Monday, July 28, 2014

family retreat to draft a mission/purpose statement

Thanks to Kurt Sauder and Jeff Heisler who gave me a bunch of good ideas for setting this up; to Tonia for helping think things through (and of course, for being my wife, partner in parenting, and best friend!); and to Joe Donaldson for talking me through some of the pros and cons of approaching this potential project!

A few caveats before we get going: 
1.) Failing to do this will not make you a loser. Doing this will not make you a winner; in fact, an eagerness to do this may be a bad sign. ;-)
2.) As a corollary to #1, you should feel neither inordinate pride nor wild guilt if you do not choose to make this investment. 
3.) This is not a panacea, but it may have an important impact on your family. Don't trivilaize it, but set your expectations appropriately. 
4.) We have four boys, ages 9-15. It worked pretty well and they liked "it" more than I guessed. But it was far from silky smooth. Results with your family-- particularly given different ages and genders-- may vary. 

A few things for planning your retreat...
1.) Consider going somewhere-- at least to a local park during the day or overnight at a hotel.
2.) Carefully consider what your spouse and children can handle.
3.) Consider how long you want this to run. At minimum, you're probably looking at five or six hours. (That's what we did.) But you could easily expand the material and/or stretch out the breaks to an entire weekend.
4.) Remember to take a lot of breaks and have a lot of active fun and good food.
5.) Consider a devotional or two (or more, if you make this a full weekend). You also have (easy) opportunities for Bible study incorporated within the exercises and/or separately within times for reflection.
6.) Bring a dry-erase board, easel, or poster board and markers-- to write stuff when you're working as a group. Bring notebooks, journals or at least loose-leaf paper for individuals to write down their goals.

Ground Rules
You'll probably want to lay out ground rules for discussion. You can discuss them briefly-- perhaps over breakfast or in the car on the way to a destination. Or you could spend more time on them, treating them as a good opportunity for a self-contained Bible study. 
Here's what we used:
a.) Be quiet, listen and pay attention to others when speaking (Jas 1:19-21)
b.) Don’t be critical—verbally or non-verbally; build others up (Eph 4:29)
c.) Don’t complain (Phil 2:14-18)
d.) Serve others; help with lunch and packing/unpacking the van (Gal 5:13)
e.) Be honest with yourself and us
f.) Enjoy yourself; have fun!

Sessions (combine these or do them separately as you see fit):
1.) Provide an overview of the retreat, including an introduction to the purpose of a (family) purpose statement

2.) Brainstorming session on the characteristics and priorities of Jesus and His disciples.

3.) Summarize the brainstorming notes into a few phrases on key family’s values and priorities.
-After #2 and/or #3, during a break, you'll want to summarize / tighten / organize the messy stuff you've brainstormed.

4.) Provide examples of mission/purpose statement from businesses and ministries. Encourage them to guess which company and to describe the mission statement, comparing and contrasting with others. Here's what we used (with key phrases underlined):

a.) Ford: We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.

b.) Harley-Davidson: We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.
--At this point, we compared Ford and Lamborghini.

c.) Nike: To bring Inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
--We compared Nike to Starters and NuBalance.

d.) Disney: We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere.

e.) Dollar General: Serving Others-- For Customers, A Better Life; For Shareholders, A Superior Return; For Employees, Respect and Opportunity

f.) Southeast Christian Church: Connecting people to Jesus and one another

g.) Thoroughly Equipped / DC: To create an army of disciple-makers for the Kingdom

5.) Discuss the purposes and potential purpose statements of key Biblical figures:
a.) OT: Noah, Abraham (Gen 12:1-3), Moses, Esther (4:16)

b.) NT: John the Baptist (Jn 1:23), Paul (Acts 13:46-48)

c.) Jesus: Note His sacrifice/resurrection AND His ministry/life. (Without the latter, He could have shown up for a week, gotten on the Cross, defeated death, etc. Instead, he showed us how to live as well, following God’s will, empowered by Spirit, equipping disciples, etc.)

6.) Spouses discuss their purposes—individually and within marriage.

7.) All individuals take (quiet) time to reflect and journal on their goals for the upcoming year-- as an individual. 
-Provide an example on the board-- or provide prepared sheets-- with a list of goal types: spiritual/church; school/intellectual; work/household (for adults); money; family/home; friends.

A few important things to discuss here-- to make this a (far) more useful exercise:
a.) Goals are implied by the calls to "grow" and mature (Colossians 2:6-7), progress in our faith (I Timothy 4:15-16), and move from milk to meat (Hebrews 5:13-14).
b.) Goals should be specific and measurable. Provide bad and good examples. (This can be challenging for kids!) 
c.) Goals can be a combination of continuing good things and starting new good things. Sometimes, people imagine that they can only use brand new things to accomplish. Again, provide examples.

8.) Discuss your purpose and goals as a family-- and then, refine your family purpose/mission statement.
You may well need to give it more work-- either in an additional session or days later. We've already edited ours again-- and it still may need some work.

Our tentative plan is to frame each person's goals, putting those around the family's (framed) mission statement. If so, and assuming we do something similar in future years, we can keep each year's goals within the frame as a record/memorial.

Please share your experiences here. Share suggested verses, exercises, ideas, etc. This is, very much, a work in progress. And I will edit as I get feedback. Thanks!


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