My imagination is being stretched. And I would like to stretch yours.
A neighbor has been coming by our property twice a year on behalf of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology researching the density of eastern bluebirds in the Upper Midwest. For many years she has not seen a single bluebird when she visits.
Early in 2023, she called, saying that she had three extra bluebird houses. Would I be interested in having them? Yes! And in a mentoring kind of way, she came here with her husband and we chose three locations she believed would be ideal. Two were about 50 yards from my kitchen windows.
In April when I was on the road with VP3, my husband called, “I think I just saw a bluebird!” And over the next couple weeks we not only saw one bluebird, but a pair and they were choosing to build a nest in one of our newly stationed houses. They are simply beautiful. And though they are not endangered, they are rare in our area. It is not an exaggeration to say that every single day of the summer I was looking for “my bluebirds.”
I share this patient and enduring story from nature because it inspires me to connect the dots with my experiences helping to shepherd VantagePoint3.
Let me share some VP3 activity that is stretching my imagination.
When I led Journey groups at my local church 15 years ago we only considered starting a group in sync with the ministry year… September to April. Five years ago in the VP3 family of facilitators, someone wanted to start their group in the Winter, after the first of the year. We had never thought of that at the time. We now regularly talk about “winter starts.”
Since then, we have been watching and noticing that facilitators start groups at different times of the year. With great success. Once a group launches and spends time together for a few weeks they are “in.” From that point on, the group can together navigate the calendar ahead of them.
Versatility has long been one of the strengths of The Journey experience. By that, I mean that the materials, or content, provide sound educational and formational tracks to run down. Beyond that, we cease to be amazed at the contexts and ways imaginative facilitators adapt The Journey to the adults they are being called to serve.
One such pastor/facilitator is Jay Braband. When COVID unfolded he was in Portland leading a Journey group. The group shifted to meeting online and Pastor Jay said, “It worked!”
“COVID continued and we also moved to Des Moines. But adults in Portland were asking to be in a Journey group. So I put together another online group that ended up with people from every time zone. And that worked!” unpacked Jay.
“You can’t argue with an in-person group,” confides Jay, “but online really opens a door for me, and others, to invite a family member or a friend who lives far away to join a group.” After five online groups, Jay is sold on the versatility, results, and the ways an online format gives him flexibility and freedom in this stage of his retired life.
Currently, our imaginations are being stretched, and perhaps yours will be too, in how we might go about launching a Journey group. We know that getting adults to commit to a 21-week group has become increasingly challenging. But, we also know that adults are searching for places of deeper, richer friendship and belonging where they can cultivate their desire to grow closer to Jesus, closer to others, and discover how the God of the universe wants to use their unique set of gifts and experiences for Kingdom impact.
Would it be possible to launch a Journey Stage One (8 weeks) group for the opportunity to taste and see what we know is good? The full intention would be to continue on to Stages Two and Three as the group’s comradery and desire increase. With our blessing, we are inviting you to stretch your imagination in how you might launch a Journey group in your setting.
My imagination for seeing eastern bluebirds out my windows is in a completely different place than it was a year ago. We not only had one pair…we had several. And they not only had one clutch (set of eggs), but two! And they raised their little families here. It was fascinating! Beyond my imagination!
Setting the table for the patient and enduring work of VP3’s more relational means of life and ministry could be flying all around you. Can you see it?
*** In January, we will also be offering free shipping on all of your VP3 materials.