What happens on an ECPC leadership retreat?

Last weekend the pastoral interns, the deacons, and the elders of ECPC traveled to Lincolnton NC for an annual leadership retreat. Here’s what happened:

  1. Within the first few minutes of arriving Jon narrowly escaped a dog attack. For full details contact Jon directly, but suffice it to say – the dog has become wary of unfamiliar humans ever since being quasi-traumatized by the fact that all-of-a-sudden homo-sapiens started wearing masks back in March of 2020.
  2. How do you cure the post-K9-attack-jitters? Riding 4-wheelers and playing cornhole.
  3. How do you ease down from the adrenaline rush of 8 consecutive games of cornhole? Eat shrimp, followed by Parman’s world famous steak and ribs.
  4. But of course, if you eat Parman’s world famous steak and ribs, you will need Bailey to lead you in song immediately following the meal.
  5. And if Bailey is teaching and admonishing you in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God; then you will need to chase it with a dose of 2 Corinthians 11, where you will encounter Paul asking you to bear with him in a little foolishness.
  6. The thing about Paul is that – you can hardly stand the guy, because his pastoral care for you is so severe and intense. Ever since he betrothed you to Jesus, Paul feels a divine jealousy for you! And Paul is worked-up, because he fears that just as Satan deceived Eve, so you are at risk of being led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Paul chastises you (with next to no regard for how his words might feel offensive to you) by saying, “You foolishly tolerate modern notions of ‘the good-life,’ ‘safety,’ and ‘satisfaction’ – when the objective fact is that life to the fullest is found in 1 Timothy 1:15; John 4:29; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 12:9; John 3:14-15; and John 6:29.”
  7. Paul forces you to reckon with the fact that you have shopped around for people who will tell you what you want to hear, and you have elected to follow false apostles, deceitful workmen, and people who disguise themselves as church leaders.
  8. After being pummeled by Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 11 we retire to the fire pit for conversation and stargazing.
  9. The next morning Parman insists that we begin the day by feasting sumptuously upon biscuits and sausage gravy, eggs, bacon, and a platter of sundry fruits.
  10.  But of course, if you submit to Parman’s daybreak agenda, you will need follow-it-up with Bailey leading you in another round of singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.   
  11. And after being admonished in all wisdom by Bailey via song-singing, you are inevitably back in another confrontational conversation with Paul in 2 Corinthians 11.
  12. And Paul is all like, “Even if you think I’m a fool …then you need to accept me as a fool! And if you are convinced that I’m a fool, then I will talk to you like a fool! Because, being wise-in your own eyes, you have a stout track-record of listening to fools! You tolerate slave-masters who devour you, and take advantage of you, and put on airs with you, and strike you in the face …to my shame, I must say, I was too weak to treat you that way!” If this rhetoric seems harsh, snarky, or sarcastic and unhelpful to you, then I would encourage you to talk to Paul directly and hash-out your issues with him personally.
  13. When you confront Paul with your concerns, he will most likely share his deep-seated concerns as well. He’ll probably says something like, “I feel daily pressure on me due to my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weaknesses.”
  14. How did this land with the leadership team of ECPC? We emerged from our imaginative immersion in 2 Corinthians 11 with the following impressions, insights, and action items: What does it mean to ‘boast of the things that show our weaknesses?’ [1] inviting exposure (John 4:29); [2] entering God’s rest (Hebrews 4 and the staggering truth/declaration of Romans 8); [3] embracing the negative ramifications that come with doing ‘the next right thing’ (e.g. when Paul sent ‘2 Corinthians’ he knew that there would certainly be some in the community who would complain against him and accuse him of being manipulative, un-constructive, and/or unloving and harsh toward them); [4] engaging and participating even when feeling weak (e.g. Moses going back to Egypt as an 80 year old man/past-his-prime and still feeling like a failure from his previous attempt at liberating the Hebrews when he was in his prime forty years prior).
  15. After our second heavy-dose of being admonished by Paul we knew it was time for manifest childlikeness, so we did what any group of middle-age men would do, we played knock-out. 5 rounds. Jon dominated, winning 3 of 5 …I don’t want to say it was carry-over adrenaline from the previous day’s near-death-dog-attack, but honestly I can’t think of any other explanation.
  16. Of course, there’s no way to play knock-out and not immediately segue into a skeet shooting competition. And I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way Bailey didn’t win!” And while Bailey shot well, Jon (still riding the adrenaline of the K9 close call choo-choo-train) hit 9 out of 10 and took the skeet-shooting-trophy home alongside his knock-out Stanely Cup.
  17. At this point Jon simply had to be stopped so we collectively decided to dominate him in cornhole for the remainder of the retreat.
  18. There was really nothing left to do besides demolish a platter of Parman’s world-famously delectable jalapeño-bacon grilled cheese sammies.
  19. And as well know, after feasting on JBGCS’s there’s only one thing left to do …drive back to CLT.

The end.