosity of a number of groups that are supportive of SDB church revitalization. The Campbell University Center for Church and Community provided initial grant funding and networking to get this SDB initiative started. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Thriving Congregations Initiative were more than generous in their allocation of resources and time to make the weekend meet its potential. Finally, the SDB Memorial Fund is a tremendous advocate of revitalizing SDB churches and providing resources that make that work thrive.


Want to know more about SDB church revitalization and the SDB Pulse process? Contact SDB Director John Pethtel at Want to know more about the Design Sprint Retreat and how it might apply to your ministry context? Contact Carl at

And, thank you to Camp Harley Sutton and the Alfred Station SDB Church for hosting us!

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