Leaders’ Planning Retreat during covid 19

Our usual two days Leader’ Planning Retreat every September would have been held in Johor, Malaysia. Its just across the Causeway about 3 hours drive from Singapore. The program is packed full and I would be wasted at the end of it. But enter covid 19 and things had to change. We would not be able to go across to Johor. Even if we could, it would be unlikely that we would go across. We simply dropped our reservation without any penalty.

So we are doing it in Singapore over Zoom plus. What is the plus? The plus is for those who wish to meet physically in the church facility with strict safeguards as required by the government. So there will be zooming for the main sessions and breakout rooms for three congregations and later for ministries/departments. Everything is done over a Saturday beginning at 11.45am with a zoom lunch together. What’s that? We eat our food over Zoom and have small talk and side glances. We have our planning in various modes: all three congregation leaders together, break into congregations, break into groups etc., until we conclude by 6 pm. This is followed by another meeting two weeks later.

How do I feel about it? Well its convenient – cutting out all the commute of travel. It saves time and hassle. What is there to complain? However, I think it lacks the element of relational dynamics, and the stability and solidity of human and physical interaction. Leadership is influence and influence is relational more than structural. It calls for full bodied communications – not just head and shoulders on a box on a laptop screen. After all we communicate most effectively with our whole body. I mean screen share is a good tool but the full body language is better. We say so much more with being physically present. But we have no choice. We make do with what we have, and what we can. As my predecessor pastor Johney used to quip, “When you do not have your real teeth, use false teeth.” In this age, there are no perfect solutions and conditions – we live in a broken world. Accept it and live with it, and get on with the Lord’s presence strengthening us.

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