Community and the Church Retreat

God created us to be in Christ-centered community.  From the very beginning, God noted that it was not good for a man to be alone, and he created a suitable helper for him (Gen 2:18).  He then gave a mandate for mankind to continue to grow in number and assist Him with ruling over it. God even walked with Adam and Eve in those early days.  He always wanted us to enjoy the benefits and richness of our relationship with Him, but also with others.

Fast forward to the New Testament, and the idea of community stays strong.  There are many scriptures in the Bible that discuss the needs and benefits of community, and how-to live-in Community.  You can read the devotion the early Church had to each other and studying God’s Word in Acts 2:42-47.  Paul also vividly depicts how tight knit and important the community of Christ is in Romans 12:5, “so In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”   Jesus states that “for where two or three gather in [His] name, there [He is] with them,” further emphasizing His real and actual presence when people come together in His name and His desire for us to do so.

The truth is, we were never meant to be alone, and we thrive better when we are in authentic Christ Centered Community.  Such a community spurs our spiritual growth and helps us through the storms of life – from sin patterns and emotional hurts, to assistance with physical needs, keeping steady in our spiritual growth, and more.  We get to celebrate together too. That is why I love that GRC’s second core value is:

Authentic community: We seek to be a community for real people with real stresses and life challenges, who faithfully worship God together, lovingly care for each other, and mercifully reach out to those in need.

Many of us are familiar with some of the avenues the Church as facilitated bringing together community, such as Growth Groups, Life Groups, Dinner 9’s, and other groups and programs, but some of you have never experienced the Annual Retreat, which is a rich opportunity at experiencing community, and is back after the COVID years.

After our time in Speculator, New York, we got a bit closer this year and over 200 of us met in Harvey Cedars, New Jersey.  Both locations provided such a great opportunity to spend time diving deeper into an aspect of God’s Word, while building relationships (starting or strengthening) while having some vacation-like fun. 

This year we met for four sessions on conflict and peacemaking – a topic that you can’t avoid in life and something the Bible has a lot to tell us about.  How do I respond?  Do I try to escape, or do I attack? Or do I take a more Biblical response to conflict and honor God?  There isn’t enough time to unpack that here, but it was nice to have a few days and sessions to reflect on that together.  Personally, it planted seeds I’m wrestling with today.  Too many times, my Fear of Man, can lead me to employ escape responses, such as “denial”.  Whether I try to avoid the conflict all-together, or simply just don’t try to resolve it properly, such responses are not God honoring approaches.  They simply are me listening to the desires of my own heart and not focusing on God’s love and wisdom.

In between, people enjoyed the beach, canoeing, fishing, clamming, a large fire pit, outdoor and indoor volleyball, a swimming pool, board games, smaller group devotions, and having meals together (surprisingly good food too) and much more.  New friendships were started, some were deepened, while focusing on God’s Word.

I would highly encourage you to consider participating in any of the opportunities provided to engage in Community or create your own opportunity.  Let me also encourage you to plan to fellowship for a weekend next year with your church family through the Church Retreat. 

Remember, we were built for Christ-centered community.

Gary Kreiser and his family have been members of GRC since 2011.