It’s not exactly a straightforward process when you’re trying to focus on a single theme for a Men’s Retreat—especially when your planning team has eight people, ranging in age from 33 to 83, who are all looking to ask big questions about the evolution of the church today and in the future.
At first, we spent some time talking through questions about what worship communities might be like a half-century from now:
- Will denominations even matter?
- Will mid-size congregations still exist?
- Will we see an explosion of satellite campuses and microchurches?
- Will we find a way to bridge our divisions, or will we become even more divided?
But we eventually decided that envisioning change over a 50-year span would be cloudy, at best—even for those among us who can clearly remember what the church was like back in 1973. Instead, our focus narrowed on the next 20 years, a generation from now.
That led to a lot of insight about how different generations can learn from each other. The Psalmist and the hymn writers say that “one generation calls to the next,” but such intergenerational understanding needs to be multi-directional.
“Churches often seem to be trying to drive while only looking in the rearview mirror,” said Dan Voigt, the Presbyterian pastor we’ve asked to be our guest speaker at the retreat. “That’s not the best way to get somewhere.”
Every generation has something unique to teach–whether that's in terms of traditional mentoring (say, Gen Xers helping Zoomers prepare for what next stages of life are coming) or so-called “reverse mentoring” (say, Gen Alpha explaining to Boomers how best to stay involved with their grandkids). For the church to remain vibrant in the future, we need it to be a vibrant worshiping community in the present.
That’s when we realized we were really talking about how to build a church to last … how to build a faith community to last … how to build a broader spirituality that will outlast our short lives and continue to connect us as part of God’s grander plan.
Thus, this year’s Men’s Retreat (back after a two-year hiatus) will focus on “Building Spirituality to Last.” And we invite all friends and members of the broader St. Andrew community to join us on Saturday March 4 for a time of good food, spiritual insight, intergenerational dialogue, and a lot of fun.
— Jeff Charis-Carlson, director of communications and media ministries