By John Pierce

All-day planning on Monday was broken up with 10-mile bike ride — with the first nine miles free of rain. This photo by Larry Hovis was taken at the mid-point, not the end, fortunately.The Baptists Today/Nurturing Faith staff is spread from North Carolina to Montana with most members working in other capacities as well. So bringing everyone together is a big calendaring challenge.

But we pulled it off last week — and held our second annual planning retreat on Jekyll Island. The one last year at Lake Burton in Northeast Georgia had been so beneficial that we were eager to bring these busy, creative people back into face-to-face conversations with a singular focus on our shared mission.

We began with my sharing some perspective on the philosophy and values that drive our work. And my first point had to do with those very co-workers and the many other important persons who make our ministry possible.

Here are those points — in a more legible form than my scribbling with a blue marker at the retreat.

ONE: Recruit the best possible people — staff, contract workers, directors, donors, partners — to think, do and support the mission.

TWO: Produce the best possible resources (news journal, books, curricula and more) and plan innovative, inspiring programs — always insisting that everything be of high quality and effectiveness.

THREE: Treat all persons — customers, coworkers, authors and others — with respect.

FOUR: Collaborate with trusted, effective organizations whenever possible.

FIVE: Dream big; act decisively but responsibly; work hard; and pray it all works — seriously.

Well, that didn’t scare any of them away. In fact, I was speaking out of the experiences of our fine staff and the great supporters who enable our daily work. These are shared values.

Many good ideas were hatched; evaluations were most constructive; and the teambuilding needed to accomplish these expanding tasks was enhanced.

Time and distance require that our ongoing daily work be carried out with the wonderful tools of conference calls, emails and other technological ways of connecting.

At times, however, there is the need to turn off those devices, turn all attention in one direction and build the relationships that enable us to know, trust and appreciate one another more.

Sharing meals, laughter and informal conversations between planning sessions contributed much as well.

So thanks to Ben, Julie, Jackie, Tony, Bruce, Kim and Lex for investing your good gifts and time in the mission we share — and for setting aside a few days so that we might do it better.

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