This past weekend Susan and I had the chance to take in the Apprentice Conference in Wichita, KS. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Story of God & US: The Importance of Narratives for Christian Spiritual Formation.” It was great to represent VP3 at the conference, and to be able to share some things we’ve learned over the years with the use of narratives in our own processes.
If you can zoom in on the above picture, you can catch a sense of the rich depth of perspectives shared about the topic of narratives. The time for me was a mix of listening to key-note speakers, leading a workshop, visiting with some good folks by the VP3 display, and a handful of good “coffee line” conversations. Here are 5 highlights from the time in Wichita…
1. Empowering Through Story Workshop...I led a workshop on why the use of story is so critical for our work at VP3, and how it has been a proven means for life change. Here are the three points I emphasized…you can read about them further in Rob’s and my Deep Mentoring book: (1) A storied framework invites a person into the learning process, thereby creating resonance and hope. (2) A storied framework invites a person to connect the various pieces of their story providing perspective. (3) A storied framework provides objectivity for a person to make decisions with a new freedom to choose.
2. Awareness of VP3…Given the theme of the conference and the type of folks who gather at an Apprentice event, it was a great opportunity to set up a display and invite people to learn about who we are and how The Journey and A Way of Life processes can help them walk alongside the adults in their local church community.
3. Visiting with representatives form InterVarsity Press…Jeff Crosby, Cindy Bunch and Bob Fryling are three people who in one way or another have been involved in the publication of Spiritual Mentoring and Deep Mentoring. They are people who care deeply about the work of the Kingdom. Was great to share with them in person the work of VP3.
4. Listening to Donald Miller…One of my favorite authors is Donald Miller, so it was kick to hear him present his take on the importance of narrative in helping people discover the beauty of their own life story. He invited us to use three simple but good questions in walking with others: (1) Who are you?, (2) What do you want? and (3) What happened when you went for it? Would encourage you to read Miller’s book below…
5. A Noticeable Thirst…I had some interesting conversations with various folks while standing in the line up for coffee. I asked them why they decided to come to the Apprentice Conference. The most common answer given went something like, “I have been spiritually thirsting for something more than what I am able to get from my church.” Because the coffee lines were slow I asked them to unpack their story more. In the unpacking, a common storyline was one of feeling alone and unknown amidst people they had known for decades. These were appointed visits in the coffee lines. A time to affirm and encourage them to not loose heart, and to trust a “yeast” was at work through their own longing within their communities.
During the long drive up Highway 81 toward Sioux Falls from Wichita, I experienced many prayerful moments of gratitude for the good work of VP3…the many lives who have been ignited toward Kingdom life and service, the many pastors and leaders who are paying greater attention to the formation of their adults, and for the growing number of churches becoming remarkable places of learning and growth. A great story to be a part of.