Thrive: A Time of Refreshment
Elspeth Pitt reflects on this year’s Thrive conference for women in ministry. She says the chance to form relationships and to relax, reflect and recharge is crucial for ministry workers.
I think May is my favourite month.
The days lengthen, everything is green, the sun shines a bit more. In the shape of my year, it’s the time for catching up with individuals, reflecting on the year that has passed, and starting to plan the year ahead. It’s also the time for Thrive.
Thrive has been, in many ways, something of a revelation to me.
I’ve been in church work quite a long time now, but have only recently come to work in an Independent church context, so this year’s Thrive was only my second one. And I enjoyed the first one so much I started pestering FIEC Women’s Ministry Co-ordinator Elisabeth Smyth for this year’s dates back in the autumn to make sure I got invited again!
What makes it so good? Three things in particular, it seems to me:
Thrive really is a time for refreshment.
A lovely house, set in beautiful grounds, with sunny weather (at least for the last two years) and great food really makes these 48 hours away special. Many of us come tired and perhaps feeling stressed or disappointed, and to have this time to rest is just so precious.
The little touches help with that as well – tissues and chocolate and an encouraging book to read waiting for us as we arrive; a timetable which is deliberately relaxed, so that there is time to be quiet or to chat with others.
Time with others
It seems to me that women’s ministry can sometimes feel quite isolated.
Many of us are in small teams and perhaps the only woman on the team. Sometimes we can feel burdened by things we can’t share. Or pressured to do things that the people we are working amongst will see and applaud. Added to that, word ministry often feels slow and ineffective.
What an encouragement, then, to meet with others in similar circumstances, to be reminded that God’s word really does work, to take time to talk and to pray and to encourage one another to keep going.
And it was great to hear interviews with women in different situations, to hear of what God is doing in their lives and ministry, so that we too were encouraged.
Time with the Lord
In women’s ministry we spend such a lot of time trying to encourage others to be growing in their walk with the Lord that we can sometimes risk neglecting our own. What a wonderful thing then to have the opportunity to engage with God’s word together, to be taught from it and to be able to reflect on it and pray about it.
This year we heard from Sian Baker from Lansdowne Church in Bournemouth as we considered what it meant for different individuals in the Bible to encounter God in their situations.
We also heard from FIEC Pastoral Ministries Director Johnny Prime as we heard about how God works to encourage us to depend on him. It was great to spend time in groups pondering what it might mean for us in our situations and to learn from each other and pray for one another.
There was also time spent on our own with the Lord; praying, reading and reflecting.
These 48 hours really are a time for us to thrive. Time to rekindle our joy in the Lord as we encourage one another to fix our eyes on Jesus and learn from him, to trust his promises and to walk his way.