Jesus called his Disciples to leave their current context and follow him. Sometimes he led them up a mountain for retreat; sometimes he sent them into a new city for ministry; other times they wandered a foreign territory meeting new people. Immersion experiences pull Disciples out of the familiar and immerse them in a new way of life where they can be attentive to God at work.
Intentional Faith Development means learning to recognize Christ around you and the need sometimes to pull away from the familiar and immerse yourself in something new to see and hear Christ again.
Immersion experiences help a Disciple grow to by:
Learning to be present where you are and to the people around you.
Learning to recognize Christ’s presence wherever you go and whomever you meet.
Some examples of transforming Immersion Experiences:
These opportunities can be for a weekend, a week, or more. They can be done alone or as a group. They can be on the other side of town or the other side of the world. The main goal is for the Disciple to experience God’s guidance and presence in a context different from his/her familiar comfort zone.
“Being present involves letting go of our constant preoccupations, immersing ourselves in the here and now, and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever is at hand.” –Trevor Hudson, A Mile in My Shoes
In the familiar daily life, we tend to tune out God’s voice, our own deepest thoughts, and the needs of our neighbor. To retrain ourselves to be present, Disciples need to be immersed in a new situation to learn to be attentive, see, and listen again. After an immersion encounter and reflection, Disciples can experience deep transformation and become more deeply attentive to God’s work in their daily life.
For more local, short-term opportunities- Consider inviting church members to a one day silent retreat in a city park, or taking a one day pilgrimage to an impoverished side of town or a historic or spiritual site of impact.
For all church leaders- including the Pastor- Make the expectation of taking one spiritual retreat annually as a participant not a leader and including it in your church calendar and/ or budget.