My first taste of VP3

Written by on December 8, 2023

Twenty years ago this fall I had my first real taste of VantagePoint3 Ministries. I led a spiritual formation retreat for emerging leaders from six or seven North American Baptist churches in North Dakota and Montana.

Just an hour east of Bismarck, sixty adults gathered at Crystal Springs Baptist Camp. There were ranchers and educators and insurance agents and pastors and auto mechanics and bookstore owners; there were college students and moms and dads and grandparents. The title of the spiritual formation retreat was “Making Space for God, Self, and Others.”

What I found to be so unusual at that retreat was the level of spiritual hunger and conversation among the group. Adults all across the lifespan were asking earnestly, “What is God up to in the world and how do I join in?” “What am I going to be and do when I grow up?” It was an uncommon conversation.

Up until that point, I had not encountered such earnestness and vulnerability among a group of adults. I had worked for over a decade in Christian higher education and always loved these sorts of developmental conversations that seemed to thrive in communities of mostly 18-24-year-olds.  However, in the local church, I had not found such a dynamic learning community for adults. This retreat, with this group, was different.

Somewhere along the way that weekend at Crystal Springs Camp, I shared J.I. Packer’s words, “The church in North America is 3000 miles wide and ½ inch deep.” I remember the many heads nodding that evening, resonating with that quote, as it expressed their frustration and their hunger. I was amazed by the honesty, reflectiveness, and prayerfulness of these adults. I knew my friend Randy Reese was on to something with VP3.  

After the retreat, I drove back to Fargo to catch my flight home. It was a two-hour drive across the windy North Dakota plains on I-94. Along the way, I called Randy to talk about the time. Near the end of that call, I said something like this to him, “I don’t fully understand what you are up to with this VantagePoint3-thing, but I love what I saw at that retreat. Such a rich learning and praying environment for adults. It feels so very uncommon Randy. If you need any help with this work, I would love to help.” It would be 2-3 months later that I would join the VP3 team.

For 23 years VP3 has been helping leaders cultivate deep reflection and spiritual conversation for adults in an age of superficiality and distraction. This is what drew me to the VP3 table that weekend in North Dakota; this is what keeps me at the table today. We seek to be a catalyst for spiritual depth and companionship, helping leaders identify and invite hungry adults in their contexts to go deeper in their faith.

I have witnessed this same hunger for spiritual depth and conversation in so many other settings since that October 2003 retreat at Crystal Springs. Around living rooms and kitchen tables and board rooms and retreat centers, adults ask their big questions and risk sharing their hopes and dreams in a safe and prayerful community. And Jesus by his Spirit faithfully meets them. 

Twenty years later I find myself deeply grateful to be a part of this catalytic VP3 work and community. Jesus, by your Spirit, continue to be generous among us and through us… 

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