Who We Are Palanca
Newsletter President
Secretariats Annual meeting
Archives Sp. Director
Locator Contact Us New Movement Links

NEW MOVEMENT OUTREACH

1998 NLS DISCUSSION

Introduction:

My name is Doug Burrows and I made my Via de Cristo weekend in the spring of 1985 at the Columbus, Ohio, Cursillo center. The weekend was Lutheran Men's #11, where I sat at the table of Mark. I have been married to my wife, Kathie, now for 34 years. We have two daughters, Jennifer and Lisa. Jennifer is married and has given us two beautiful grandsons. Jennifer and her husband, Kevin, live right near here in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Our second daughter, Lisa, is living in Columbus, near our home in Westerville, Ohio. She is a research biologist with Battelle Laboratories in Columbus. Lisa is also working on her masters at Ohio State University.

I am a self-employed insurance agent. I have owned my business for the past 21 years. Kathie is with the Kroger Food Company, where she is responsible for the computerized pricing and employee payroll time-keeping. As for hobbies, we like to travel, and have been many places together. Our second vocation has been our love for the Via de Cristo. We have served on team more than a few weekends and visited around the country on several occasions. I don't know that I could list all of our activities, but suffice it to say they have been serving our Lord. We find the Via de Cristo to be home to many wonderful people. Well, enough for the Via de Cristo introduction. Today I am here to present some thoughts and ideas for the National Board as the Vice President of Outreach. It is with some trepidation that I approach this subject, even though I am the Vice President of Outreach for the NLS. This is because I am speaking from a single point of view, and there are many wise minds available to add or subtract to what I say. I will begin, but in the end all of you are responsible for this movement's future. My prayer is that I can stir up your thought process. I wish to thank you for being here this weekend and for spending this time in the effort to expand our Lord's work. Please pray the prayer of the Holy Spirit with me.

Empowerment:

Let me begin with a passage of scripture. Ephesians 3:20-21.

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, and in Christ Jesus the church and Christ Jesus to all generations forever and forever. Amen.

I would like you to mark these two verses down and throughout this dissertation today, to review them.

The Via de Cristo has a single purpose. I understand that purpose to be: To convert Christians to a deeper relationship with God and to help then understand their individual callings to be Christian leaders.

The Via de Cristo has a goal: to change the World.

The Via de Cristo has a strategy: to provide a backbone of Christian life in every environment.

Via de Cristo is a movement that has three distinct phases.

1. Pre Via de Cristo

2. The Three Day Weekend

3. Post Vis de Cristo

In Christ's Great Commission, we are told to go into the world and to proclaim the Gospel. We in the Via de Cristo take this obligation seriously, we make intentional Christianity our business. We wish to spread the intentional witness of our faith, and God's grace to the world around us. We do this by leading our Christian brothers and sisters in the work of the Church. Now I want to make this very clear to you. We are of the Church and not the church. We are leaders, some lay and some clergy. We are leaders because we take the initiative to spread the Gospel of Christ at God's command, with the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. If this were a write down it would be Ephesians 3:8-10.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as the result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

In Rom.10:13-17.

For "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!" However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" so faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.

Who of the Via de Cristo is able to do any of the work of God without the help of the Holy Spirit? Scripture gives us the work, the knowledge to do the work, and the resources help to get it done. We must always remember and believe that power phrase we have all heard from the weekend:

Christ and I are an overwhelming majority.

As we undertake the work of the Via de Cristo we need to remember our role in the process. You know, God chose to make us and did so in His image. We are not a necessity for God. He is completely able to exist and perform His will with or without US. Even Satan and all his angels are going to report to God. They, too, are not needed by God. He does all of this for His will and purpose and by His Grace. I do not wish you to think you have no reason for being. I simply want you to make no mistake about Whose we are and what we are about.

I would like to tell you a short story to make a point. My daughter called on the day of my first grandson's birth to share her news. During that phone conversation, I asked her if she had received and kept "the book". Now, if you live in my house for any period of time you would realize that every once in a while I get some different thoughts. Jennifer simply thought I was nuts and, "What are you talking about?" was her reply. I responded, the book of instructions that came an Will's arm. I wasn't quick enough at Jennifer's birth to recover my instruction book for her, but if she was able to get her book for Will, I wanted to read it. Her response was, "Oh Dad!!" Well, this passed and I said nothing more. Then came the time for James to be born. I had the good fortune to be in Oklahoma, meeting with a gathering of Pastors and the Bishop to discuss the beginnings of a new secretariate for the Oklahoma/Arkansas Synod at the time of James' birth. To make it even better I was scheduled to fly that evening to Milwaukee for the Via de Cristo mid-year conference. As a result, by 10 PM on the evening of James' birth, I was standing in my daughter's hospital room holding my precious grandson. I asked the question again, "Did you get the book"? She gave me that father-daughter look that said, I love you but you have gone nuts again. Well I hadn't gone nuts. God had just given her one of His most precious gifts, and to me a brand new opportunity for tomorrow. Remember I reared two daughters. Now I had two grandsons. Well, there was no book and I knew it. God is so good that He builds into us all the tools we need to rear and nurture a child . He has all the confidence in the world to risk these two boys into the hands of my daughter and son-in-law. He adds only to what He has made by giving us the Word of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. So there is no way you are not ready for His work, whether it be in New Movement Outreach or in your own life. We have all we need, to care for His children. I believe its time to look at those verses again. He is able to do all exceedingly abundantly. To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ to all generations. Can we make a difference? Without question. Will we make the difference? Not a chance. It is not us but Christ in us working His will. We are the tools for His work.

I once took a course offered in my home congregation called Witnesses for Christ. It was a training manual for witnessing. It focused on setting the climate for outreach. We examined the health of the congregation, and an action model of a congregation. We studied overcoming our fears, and our listening skills. We shared my story, His story, and being sensitive to their story. We did all of this to be made ready for His work. The point of this discussion is to say, you are ready. You have been baptized into Christ, and the only thing you need beyond yourself is the word of God, and the power of the Holy spirit. We make it so hard at times to witness, because we get in our own way. God is trying to use what He has made. Us!! He is doing the work, we aren't. This is a very important concept to remember as we go about trying to create new movements. We are the sowers of the seed. God will send the Harvester at the proper time. We witness, we do not change or convert. The power of the Holy spirit is responsible for that.

Nomenclature of the Movement:

Let's discuss the nomenclature of this movement we call Via de Cristo for a few moments. The structure is really from the bottom up, if you will. The single most important unit is the Christian who is empowered to witness in his/her environments. This is a witness that will make a difference for Christ. From that point on we are structuring a method, to help God empower the Christian. Notice I have been saying Christian. We are a renewal movement for existing Christians and not a ministry to some aspect of the world. Our mission is to excite Christians, Christian leaders to be more precise. The structure of the movement then is the Community, the team, the local Secretariat, and the National Secretariat. Please note the order. They are from the top down.

Community: A body of Christians sharing their lives together in small support groups and coming together in local geographic areas to encourage one another.

Team/Servants: An organized small group of community members charged with the conduct of the three day weekend experience. Sometimes referred to as "staff".

Secretariat: The Secretariat can be described as a group of leaders, lay and clergy, presented by the community to orientate, animate and serve the community. They lead the community so that it may be all, and only, that which it ought to be as a movement.

National Secretariat: A group of lay and clergy leaders called by the communities to illuminate, coordinate and unify, respecting the essence, purpose and methodology of the movement.

New secretariates then means new community first, team formation second, Secretariats last. This is the way many of the secretariates here today began. There is one difference that can, and many times does come into play. We are often caused to create the Secretariat before the team in order to form order. When this is done it is likely that the members of the Secretariat will be the center of the team.

Examples:

#1. I would like to present some scenarios of different formations. The first would be South Florida. Here, there were three men who met with the Catholic leaders to learn about and experience the Catholic Cursillo weekend. This all began in 1965. It was not until 1972 that the first Lutheran weekend was held. The team was not all Lutheran, however. It was comprised of Catholics as well. There was something else of note and that is the leadership was clergy, Pastor Ed Simonson and Father Tom Berry. This is worth noting because it illustrates the importance of Clergy in the beginnings. We can witness this same format occurring in Iowa. Pastor Runkel and his wife attended a Catholic weekend then encouraged others to begin the work in Iowa. Pastor Gene Hermeier and Bishop Bruno Schlachtenhaufen were also very operative in the Iowa secretariat beginnings.

In Atlanta, Pastor Ed Simonson convinced eight pastors to add their support. Gold Coast in Florida was begun at Advent Lutheran by Pastor Ron Dingle. In North Carolina, there were five men who went to attend weekends in Atlanta as result of a trip to North Carolina by Pastor Bill Corkish. Of those original five, three were pastors.

The same story occurred again, for Pittsburgh, Eastern North Carolina, Ohio (although Ohios' founder was then a seminary student, now a pastor and part of the original men from south Florida). The point is that the clergy are in a very good position to influence the beginnings of a new Secretariat. We should begin the process of including the clergy each and every time we reach out to begin a new effort.

The second point of interest is that in most of these locations, the community was built through the help of outside communities. Initially, they were Catholic but as in the case of Pittsburgh, Episcopal. It is also of note that there must be community before the process of forming the Secretariat will begin. In the written history of Sonbeam Via de Cristo, there is the statement, "As our community grew, we were able to form group reunions and then Ultreya was formed. Finally our numbers were large enough to form our own Secretariat." Again, I believe this is a key to the start up of a new secretariates.

As you can see, there was the input form clergy, other movements, and the building up of a nucleus in all these foundations. Yet more importantly, in all of these secretariates, there were some individuals who invited other individuals to join. I believe that the most important key to all of the efforts made, was the work of the Holy Spirit. God will go where He will. We need to be sensitive to His calling and not let any opportunity pass.

#2. Another way a secretariat will begin, is by splitting from an existing community. We have seen two cases of note. The first was Pittsburgh and the second Rainbow. There is a different set of problems that will arise when this happens. I will compare it to the child leaving the nest. As parents, we rear our children to leave home, but when they do we are somewhat reluctant to see them go. We may even hold them back and this can cause problems. As children, we want to run, and many times we don't treat our parents with the respect due them in the process. We need to have a strong supportive relationship for this separation to succeed. I believe that in the case of Almost Heaven in West Virginia, there was to much of a hurry to separate from Pittsburgh, and as result, Almost Heaven survived for a while but then collapsed. Pittsburgh was weakened by the process and has had the problem of recovery for their own community. The case of Rainbow/Vineyard was some what different. There still was the potential of the youngster running too fast and the adult trying to hold on, but they worked together to resolve how both communities could be sustained. Today, both the Rainbow of Virginia and the Vineyard of Maryland are with us, and both are healthy.

I believe this particular division of communities to be of additional note, because it points out the need of people to be close to their homes. Distance will be accepted for a while, but it is better if there is an effort to establish a working community in a smaller area. I would suggest a 50-mile radius as an example. When you must travel for over an hour to be involved, it becomes more and more difficult to build and involve the community.

An example of distances being worked out in other ways, is furnished by Minnesota's community. They have one Secretariat, but many weekend locations. This has been the result of using mobile equipment. They go on the road to hold the weekend in smaller geographic areas while at the same time maintaining one body. Ohio is in the process of doing the same. These are points to remember when building new communities. How are your secretariats doing? Are they stretched too far? Are they holding community back in their efforts to build new communities? Are you going through the parent-child relationship change.

#3. In Utah we find an opportunity to speak of how Minnesota reached out with time, money, and people to begin a new community. Three pastors based in Utah had attended Minnesota weekends. Through the leadership of these pastors sending lay people from their congregations back to Minnesota, a small community built in Utah. Minnesota then worked to raise the funds and a team to travel to Utah for their first set of weekends. The people who attended those weekends were the beginnings of the Utah secretariate.

Notice here again we have pastoral leadership, outside movement help and community. There is one outstanding point made in the book titled "History of Via de Cristo" about the effort in Utah, and that is the statement that there was one persistent lay person urging his pastor to make the trip back to Minnesota for the experience of a Via de Cristo weekend. While pastors are in a natural place of leadership, we must not forget the influence of dedicated lay people.

#4. Here is another example to set before you -- the example of Finland. In this case, we made the trip to Finland to speak with the Lutheran Church of Finland. We convinced them of the merit of the Via de Cristo and asked that they send a group to the United States to experience one of our weekends. This resulted in their also examining other countries movements for examples of Cursillo and the structuring of their own expression. Finland will have a weekend in the fall of this year, and it will be Finnish. Not only do we see pastoral leadership, but an affirmative effort by the organized church to make the difference. In addition, we can see an example of reaching out to new areas as an intentional act on the part of NLS.

In all four of the pictures created by our examples, we find that the leadership came from the power of the Holy Spirit moving through the church. Doors were opened and the people were ready to move to make a difference.

Focus:

I have been speaking of the different ways individual secretariates have come into being. Yet there are more important pieces of this topic we need to examine. Look again at the reason or the purpose of having this movement. To convert Christians to a deeper relationship with God and to help them to understand their individual callings to be Christian leaders.

We can examine this focus by reviewing the three phases of Via de Cristo. Our secretariates have a need, and I repeat that it is a need, to keep in focus. We need to be focused in all three phases of the movement.

Perhaps the primary loss of focus, is our loss of vision. Examples of this vision loss would be:

Using only part of the method, i.e., putting on weekends, without the other activities.Using the movement for limited purposes only, such as, "building up a congregation".

Individuals using the movement as "the" church instead of recognizing it as part of the larger Church.

Using the Via de Cristo as a way to solve problems within the Church.

The remedy for this loss of vision is to focus on the basics, and to study the purpose, and the application of this method of renewal. Our Secretariats need to spend deliberate time with their communities as well as to offer leadership workshops or schools to aid in focusing the community on the goals of the entire "method". I am convinced that we send people through the weekend experience and they come out concentrating on the warm fuzzies. They need to concentrate on the goals. If we would spend time on training our teams and community workers in the basics of the entire method, we would be much better off as a movement. Remember that back in south Florida the original founders went through a year of training before they could attend their weekend. The Catholic Cursillo movement felt it was imperative that they understood what this movement was about. We must get better at this ourselves.

A second area of vision loss in our movement is the Pre-Via de Cristo. If our goal is to empower Christian leaders who can affect their environments, we must seek out those persons who are in positions of influence within different environments already. Through the three day experience, and the Fourth Day program, we can provide them with the tools and support they need to make a difference for Christ. The desired candidates for our weekends should be natural leaders who have the capacity and opportunity to change their environments. Our teams should be carefully molded to aid in this process. Selection of candidates will have a direct bearing on the life, health, and expansion of our communities. Again, we must spend time doing a study of the environments we wish to change. Eduardo Bonnin, one of the founders of Cursillo in Spain, at a Roman Catholic Grand Ultreya in Detroit two years ago, asked the question, "Where are the environments that have been changed?" His point was that the measure of a movements is not how many but what are you doing to change the world for Christ. I ask you, how are we doing?

A third area of vision loss is the Post Via de Cristo. We will be unable to keep our secretariates healthy, let alone start new ones, if we fail in the Fourth Day. I believe this is the most difficult aspect of the Via de Cristo to maintain. How many pilgrims are active in the movement from your weekend? If we really understood the reasons for the falling away of pilgrims, we would be far better off than we are at present. Even at the national level, we are always encouraging each Secretariat to send representation for this meeting. I am convinced we need to present the Group reunion and Ultreya rollos during our weekend experiences in a more effective manner. Each Secretariat must spend more time and effort in understanding the Fourth Day and communicating that understanding to its people. Hopefully, we will be able to use this new tool called the Internet to aid us in this effort. As people come away from their weekends, they must be linked with others in group reunion and participate in Ultreya. This linking is truly the responsibility of sponsorship. There is no way I can emphasize this enough. We must involve our people in group reunion and Ultreya. We must have strong Secretariats, active themselves, and growing if we expect to be able to begin new secretariates. There is simply no way we can start new secretariates with weak efforts from within our existing secretariates. Let me state that large numbers of people in the secretariate does not mean strength. Understanding, dedication and purpose from a few will do much more than numbers. New efforts have always started out with a small number of persons of purpose. We must model the Fourth Day at every level of the Via de Cristo. Do not be afraid to make use of the basics. They have worked for many years and will do so in the future, not because of us, but because of Christ.

Offerings of the NLS:

We have produced some aids for new secretariates at the Nation Lutheran Secretariat. We can send presenters for use in explaining the Via de Cristo. We can send our brochures and tapes. We have outlines of the talks and manuals that can be shared. We can counsel on how the Secretariat structure might best be organized. We can give advice on how to set up a tax free corporation. However, each scenario will be unique. We will need to custom build it each time we begin.

I have felt the strong urge to present this talk in slides and outlines of all of the mechanics. However, in the end I kept coming back to the need to express how we can be healthy and strong. Active energized people searching out our Lord is what each Secretariat began with. Let us consider the task of creating the energized people first. The mechanics will come as needed. Please do not think mechanics are unimportant. They are important, but it is the people that bring the opportunity to use the mechanics.

Ways We Can Begin a New Effort.

Let us consider for a moment ways to "think out of the box", as Randy Mullin said to me in one of our conversations. He told me the story of Living Waters beginning, and how it connected with a Presbyterian Secretariat in Rochelle, Illinois. This was a Tres Dias community, and between the two communities the were able to organize enough people to begin weekends. Have you thought of connecting with another nearby movement, just to get things going when you know you will be on your own as a Secretariat in the future?

Have you looked at yourselves and asked how can we involve more of our people in the movement? We are large in numbers and have long waiting list for team service and for pilgrims. This may seem like success but in the end it is putting willing people off. Could you divide your numbers to create new opportunities for more people?

Are you a secretariate that has a commonality with others that you are not exploiting? Perhaps like in Tennessee. They have a movement started in the east and enjoy a good relationship with Western North Carolina, but are they looking west to their fellow Tennesseeans. Or perhaps you are on the edge of a synod and are working with your neighbor and not your own synod.

Are you a good Lutheran Secretariat and not talking with our other denominational brothers? You know there are many churches just full of God's children. They can help.

In the next section of this presentation, I will present some ideas of how we might begin the process of forming new Secretariats. We will look at them together and then I will ask for discussion. After we have had a chance to discuss in the large group, we will break out into small groups and discuss how you or your Secretariat might aid in starting new Secretariats.

1. We can increase our own size and stature as Secretariats. Create a team of individuals to approach the synod Bishop and the church pastors in the synod. Use the Leaders Manual, brochures, and videos from the NLS to aid in describing our mission and purpose to the church in your area of service.

2. Seek the help of pastor-on-pastor contacts, using the clergy already active in your Secretariat. They all wish to strengthen their congregations and evangelize neighborhoods. Your pastor may be able to be convincing where you cannot.

3. Keep track of your people as they move about in their work or life to new areas. Knowing someone in an area can lead to the beginnings of new formations, especially the clergy in our movement.

4. Seek contacts with our brother/sister movements in your area. There may be opportunity to gain help in a weak area you are now responsible for as a Secretariat.

5. Target new geographical areas by seeking strong church congregations in the area targeted. Take the message to their pastor and lay leadership. Invite them to send representatives to your weekends. Support their financial needs to enable them to attend your weekends to begin with. Perhaps you might volunteer clergy or lay people to handle Sunday worship while they are attending a weekend.

6. Target specific environments into which to introduce the Via de Cristo, such as medical communities, legal communities, large employers, government workers city, county, and state. Sometimes even nearby military bases can offer environments to be evangelized. These types of people tend to move around in their employment but will usually stay in the same or similar work fields. This fulfills our mission and at the same time acts, as seed sowing.

7. Set your community up on a web site and link it to the national site. We can communication very quickly and inexpensively within this environment. This will allow new people moving into your area a way to contact you. It will also offer you contacts to refer your people to when they leave your area.

8. Review your training practices as a Via de Cristo community. Do your people have a thorough understanding of the nature of the movement, its purpose and direction? Do you have a Fourth Day training offering? How have you trained your team workers in understanding the full basics of the movement? What can you do to better enable them to properly represent the movement?

9. When reaching out to new areas don't re-invent the wheel. Contact the National for help or other movements that are presently working in the area targeted. You can save your self much time and money if you use what is already in place until you have the ability to construct your own superstructure.

10. Talk to God about man before you talk to man about God. Remember to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. Don't try to do it for Him. Pray first, last and always.

Question and answer period:

Breakout Session:

Dialog on the subject matter presented. Question and answer.

Set up break out discussion groups of eight persons. Using the 10 statements as guide, identify your top five and an outline to achieve them as a goal for your Secretariat.

Using a chart paper or board list the top five to determine if we have similar needs. Make certain everyone takes home some idea.

© 2010 National Lutheran Secretariat
Web Servant: Larry Conway