What I Take Away From A Life-Changing Experience

Random observations from 18 months of the Apprentice Experience:

  • I have become a fan of Wichita, Kansas. I have the shirt to prove it. Not a bad smaller big city.
  • I have always liked Scot McKnight. His blog is one of the best things on the internet. Getting to hear him speak on theology, Christology, and soteriology sounds really dry when I write it but he always makes these topics accessible. The best part, though, was finding a library with a TV in a Catholic retreat center so that Scot and the rest of us could watch his beloved Cubs in the World Series.
  • My small group, made up of five individuals – a California pastor, a Kansas youth pastor, a California matriarch, and a Kansas graduate student – has been consistently one of the highlights of our gatherings. We have bonded over meals, over texts, and in our scheduled time together. They are loving, interesting, and authentic people.
  • Just about everyone in our Community would be someone who I could sit down with right now and have a conversation that weaves elements of Spiritual Formation and discipleship without any hesitation. I have lived most of my Christian life having to pick and choose the ways I talk about these things because people look at me like I am speaking a foreign language. It is nice to find my tribe.
  • My biggest takeaways have involved intense personal conviction. One gathering included me coming to grips with my overly critical nature. One forced me to evaluate what it means to forgive and how to do it. I became more vulnerable by intentionally seeking out social opportunities with my fellow AErs instead of slinking to my own personal space.
  • There is always a two-hour stretch sometime during the Gathering weeks that we spend in complete silence. I spent one of these times walking through the Stations of the Cross. I would just sit on a bench in front of each station and take in the station. When I got to the station where Jesus is taken down from the cross I couldn’t see the image on the stone because the sun was shining so brightly in my eyes. The exact angle that I was sitting mixed with the timing of the day made it to where even the darkness of Christ’s temporary death was not visible.
  • All of our readings have influenced the blog. My posts on lament, the times I tried to tell my story, my discussion of vulnerability, and others have been directly inspired by something I read from our assigned readings. I so enjoyed the excuse to reread Dallas Willard‘s classics The Divine Conspiracy and Renovation of the Heart.
  • This final gathering will be a little different as we will be in Southern California at a retreat center in Sierra Madre. This will be an interesting change of scenery from Kansas. Our guest teacher will be Shane Claiborne and the overall theme will be community. I so need this time away in rest, contemplation, and community.
  • I want to say a special thank you to many of you who have contributed to my fund-raising efforts to make this all possible. Some of you contributed graciously and generously. You may not realize it but your contribution paved the way for the learning and transformation that has shaped the best parts of this blog and the best parts of my efforts at doing kingdom work in my job and in my church. Your contribution has not gone to waste, I can assure you.

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