Alice Shirey has had the opportunity of facilitating over 40 folks in multiple A Way of Life groups over the past two years. These are people who have completed The Journey and taken the next step to walk through our A Way of Life process. I asked her to reflect upon what she had been noticing in these groups, what’s been standing out to her as she considers the many different people that have participated. Here are Alice’s reflections:
As a two-time facilitator of A Way of Life, I have had a front row seat at some of God’s best work; the transformation of lives. It never ceases to amaze me, and often brings me to tears.
A few things are especially sweet:
1. The honesty in the room.
I don’t know if it is the overflow of vulnerability from the shared experience of The Journey class, or the nature of the curriculum, but I have not witnessed much “faking it” over the last two years. Even in large group discussions, the honesty, vulnerability and trust have been palpable. When this kind of environment occurs in the church, growth is often inevitable.
2. The deep connections between very different kinds of people.
The first year we offered A Way of Life, one woman quit the class right after we put our “mutual mentoring groups” together. She was uncomfortable with the group we had placed her in. In my opinion, she missed out on the greatest gift of this class experience, what we call “the triads.” These groups of 3 or 4, put together by my co-facilitator and myself, have become small, rich, powerful places of deep sharing and tight community. As the class moves forward, we have noticed that we feel compelled to extend our “triad time” by more and more minutes every week. I believe life-long friendships are formed amongst people who may otherwise never have spoken to one another. This is so incredibly powerful to witness. The learning and support that takes place in these groups is immeasurable.
3. The practical learning around deepening one’s friendship with God.
Though the level of spiritual maturity in the room is all over the board, the A Way of Life process is able to impact every single person in a powerful way. As my co-facilitator said: “It is so unusual to find a curriculum that is able to breach the age and experience gap. But this does it; from 25 to 65, there is meaningful, applicable growth material for all.” And he is so right. It is my firm belief that all participants who sign on for this experience at our church, walk out with a new toolbox filled with all they need to continue their spiritual growth journey. This is invaluable. Priceless, really.
I cannot begin to express in words what this process has meant for our church.
Over 40 people have now experienced A Way of Life together over the last 2 years. And slowly, quietly, powerfully, like yeast in a loaf of bread, like a small seed growing into a massive tree, this nucleus of spiritually growing people is impacting our church community, their workplaces, their families, our larger community … all for the Kingdom of God. This feels like “church as it was meant to be.”
Alice Shirey is a teaching pastor at Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa and a good friend of VP3. We highly recommend Alice’s blog Live the Way, an expression of her lifelong love of God and her desire to walk in the ways of Jesus.