Finding My Voice: Experiencing Transformation in Community
Continuing the story of Transforming Community: After Transforming Community #1 (TC 1) concluded, there was a sense that others might want to join the journey as well; an invitation was offered a little more widely to start Transforming Community #2 and 26 people accepted. In this group were several spouses from those in TC 1 – some of whom were a little wary about what they might be getting themselves into! The larger group necessitated the change of venue which led us to Marytown Retreat and Conference Center in Libertyville, IL where we have happily retreated ever since. Dalene Strieff was a part of TC 2, and has been Ruth’s right hand woman ever since; Rory Noland, who later became the Transforming Center’s worship leader, was in this community as well.
Finding My Voice
When I heard my wife, Adele, and another one of my coworkers at church describe their experience at the Transforming Center, it created a hunger in me for a similar experience of community and growth. At the first retreat I remember sitting in that room with 26 other people who would become Transforming Community #2, wondering just what God in mind for me. I discovered that I had lots of defense mechanisms against being vulnerable and looking foolish, and I had a lot to learn. After all, I was entering into the field of my wife’s expertise – not mine.
Over the months together, the gift of those loving brothers and sisters helped me learn to live my own experience and not someone else’s, to speak with my own voice and not my wife’s. For me, these retreats became like a sanctuary city. As soon as that candle was lit in the center, I found myself entering into a place of peace and love with God and the community. I could safely share what was going in my heart and in my ministry.
The readings, the teaching, the times of community sharing, and especially my small group were all places where I was able to grapple with many of the false self issues that were hindering my growth in Christ. Being accepted, being loved, and being encouraged on the journey made an enormous difference in my ongoing spiritual development.
Finding a New Way to Do Ministry
The Transforming Community also changed the way I began to do ministry in my own areas of expertise. The spiritual rhythms we were introduced to and practiced became central elements of the way I led teams of laypeople and then later, as a senior pastor, how I led our elders, staff and congregation.
Now in my current season of ministry, my primary focus is on spiritual formation. I can still see the fruit being born from those Transforming Community retreats. I give thanks to God for the opportunity to participate in the spiritual adventure offered through the Transforming Center.
As part of our 15-year anniversary celebration we are sharing stories and testimonies from each completed Transforming Community to celebrate all the Lord has done. We hope these stories will inspire you to continue to go deeper in your relationship with God, draw you into celebration of all the Lord has done, and encourage you to partner with us in all He has yet to do!
© 2017 Doug Calhoun
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