When Adults Gather….Some Significant Things Happen (Part I)
Written by Pam Edwards on October 24, 2012
In Eugene Peterson’s memoir, The Pastor, he humbly searches for a word to best describe the ins and outs of being a pastor over time. To that end, he chooses the word, “witness.”
“A witness is never the center but only the person who points to or names what is going on at the center — in this case, the action and revelation of God in all the operations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (1)
Not all of us are pastors. However, we are all witnesses to the ever present action of God in our midst. If we but pay attention. I had the privilege of being a witness at the VantagePoint3 Enriching Retreat in Green Lake, Wisconsin recently. More than 40 adults gathered to consider how they could nurture the spiritual growth of other adults in their unique settings, as well as being interested in growing more deeply and richly and slowly in their own life of faith.
One of the most challenging aspects of Kingdom work is simply “getting people together.” Perhaps this is because when adults DO gather…some significant things happen.
Let me share what I witnessed and found significant when these adults gathered. I believe this account may give you a sharper eye and ear so that you might point out and name what God is up to around you and in you.
Significant Theme #1
When adults pause to consider their own lives, they recognize:
a growing acceptance of themselves,
a growing trust in God,
and a growing desire to care for and influence others.
Significant Theme #2
When adults pause to think of others in their setting, they recognize:
some people are being overlooked,
all people need encouraged,
and the investment and development of others takes time and commitment.
Significant Theme #3
When adults pause to consider their setting as a whole, they recognize:
the Spirit’s movement in their midst as a guide,
the role they might play,
and the tension of both details and big picture thinking.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he desires to point out the incredible joy he finds in these believers and what an encouragement they have been to him. Paul speaks of his own journey of faith (theme #1), what he recognizes in others (theme #2), and his hope for them as a whole (theme #3). When we pause, we naturally consider these things as well.
Are you making space to pause?
Are you encouraging others to pause?
How is your unique setting hitting the pause button these days?
Paul closes his letter to the Philippians with the sensitivity Eugene Peterson came to understand as the role of a witness who seeks to point out and name what is already going on. As I witnessed the Spirit at work in the lives of those who attended the Enriching Retreat I could not but see the robust role God desires to play within us, through us and among us.
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (NLT).
1 Eugene H. Peterson, A Memoir, The Pastor, (Harper One, 2011), p 6.