This time last week, I was on a small tour boat on my way to a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Arm in Vancouver Harbor.  There were 28 people on board. 

I have gone to view how Joy Fellowship, ministry within the mentally challenged community,  in Vancouver, B.C. would conduct their leadership retreat.  We are interested in learning how to better use our members who have leadership qualities.  I would like to take another week to mull over the things I learned but I’m afraid that rather than blending, it could ferment.  So here goes:

  1. In many ways, their leadership techniques are similar to those used in Special Gathering with shades of differences.
  2. Their leadership has complete freedom to contribute a thought, a verse or a song during the worship services.  It was common to have two or three people interject their thoughts during a teaching.  This could be a result in the fact that Joy Fellowship has a worship service on Sunday.  Then during the week, they have their Bible studies.  At Special Gathering, we have our worship time, then a Bible study afterward.  We ask our members to not interrupt the worship time.  However, they are encouraged to ask their questions during the Bible study time.  I’m actually not sure which I prefer.  However, I found the spontaneity of their leadership refreshing.
  3. The teachers taught passages of scripture, rather than one or two verses.  This gives the members an overview from the scriptures of what the main principle is.  At Special Gathering, we read one or two scriptures and teach only one point during each devotion.  During the devotion, we will tell (rather than read from the scriptures) the Bible background of the story we are teaching.  There may be two or three points in the Joy Fellowship teachings.  Because these men and women are higher functioning, they appeared to be able to assimilate all the points.  Because I didn’t attend a regular service, I wasn’t able to see if a passage of scripture is also used in the normal worship services.
  4. They had an interesting combination of preparation and informality.  The entire weekend was presented in written form contained in a booklet of questions and activities.  This gave the people leading the small groups concrete instructions to follow.  These groups were exceptionally easy to lead because of this booklet.
  5. The informality came during the teaching time and praise and worship.  For example, during songs the signing choir knew, they would come up as though on cue, though there were no verbal instructions.
  6. Some of the leadership had become a tad bossy with the other members.  There was gentle instruction and correction given.  This is an issue we also face and we have to address when it occurs.
  7. Last year after their leadership retreat,  a member of their leadership team had collapsed and died on the dock  immediately after the retreat.  Because of this, there was a need for a memorial service during the retreat.  This was bitter/sweet time for everyone.  I was happy to see the teacher hit the issue of grief head-on with tears of remembrance and joy that a friend had gone to heaven.
  8. The ushers and signing choir had been trained to respond automatically to their service offerings, rather than on cue. 

Of course, there was more but my mind is still sorting.  In all, I was impressed with their leaders and their teachers. 

What are some of the things you have learned regarding leadership that you believe are important to share?