I would like to have a dollar for every conversation I have with a friend, a facilitator of one of the VP3 processes, a pastor or leader, and even with myself, around “what are you thinking about for next steps?”
Deep in the DNA of my spiritual life, and therefore the lens I see others’ personal spiritual DNA, and also the “BIG C” life of the church, is that we ought to be thinking about our next steps for growth. There are always next steps. Jesus talks about things that grow all the time. There is an expectation that we, too, will grow. And in my language, I’ve adopted the words, “What are your next steps?”
To a friend it may sound like, “So, what’s your next move?”
To a facilitator of The Journey process, “Are you helping each of your group participants think about their next steps after The Journey concludes?”
To a Pastor and church leader, “Are you thinking about your church’s next steps for adult spiritual growth? Do you find yourself thinking about some kind of pathway for that growth?”
Let me pull back the curtain on ways we may find our selves thinking about next step conversations.
“Promotion & Recruitment” is my title at VantagePoint3. To be completely honest, when I first started in this role, I very strongly disliked (bordering on hated) my title. I was fine with the “Promotion” part. It was the “Recruitment” part of my title that I did not like. One part of my role is connecting with new pastors and churches and inviting them to partner with us. Technically, that is the definition of “Recruitment.” However, who wants to talk to a “recruiter”? I felt as though that title had a negative stigma attached to it. A “recruiter” is someone who wants something from you…you meet with a recruiter to “sign your life away.” I often wondered how big of a hindrance that title would be…how big of a barrier it would be to beginning a conversation.
In the last couple of months I’ve developed a new passion for both the “Promotion” & the “Recruitment” parts of my title. I have a desire to reverse the negative stigma associated with the word “recruiter.”
In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand.
Mark 8: 1-9 (NKJV)
A few weeks ago I read Mark 8. For some reason this story captured my as it never has before. I promptly turned to Matthew 15, Luke 9, and John 6 to read the other Gospel accounts. Since then, I have not really been able to read beyond this. It captured me and I’ve continued reading all 4 of the Apostles’ accounts…
One of my roles with VantagePoint3 is to support the more than 100 facilitators leading a VP3 adult process in their local church. It is a role I deeply enjoy.
Whether you are one of those facilitators or not, my hunch is that if you are reading this blog, you are leading a group of adults right now. That’s the kind of people we are. Perhaps my own experience of hitting the pause button and “really noticing each person” is well timed for you.
The small group I am investing in is participating in The Journey, the first step in the VP3 pathway for adult development. I have led groups like this many times. But this year I found myself a bit disappointed with how well we are all bonding. The depth of sharing isn’t what I desire. There is also one individual that just seems more removed from the others. Less invested. Cautious. This has been troubling to me. So I’ve wanted to “fix” that person. You know, show them the light of my leadership and get them moving along. I asked for an appointment so we could talk about what I was seeing.
19 years ago I followed a nudge to do what I could to help pastors and the leaders in local churches pay greater attention to the development of their adults. At the time I knew part of the concern was a leadership one, and so much of what I put my hand to was couched in the language of “leadership development.” And, in some respect, I was on to something.
From time to time we get emails or phone calls that remind us of the impact of the work we are up to at VantagePoint3. Yesterday we got one of these emails. So I thought I would share.
It is the story of two changed lives now changing others as a result of going through The Journey. Marcy Milburn at Newton Church of the Way in Newton, Iowa passed this story onto VP3’s Kay Hodges. Marcy writes,
This may seem kind of random but I wanted to email VantagePoint3 with an encouraging word about how lives are being changed in our community because of The Journey.
Below is an article that our local newspaper ran a few weeks ago called “From Dope to Hope.” It’s about two men in our church whose backgrounds couldn’t have been more different, one is a law enforcement officer and the other a former convict. They connected during The Journey class a few years ago, and gave testimonies recently about how God used The Journey to bring them together, which later led them in a joint effort to start this faith-based substance abuse support ministry called Discover Hope 517.
I know you probably hear stories all the time about lives that are being changed through The Journey and VantagePoint3 materials, but I felt led to share. I think the “ripple effect” of their story is what’s most inspiring to me: two very different men take The Journey and are skeptical of each other at first, not even sure if they can trust each other because of their backgrounds; they embrace the process, God changes their hearts, and they grow in Christ; God leads them in a joint effort to start a ministry called Discover Hope so that people who struggle with addiction can have a support group centered around Jesus. Lives are being changed and people are being set free because of the love of Jesus!
So I want to say thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Because of the opportunity your leadership development curriculum provides, lives are being changed, not only in our church but in our community. Thank you!
Director of Children’s Ministries and Adult Discipleship
Newton Church of The Way
The Spirit is always up to something creative and good, and it is such a gift when we get to witness this faithful work in real time. We are grateful to be a small part of God’s kingdom work in Newton. May the Lord continue to bless the friendship and efforts of Aaron and Robbie and The Discover Hope Ministry in Newton. In Jesus name.
“The Journey has changed the way I think about my role as pastor.
I have a greater boldness about my mission and calling.”
In a recent coaching call with our Sioux Falls The Journey Facilitator Retreat crew, we heard great testimonies of the impact already being felt and seen within Journey groups across South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. At a point in the conversation when the facilitators were talking about how the process was impacting them, the above quote is how one of the pastors replied.
I took the opportunity to talk with that pastor and I asked him if he would be willing to answer a few questions and share about his experience implementing The Journey in his church for the first time…
How many times have you heard yourself saying, or thinking,
“I don’t think I’m going to go to (fill in the blank).”
And then, you summon the energy, obedience, or heart to show up.
Later you hear yourself saying, or thinking, “I’m glad I went.”
What’s that all about?
I think I know the answer.
I’ve been reading comments included in The Journey assessments we have received at VP3.
Here’s a few that stood out:
“Once again I am faced with the fact that I cannot make this earthly journey alone.
I see saints all around me and know that they have a story that would shock me and yet a story that God wrote, is writing, and is totally IN!!!
Understanding that each of us has a unique story makes me so much more accepting of all people….everyone has some kind of battle.”
We are in the midst of the Facilitator Training Retreat season here @ VantagePoint3. 3 Retreats done (by the time this posts) – Glendora, CA, Kelowna, BC, and Indianapolis, IN. There are still 6 more Facilitator Training Retreats on the schedule…Atlanta, GA – in 5 days – and, in August, we will be in Dyer, IN (just south of Chicago), Grimsby, Ontario (the Greater Toronto Area, or, the southern end of “The Golden Horseshoe” ;), Sioux Falls, SD, Kelowna, BC, and Calgary, AB. So…It’s not too late to join us at one of our Retreats!
As we are nearing the “home stretch” for Facilitator Training Retreats, we are also thinking about what we can do to help all of our “Tribe” who has been trained to facilitate groups gather the people to experience the transformation that comes from intentionally walking with others through The Journey, A Way of Life, the Equipping Experience, or an Enriching Conversation.
Here is where we need help from you…
One thing we are working on to help our facilitators invite participants is a “Starting a Group” page on our website. The plan is to put sample invitations, ppt slides, notes, and letters that our partner churches have used in the past to invite participants and form groups. Ideally, these samples would be easy for people to download and edit with their church/organization information to personalize it for their unique context.
In my role with VP3 I have the privilege of swimming in a sea of beautiful feedback about how our ministry processes are actually impacting the spiritual growth of individuals and their local setting as a whole. This includes personal stories from facilitators as well as a lot of hardcore data gathered through online assessments participants choose to complete, and a more extensive research inquiry project underway.
To be honest, those of us involved with a VP3 process KNOW a lot of good things are happening in people’s lives. But to see the impact of this ministry work “by the numbers,” well, it’s a beautiful thing. So it is with a growing confidence and humble joy I share what we are learning.
Today’s facts are about participation in The Journey process. You may have a person or two you will enjoy sharing this with as well.
The top five reasons an adult in the local church will choose to say yes to participate in The Journey are:
1. Desiring to draw closer to God and grow deeper. 2. Desiring to re-ignite life with God; feeling their life of faith has grown stagnant. 3. Searching for purpose in life. 4. Recognizing that being with others–accountability–helps them grow. 5. Trusting the person that asked them.
Based on the combined assessment data voluntarily completed at the end of The Journey, we are learning that: