The Central Focus retreat for Charis Fellowship pastors and ministry leaders began this afternoon at Deer Creek Lodge in Mount Sterling, Ohio.
Sessions are being led by Phil Sparling, executive director of the Charis Fellowship and senior pastor at Auburn Grace Community Church, Auburn, Calif. He is sharing thoughts about biblical relationship.
In the first session, he noted that ministry relationships flow back and forth with other Charis leaders, both in churches and organizations. He referenced Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, where it notes that two are better than one. You get a better return for labor, one will lift up a companion, and each will keep the other spiritually warm.
After dinner, he talked about the Charis dance, particularly when it comes to leader-to-leader relationships. The word Charis was used in Greek and Roman cultures before the time of Jesus and involved a patron or benefactor who would give Charis away with no strings attached, a client who was the person in need and should respond to a gift with true humility, and the mediator who would speak to the patron on behalf of the client and would link the two together.
Sparling noted that Paul played on this motif of the Charis dance when he identified God as the benefactor and Jesus as the mediator, making us the client.
“Everything we’ve been given is to be given away,” Sparling said. “See what God has give you to share.” He stressed that we are all, at times, the client, the mediator, the benefactor. “The dance doesn’t function without all three.”
Worship is led by Jeremy Bury and Isaac Murrell from Marysville Grace Church, Marysville, Ohio.
New this year to the retreat are sessions designed especially for pastor’s wives who attend. This evening, the ladies discussed handling relational conflicts. Viki Rife, executive director of Women of Grace USA, led the discussions. Tomorrow, they will talk about the benefits of the national network found in the Charis Fellowship.
The retreat continues through Wednesday morning. Tomorrow’s sessions will focus on church-to-church relationships, multi-ethnic relationships, and regional and national relationships.
To see additional photos from the retreat, see the GraceConnect Facebook page.