A Christian Developmental Path

When people have recently asked me this question –“Who is The Journey for?”–I have found myself responding by pointing to this Christian developmental path diagram we have been using around our offices. 

 

 

We’ve found it helpful (without prescribing a rigidity) to show where our VantagePoint3 Pathway fits within a broader understanding of a person’s growth toward maturity in Christ (Eph 4:14-15; Col 1:28-29).  Each chapter along the journey needs attention from an adult discipleship and development perspective. So whether the person asking the question is thinking about the people in their community or about their own particular development, unpacking this path helps identify the discipleship and developmental needs. People at all six chapters along this path regularly participate in the VP3 Pathway

 

Here are some talking points on each developmental chapter. See what you notice about your own place on the path, but also prayerfully consider those in your sphere of influence — what sort of discipleship needs are you noticing?

 


TALKING POINTS FOR A CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENTAL PATH

 

Turning

How are we helping people learn how to share their faith with people “pre-Jesus”? How can we enter into loving relationships with those whom the Lord is wooing to himself? How do our discipleship efforts help people turn toward God through the work of Christ?

 

Rooting

Once we have made a commitment to follow Christ we enter another place of growth where we sink our roots into the fundamentals of what it means to live the Christian life.  How do we learn to read Scripture and pray?  What does it mean to become a part of a church community?  What about worship, serving, tithing, community, etc?

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Recruit folks facing transitions

We serve a very creative and developmental God who uses the disruptions in our lives to shape and mature us—times of failure and transition, moments of questioning, loss, and possibility. Growing up into Christ consists of both long, slow stretches of continuity and more sudden turns of discontinuity. These turns or detours or sidetracks in our stories offer such significant possibilities for who we are, who we are becoming, and how we serve others in Jesus’ name. And if we are walking with people, investing in their development, we must pay particular attention to these periods of confrontation and discontinuity in their life stories; for these transitional seasons often prove to be heightened times of new learning and growth.

 

As many of you look ahead to the fall start of The Journey in your contexts, I would encourage you to pay attention to people who are in transitions. Recruit folks who are coping with significant life changes. Look for those who may be newly graduated or recently unemployed; men and women who are approaching retirement or wondering about a career change; folks who have been coping with a major loss over the past five years, like the death of a loved one or a divorce or an illness; men or women pondering what their new passion or burden or life-dream has to do with the Lord’s leading; people at mid-life who are being confronted within by a growing dissatisfaction with their life of faith – Is this as good as it gets? The different sorts of pressures and frustrations and losses that are experienced during these times of change and transition provide such fertile soil for a deeper discovery of the Spirit’s personal presence, grace, and direction.

 

So as you consider who to invite into The Journey process this fall I would encourage to not overlook those who are facing new life chapters…

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How Deeply Rooted Am I?

 

Tall Tree-Color

An important question we all need to be asking ourselves is, “How deeply rooted am I with God?”

 

 

           How blessed is the man

           Who does not walk in the counsel

                  of the wicked,

              Nor stand in the path of sinners,

              Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

           But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

              And in His law he meditates

                  day and night.

           He will be like a tree

              Firmly planted by streams of water,

              Which yields its fruit in its season

              And its leaf does not wither;

           And in whatever he does, he prospers.

                                              (Psalm 1:1-3)

 

From my perspective, there can (basically) be three possibilities.  Since this is about being “deeply rooted,” lets look at trees as the example…

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Paying Attention…

sunset

“Teach us to number our days,

That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

Short thought this time…

 

A few weeks ago I was leading two Facilitator Retreats; one in Olympia, Washington and two days later in Warwick, New York. I found myself emphasizing to both groups of pastors and lay-leaders the importance of caring for themselves,

 

“Taking care of yourself is not selfish. In fact, as a person who is leading others, it is one of the least selfish things you can do because you cannot care for others well if you have not taken proper care of yourself. Not for very long, at least.”

 

donkey

It didn’t hit me the first time I said it. It took me hearing myself say it to others a second time before I stopped myself and I took notice. Then, when I got home from that week of two Facilitator Retreats, my pastor preached on Psalm 90:12.  Two days later, during our VP3 Team Meeting, Pam’s focusing thought revolved around Psalm 90:12…

 

I think God is reminding me to pay attention to something. I guess I better take my own advice and clear some space so I can better perceive what He is saying!

 

Perhaps you do too…

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How am I changing my world?

Andrew-Halverson-Monarch-Caterpillar

One definition of the word “catalyst” is “a stimulus to change.”

 

What happens when someone becomes a catalyst for any type of change? Maybe you’re the catalyst in your home for a change to healthier eating. Or maybe you’re the catalyst in your church for a move toward more intentional discipleship.

 

I recently made a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana where I met with pastors, facilitators, and financial partners of VantagePoint3. Quickly I found a common denominator in what I was hearing. One name, Beth Booram. Almost all of the people I met had been pointed to VP3 through the influence of this one woman who believes in the impact God is making on lives. 

 

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What We Are Learning About Adult Development

Coffee and BooksI spent a portion of this morning listening to and learning from a recent VantagePoint3 webinar I missed — so much to chew on and savor. 

 

Brent, Pam, and Randy had a conversation last Wednesday around the topic: “What We Are Learning About Adult Development.” For over sixteen years of working with more than two hundred-sixty churches from twenty-three denominations, we have discovered a good bit about how adults develop and mature. Most recently we received input from over fifty leaders “in the field” who have been utilizing our processes with adults in their congregations for anywhere from four to thirteen years.  We are finding great insights, encouragements, and challenges amidst all the data of our research.

 

In this webinar, Pam and Randy and Brent synthesize what we have been learning from our experience and our research. If you at all care about the growth of adults and communities (Ephesians 4:14-15), then you are going to find this webinar beneficial. Here is the webinar recording link to listen in – “What We Are Learning About Adult Development”

 

 By way of a sneak peek here are the seven points they discuss:

1. Shape the person and you stand a much greater chance of shaping everything else.

2. The deepening and empowering of others requires a ministry of paying attention.

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“co-editing” our story…

I_Want_You_blank_Uncle_Sam_0“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.”

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…they ate & were filled…

loaves-and-fishes2

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…

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A Pathway For Adult Development

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.

 

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Ripple Effects

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,

 

Hi Kay,

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.

 

qgbb1up7b97h4ilab1tskpz73otb6nlBelow 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.

 

http://www.newtondailynews.com/2014/12/04/from-dope-to-hope/aei5fge/

 

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!

  

In Him,

 

Marcy Milburn

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. 

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