It began as a journey of discovery in how to become more effective in leadership.

By Gail Hughes

It began as a journey of discovery in how to become more effective in leadership.

The real discovery was that developing good and effective leadership skills starts within the individual. That was two years ago (April 2012) in Ontario, with Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor taking a group of pastors and other church leaders from the Regional Synod of Canada through a three-day seminar based on their book The Leader’s Journey.

Still on that journey of discovery a year later, three churches on the west coast of British Columbia came together and, with John Kapteyn coordinating and leading, engaged in their own two-day retreat on Vancouver Island. They got to know each other better and shared not only common histories but also their faith through worship, Bible study, prayer, and of course, food! But even here, the food was not just nourishment for the body; the spiritual tidbits created an even greater desire for more.

Another year later, the journey continued again. Capitalizing on the positive feedback and the desire of those churches to engage with one another again, John Kapteyn coupled this with the denomination’s Transformed and Transforming theme and put together a team of facilitators to bring a mini-taste of the Ridder Church Renewal process to B.C. In 24 hours, participants delved intensely into what it means to be persons of integrity, how as Christians we need to be authentic with ourselves and in relationships with others, and how through living systems and working in community with others, we engage with Jesus Christ to transform our congregations and churches. (Learn more about Ridder Church Renewal at

Each of the three sessions was broken down into four parts: listening as the facilitators introduced the topics, followed by a 45-minute quiet time for personal reflection and prayer using prepared questions as a guide, sharing insights in small groups of three, and then coming back into the larger meeting space to share some of the insights. Along with worship, communing together at meal times, and the peaceful setting of the Bethlehem Retreat Centre, hearts continued to be transformed and God’s journey of discovery in the individual lives of his children took on yet another dimension of growth and maturity through the very real presence of the Holy Spirit.

Herein lies the challenge of making God real. An experience such as this one cannot be limited to a 24-hour event and then forgotten. Transformation is, and should be, an everyday, ongoing process within us. But we need help! How then can the Regional Synod of Canada, coupled with Transformed and Transforming, be facilitated into our churches as we strive to bring God’s church to new heights of commitment and vitality? The synod is in the process of developing a strategy to help our classes and congregations begin the process of radical transformation. Included will be facilitating retreats across Canada similar to the one held in B.C. and then providing resource materials for further study as follow-up to the seminars as the next step in the journey of personal discovery.

Gail Hughes is elder at Powell River Reformed Church; chair of Ministry Care Team, Classis B.C.; and a classis delegate to the Regional Synod of Canada.