ministries / Vital Congregations
Spritiual Life Retreats, Workshops, and Trainings
A retreat, workshop, or training can be designed around any of these topics based on your specific needs and the amount of time that you can make available. Other topics may be available upon request. Click here to contact Nancy Dibelius, Assistant Director of Vital Congregations for Spiritual Life for the Upper New York Conference.
Understanding the different stages that an individual moves through in the disciple-forming process enables leaders to more effectively support, nurture, and engage individuals and groups within a congregation. If you imagine the stages of spiritual development as a series of concentric circles; the outer circle is that stage where an individual becomes aware, perhaps for the first time, of God and the very beginnings of desire to better know and understand God. The innermost circle is that place where the individual is no longer about I, but about Christ who lives in me; that place where God is and the individual is fully aware of God’s presence and their focus is to be transformed into the image of God.
How do I understand where an individual/congregation is in this movement? How do I companion an individual/a congregation wherever they may be on this journey; how do I offer them a sense of invitation/a deep desire to continue to move closer to God?
If you do not fully know and understand yourself, then authenticity, integrity, honesty are often difficult to fully honor as you seek to live in a community with others. Why do I always do that annoying thing, why are certain individuals more challenging than others, why do I always find a particular task difficult, why do certain behaviors in others always elicit an unhealthy response in me? Those are just a few of the questions that we encounter as we seek to live in healthy relationships with others. Personality inventories, like Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, spirituality type, as well as spiritual gifts and learning styles all influence our behavior and our responses to others. If we do not understand fundamental aspects of our personality, then we are unaware of why those things lead us to behave in certain ways even when those behaviors are clearly unhealthy for us and for our relationships with others. What does it mean to be an INFP, an ESTJ, a 9 or a 3 and how does that affect my behaviors and my relationships; how can I respond to that in a healthy way? How can I live more fully into the imago Dei that God intended for me?
What was my relationship with God like when I was a child? How did my parents/family members express their relationship with God? What were key moments when my understanding of/relationship with God changed? As individuals explore events in their lives that can now be understood as having impacted their relationship with God, why did they have the impact they did, how might they be understood differently when explored through a different lens? How can greater clarity about the past inform a healthier now? We will create our "river of life" stories as we explore the nature of our relationship with God.
Prayer often seems to be a challenge for many of us; we do not always have clarity as to what prayer really means; what does it look like; what makes it authentic and honest. If prayer, at its most basic, is a dialogue with God that seeks to draw me closer into my relationship with God, what do I say/ask of God, how do I truly listen to God’s voice. Scripture offers some of the most profound and honest prayer, there are ancient prayers from the earliest days of the Christian faith, there are ancient practices that lead us into deeper places where we find God; we will explore and experience many of these as ways that can help us more fully “pray without ceasing.”
Times of conflict and impasse are difficult times to navigate, but they are also times when ‘new life’ is just beneath the surface waiting to be birthed. We will explore the "dark night of the soul" experience and the ways in which it can offer guidance through the difficult and challenging times and places in our lives. As we lean into a deeper understanding of the dark night experience and how God lives and moves in those times, we find guidance and insight into how we might better understand and live into the ways in which God is moving in the conflict in our present. How can we be healthier and less anxious in the difficult places.
From the Latin word that means "to distinguish between," discernment is a practice that enables us to "distinguish" the movement of God in our lives, to listen for and hear the "still small voice," to recognize what is of God and separate that from what is of the world. Starting with practices articulated by Ignatius, we will explore ways in which we can become more effective at discerning God in the midst of whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in, both individually and communally.
A Rule of Life is a pattern of daily actions that are chosen to accomplish something specific. For Christians, the intent is to focus our attention continually on God; to organize our lives in such a way as to always seek to be present to and aware of God and the God moments in our lives. We will explore how to design a rule of life; one not intended to make our life restrictive, but to offer a structure within which we can stay centered and focused on God.