The Power of Gathering: Inspire’s 2023 Annual Retreat


 “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV

In August, of this year, the Inspirers of Inspire Agency gathered in Charleston, S.C. for our annual retreat to learn, reflect and to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Yep, right in the middle of Hurricane Idalia, but even that didn’t put a damper on our celebrations. “Company retreat” probably makes you think of the usual happenings: brainstorming sessions, guest speakers, and team-building activities. We certainly did all that, but we took it up a notch and closed with a 10th anniversary party in downtown Charleston. The streets were empty, and everything was closed, but that did not stop the fun of celebrating together with our team and our clients. (Thank you Poogan’s Courtyard for accommodating us!)

Chosen CEO Jenni Lord made the trip and inspired us by talking about how Inspire Agency is jet fuel for the trajectory of our clients. We are helping them get where they need to go. We heard about the power of generosity, and learned about how we can be better team members and serve our clients by embracing the seven elements of BRAVE and other essential lessons:

  • Boundaries: Setting clear boundaries about what is and isn’t acceptable, and why
  • Reliability: Doing what you say you’ll do
  • Accountability: Owning your mistakes, apologizing, and making amends
  • Vault: Not sharing information or experiences that are not yours to share
  • Integrity: Choosing courage over comfort, and what’s right over what’s easy, fun, or fast
  • Non-judgment: Not judging others
  • Generosity: Being generous

The Inspire team also tackled an intensive SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) session. When we’re running fast, taking care of our day-to-day tasks, it can be difficult to find the time to step back, pause, and think about what we’ve done, where we’re excelling and where we can improve, and strive for continuous improvement.

We also found time for some fun. What good is having access to the beach if you don’t use it? After breaking bread together, the Inspire team broke ground on sand sculptures. We broke into teams, harnessed our “Whatever It Takes” mantra, and competed to see who could design the best sand sculpture using all the available natural elements at our disposal. Our designs were a church, a turtle and a dolphin, each of which has a significant connection to Charleston, S.C.

Practice Through Gathering

The most essential aspect of the retreat was simply being together—especially as a fully remote team with Inspirers from all over the country. Gathering as a team and spending time with one another as people, in person. 

Staying at a retreat center out on Isle of Palms, each night we all hung out in the common room and talked and listened to music. Each sharing our hymns, lessons, revelations and interpretations. Also breaking out into 90s dance parties. The Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys were on repeat.

The vibe is just different in person. One of our values at Inspire Agency is the importance of being relational. It was the main theme of last year’s retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And, like many things in life, it’s a practice. Living up to our values and who we want to be doesn’t mean learning something and then it’s done. If there’s something we want to improve within ourselves, we can’t just check a box and consider it completed. It’s lifelong work, a practice we undertake every day.

Sitting in the common rooms, taking part in those learning sessions, it made me reflect on the importance of gathering, how gathering can be an essential part of any practice.

Bliss and Joy

Connection is harder and harder to come by in today’s world. You’ve likely seen stories about the increasingly isolated nature of our society. We’re behind screens and often “communicating” without seeing each other face-to-face. The pandemic certainly didn’t help. The outside world of seemingly widening division puts our guard up. It ravages our mental health and can cause us to withdraw further and further into ourselves. Our Inspirers come from all walks of life. We have different life experiences, different faith traditions, even different views on societal and political issues. Yet when we come together, those differences don’t divide us. They illuminate the world for us. Each person gives us a new window upon which to view the world, and we can see the whole wondrous play instead of our bit part upon the stage. 

I hope this also inspires you to gather with co-workers, family, friends, anyone you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s never too late to re-connect with someone or make new connections There’s always bliss and joy in talking to new people. Even the briefest of connections can spark this within us

 Where the Saints gather together and sit, God dwells close at hand. They abide in bliss and joy, beholding the Lord’s wondrous play.”
Sri Guru Granth Sahib

The Red Cross is providing financial assistance to households whose homes were confirmed to have been destroyed or sustained major damage by Hurricane Idalia. Donate here.


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