A couple years ago we decided to host an annual “staff camp” that allows a few of us to get away for a night or two and spend some time talking about our youth ministry. It has now become an annual event, and each year brings lots of memories and definitely stands as a “remember when” kind of moment. All of these happen every year, some years some more than others, but in broad strokes here’s what we set out to accomplish in our time together:

This is a time of just thinking back through the year and telling stories that happened through the course of the ministry. Usually there are some funny stories in his part, and some tears when a particular memory strikes a chord. Pausing to reflect is a huge key here – if we continue to go, go, go – and even grow, grow, grow – we lose the heart behind what God is doing and can become gears in a machine churning out a product. Reflection brings us all back to the heart of why we do what we do.

This is a time to talk about specific people – we think about each other, strengths and successes of the past year. Usually some funny stories come out of this time as well, as well as life-giving words of kindness as we build each other up.

We haven’t had to do this too often, but from time to time a team-wide dysfunction creeps to the surface. I would always lean toward individual discipline as needed continually, but when something affects everyone or everyone is participating, a time to bring it out into the light is wise. This is usually brief and direct if it is indeed necessary.

As the ministry changes, shifts in focus or adapting to growth – we may have to move some players around. I try to save any significant team changes for this meeting, though it isn’t always possible. Team changes seen out of context are often a cause of team conflict and strife, changes made in the backdrop of this annual vision usually accepted far more quickly because one can easily see the big picture.

This is where it all comes together – we’ve celebrated where we’ve been and built each other up. We’ve gone after any team-wide course corrections and set up the infrastructure to build on where we think God is taking us in the coming year. And then we put it all out there – where are we headed for the year – what are our goals – what is success for our ministry until we sit around the cabin next year?

Then we pray about it, eat, and get back to work!