Comments on VP3 webinar “Cultivating a Culture of Walking Alongside-ness”

Last Thursday Pam Edwards, Randy Reese and I had a conversation around the question “How does one cultivate a culture of walking alongside-ness?”  This question has been growing in our minds for sometime. We hear so many stories of individuals transformed by the Spirit within the context of our VP3 processes. We have such a deep sense of gratitude for the thousands of people over the past 14 years who have walked through our processes because someone in their local setting–a pastor, a lay leader, a friend–cared deeply about them and invested in their development and maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16). Beyond these stories of individual life change, we are beginning to pay Slide2attention more closely to the factors that lead to a cultural change within the local church community.  How does the concern for investing in people’s lives grow beyond a concern of one or two individuals in local church to becoming characteristic of the climate of the church as a whole?  Or put another way, how does a local church foster a leadership culture of people investment?


So the format of our conversation on Thursday was captured in a webinar format, recorded and posted on our website if you want to listen in. Here is the link: Cultivating a Culture of Walking Alongside-ness.

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Upcoming VP3 Webinar: Cultivating A Culture of Walking Alongside-ness

walking_feet_30052d98eWe will be hosting another VP3 webinar on Thursday, February 20th entitled “Cultivating A Culture of Walking Alongside-ness.” Randy Reese, Pam Edwards, Brent Eliason, and I would love for you to join us.


Around the office we are growing increasingly curious about and attentive to the factors that help a church’s leadership culture move from mere enlistment to mindful investment of others in the congregation. Join our conversation as we discuss what we have been wondering about and learning,  about how the practice of walking alongside-ness becomes fundamental for adult discipleship and leadership formation…We’d love to hear what you are discovering along the way.


    • Title: Cultivating A Culture of Walking Alongside-ness
    • Date: Thursday, February 20, 2014
    • Time 10:00 am – 11:00am


 Share this blog entry with other church leaders who you think might benefit from this topic. The webinar is free. RESERVE YOUR WEBINAR SEAT NOW! Blessings.

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Looking Ahead to 2014


Gracious God,

Your love puts no condition and knows no limits.

It embraces and envelops us totally, like the air we breathe.

It is life-giving in the most profound sense of the word.Candle

Grant us grace to believe with all our hearts.

May this faith shape and permeate our personalities

and may it bear rich fruit in self-acceptance and love of our neighbor.

Let us become living witnesses of your love and truth and give you honor and glory.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, in whom all your love was revealed.

-Peter van Breeman

The God of Our Deepest Longings: Seven Biblical Meditations (Ave Maria Press, 2009), 46.

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Merry Christmas from the VP3 Team!


I asked this funny looking group that I get to work with to reflect back over the past year and share a book that stands out to them from the past twelve months. So moving clock wise from the top left corner of the picture let’s work our way around the group.


Kay: Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business  (Jossey-Bass, 2012) – I appreciated Lencioni’s way of looking at what success means for an organization. Success takes on a whole new meaning. It isn’t just about numbers.


Emily:  Francine Rivers’ Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream (Tyndale, 2011) – During my travel time to different music festivals ministering with LightsOut this past summer I found myself reading these two books. They compose a wonderful story of a family going through good and difficult times and how their faith in God helped them heal old wounds and move on as a closer, stronger family.


Brent: Rick Richardson’s Reimagining Evangelism: Inviting Friends on a Spiritual Journey (InterVarsity, 2006) – What I really appreciated about Richardson’s perspective is that he took the fear and intimidation out of “evangelism” as having the right “words to say” or knowing all the verses corresponding to “the bridge” that many of us have been raised under. Richardson simplifies “evangelism” as helping people belong so that they can come to believe.  The best way to help people belong is by living our transformed life and sharing about our transformation in the presence of those who do not know Christ.  


Randy: Wayne Rice’s Enjoy Your Middle Schooler (Zondervan, 1994) – Wayne and Marci Rice gave this book to Susan and me before we had Liam.

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Nurturing a sense of gratitude

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “When it comes to life the critical thing isUnknown whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”  A grateful heart seems to be a door that lets us in on a host of other human experiences: generosity and love and reconciliation and forgiveness and freedom and laughter. Gratitude makes our ears to hear, our eyes to see, and our hearts to understand. Our character grows to the degree that we nurture a sense of gratitude in our lives. Psychologist Dan Allender elaborates on this point by way of a story.


To those who have eyes of gratitude, all senses are freed to take in and participate in the smallest and most obscure as well as the most panoramic displays of beauty. Gratitude also frees the heart to suffer fury against that which mars beauty. Gratitude brings an imminent passion to all endeavors of life.

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Little Walker & the boardwalk

Let me tell you about a little boy’s trip to his favorite place on earth – the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk. If you have ever been to this boardwalk in the summer you know the extent of the crowds of people – it can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. For five-year-old Little Walker, with amusement rides and snacks and so many people, a night spent on the boardwalk was his most favorite thing to do. All day long he told everyone he encountered “I am going to the boardwalk tonight!” So when dinner was done and the dishes were all washed and dried, he headed up to the boards with his parents and little sister, his aunt and uncle. Little Walker could barely contain himself as he entered the scene: Ferris wheels and boogie boards and flashing billboards, skateboards and strollers, Steel’s fudge and Mack & Manco’s pizza and Shriver’s saltwater taffy, the sounds of the ocean in the background, and wave upon wave upon wave of people. Absolutely wonderful!IMG_3386


But when he spotted the Johnson Caramel Popcorn shop (his dad’s favorite) and excitedly looked back for his dad and could not find him, the whole scene turned on Little Walker. The lights, the noises, the smells, and the faces all began to press in upon him, and terrify him. The excitement was gone. Little Walker was lost. He began to quietly cry as he searched the crowd for his family. Face after face, big and small, young and old, missed him and his desperate situation. Not one of them focused any sort of sustained attention on him. Everything and everyone raced by the boy in a collective overlooking, until out of the crowd, one familiar face stood out.

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October 30th and “the perfect prank”

5 & 10Tony Campolo tells the story that for a kid growing up in Philadelphia as he did, Mischief Night, the night before Halloween, was a highlight of the year for his neighborhood. It was the night the kids generated all sorts of mayhem for the adult world. Cars were egged, homes were tee-peed, air was let out of car tires, trash cans were overturned–a whole assortment of pranks were sprung on neighborhoods. So in the days and even weeks before October 30th, they would dream and plan what they were going to do on Mischief Night. Campolo recalls that it was during one of these planning sessions that he and his friends came up with “the perfect prank.” They were going to break into the local five & dime store late at night, not to destroy or steal anything. What they were going to do was break into the store in order to switch all the price tags. They imagined with glee the next morning, when the store reopened and chaos followed. Toasters would be on sale for 25 cents and gum for $30, flashlights for a nickel and licorice for $15. No one would know what the price of anything really was.

For Campolo, this childhood Mischief Night story paints a picture of our experience in the world today. 

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He makes me lie down

I have recently found myself pondering a good bit the psalmist words, “The Lord…my shepherd…makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:1-2).

IMG_1539My son Elliott is 7 ½ months old. Sarah and I have become well acquainted with the daily mystery of putting Elliott down for the night or for a nap. Over the past several months we have spent hours bouncing him on an exercise ball or rocking him in a chair or singing him to sleep as we take laps around the house. Most nights he gently relaxes in our arms, surrendering himself to sleep and rest and his crib. Other nights he tenses and seemingly fights every inch along the way to that crib. We encourage, we plead, we endure, we outlast him; in short, we make him lie down to sleep.

Philip Keller points out in his wonderful book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 that unless sheep are free of fear, of tension with other sheep, of aggravation from insects and parasites, and of hunger, they will not lie down and rest. Sheep can be such anxious creatures. Keller writes, “The unique aspect of the picture is that it is only the shepherd himself who can provide release from these anxieties. It all depends on the diligence of the owner whether or not his flock is free of disturbing influences” (35-36).

He makes me lie down…

Because of my recent immersion in this world of putting an infant to sleep,

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Walking Well with Others: 4 Questions

images-1Thomas Hart’s The Art of Christian Listening (Paulist Press, 1980) has consistently provided me fruitful perspectives for the work of walking alongside others on their spiritual journey. Hart’s thoughts point to fundamental realities of helping another person. As I reread the book I found myself translating some of his thoughts into self-examining questions. As you think and pray about your desire to walk well with others as a mentor or friend or facilitator this year, allow these questions to orient and ready your heart:

1. Am I willing to listen? Listening is fundamental to building trust in the relationship. By listening attentively to one another we remind each other that our lives profoundly matter.

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Life as gift

I am reminded again this December through the person of Jesus Christ that life is fundamentally gift. The incarnation as theologians put it; or more simply said, “When God gives a gift, he wraps it in the form of a person” (William Lane). God’s grace comes to us freely and abundantly in a person, a person who was born and grew and lived, a person with a face that we could have stared at and look into if we lived in first century Galilee; we could have bumped into Jesus and conversed and eaten with him. I pray that amidst the hurry and flurry of your December activities that you may take time for remembering, reflecting, and celebrating God’s grace wonderfully expressed in the person of Jesus.

Earlier this morning I re-read a portion of a book by Frederick Buechner

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