The What and Who of Meandering About

Friday, June 19, 2015

Commissioning Not Capstone - Footsteps of Faith

I just returned home from a ten day adventure with a group of recent high school graduates. This experience is part of a program we call Footsteps of Faith. The young people who participate each year meet every week from September through the beginning of April. Along the way, they explore faith and scripture on a deeper level, investigate vocation (calling), and are sent by the church toward and into what is next with a blessing to be a blessing. The experience ends with the group traveling together following the footsteps of the Apostle Paul. This was the fifteenth year for this program. It has not only transformed the lives of the young people and adult leaders who have participated, but it has also changed the church in ways we could have never imagined or anticipated. 

As we were returning home yesterday, I asked the students to reflect on their experience in a word or phrase. Here is what they said...
Unforgettable 
Blessed
Petrichor - the smell and feeling after it rains. The nice feeling that something beautiful is about to come.
Spiritual calling
Life changing
Timeless
Impactful 
Community 
Answers many questions - it connects us better to the people and our faith but also brings questions to mind. 
Unreal 
Thought provoking
An amazing trip filled with many new friends. 
This trip is like a puzzle: The pieces are constantly being put into place, but you can't fully appreciate how powerful it is, until it is complete.
The fire of my faith has been re-lit. 
Celestial
Enlightening 
Eye opening 
Experience that connected so many aspects of my faith into one. 
Incredible experience
Prepared to take on what's next. 

These words bear witness to the past as well as the potential of Footsteps of Faith. It has been and continues to be a commissioning and not a capstone experience for those who participate. This year the experience has left me wondering how in our search for meaningful, memorable, and transformative opportunities for our young people (as well as others in our communities) we might imagine more ways to commission them toward and into what is next. 

The beautiful thing about a commissioning is that it acknowledges that the experience, the present, is only a small part of a much bigger story which extends out into an unknown future and sends people into it with a blessing. These experiences can serve as a point that connects that which was, that which is, and that which is yet to be. A commissioning is a sacred trust of sorts. It can signal that even though we do not know what may be around the next bend, but we trust one another and the God who guides us as we walk into that unknown. 

By contrast, a capstone experience has the potential to send a different message. A capstone experience may mark that the experience is over and done with and can serve to over romanticize the past. A capstone is an end. Nothing can be added after it. 

A commissioning is a beginning. Everything is yet to come.  

In a faith where we claim God to be the God of what was, what is, and what is yet to come, perhaps we need to use divine imagination to think of ways in which we can provide experiences that connect people with one another and the mystery that is their life. What do you imagine?

I am thankful for this program, for the participants, and for what we have yet to learn about how to make it even more meaningful. 

Looking ahead to what is yet to be...




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