General Council Retreats with Coordinating Leadership Team

Written by SDB General Council

May 22, 2024

Attending church retreats as a teenager created some of my most meaningful memories of my youth. But I always wondered, “Why call it a retreat? Why not an advance?” I later discovered that the purpose of a retreat is to pull back (retreat) from the hectic pace of everyday life to allow time to rest, reflect, and recharge in order to equip and empower us to move forward more effectively. Under the guidance of Executive Director Carl Greene, your General Council and Coordinating Leadership Team “retreated” to the SDB Center in Janesville, WI for the specific purpose of providing space to share our visions for what we believe God wants to do among and through SDBs and to seek greater clarity concerning our Vision Map to ensure that we are all on the same page.

During last year’s Conference Week, Director John Pethtel (Church Development and Pastoral Services) exhorted us to consider the importance of staying aligned with our mission. If your car is out of alignment, the wheels ever-so-subtly pull against each other, not only making the car work harder to get where it is going, but also, over time, wreaking havoc with the tires, fuel efficiency, steering, braking, and even the safety of the vehicle. Similar problems can arise from lack of alignment in an organization, making regular alignment checks crucial to the health of the organization. As leaders in the Conference, part of our responsibility is to continually check our alignment with our Vision Map. One of the keys to remaining effectively aligned is clarity—having a common understanding of what our mission (as expressed in our Vision Map) means so that we can all pull together in the same direction.

Carl invited Rocky Rocholl, President of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, to guide us through the first portion of our weekend journey. Rocky shared part of the story of the FEC, a conference of churches with many similarities to the SDB General Conference, and how God was able to accomplish exciting things through them through clarifying their mission. He then led us through a mission-clarifying process of discussing and identifying: 1) Who we are; 2) Who we want to be; 3) What are our barriers; and 4) How do we get there?

The balance of the weekend was invested in discussing, praying, discussing, reflecting, discussing, and evaluating (did I mention discussing?) the focus of our mission and what true alignment with it might look like. We were privileged to engage in these activities in a variety of locations, including the SDB Center, the gorgeous chapel and museum located at Main Hall on the campus of the former Milton College, and the beauty of God’s creation at Janesville’s Rotary Gardens. We affirmed confidence that our current mission is the correct one for us and look forward to continuing to clarify and align ourselves with that mission in the months and years ahead. We covet your prayers and your input that we, alongside CLT, will be able to lead SDBs well in continuing to equip our churches to actively advance God’s Kingdom together.

We are thrilled at the privilege to continue to serve as your General Council.
Andrew, Ericessen, Erin, Maura and Steve

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