VDC and Clergy?

VDC Spiritual Director, Pastor Sharon Walker:

Via de Cristo is a 72 hours intensive study of what it means to walk in the way of Christ. For each person the experience is unique, so I could tell you about mine yet yours would most likely be completely different. I attended my weekend over 20 years ago as a lay person at the invitation of a dear friend who just happened to be a Pastor. He said this weekend was a time of renewal and a way to grow leaders in the congregation. I was already a leader in my congregation. What the VdC did for me was bring me into a closer relationship with God and truly did lead into greater leadership roles in the congregation and in the church at large.

I can assure each and every person reading this letter that there is nothing mysterious or secretive about a weekend. Each person will hear the same talks by lay people and by clergy. Each person will seat at a table and learn how to form a small community who can work together for the common good even though they may not be like minded (sound like working on a committee in church?). There is always lots of food, fellowship, worship, singing, and time for meditation. If you are considering attending a weekend and have questions, I would be glad to talk with you about any questions or concerns you might have.

My weekend was a pivotal moment in my spiritual growth. I continue to rely on lessons learned during that weekend as I now serve the Lord as a Pastor in the Church.

Pastor Sharon Walker,
Christ Lutheran Church,

National VDC Spiritual Director, Pastor Doug Givan:

The Via de Cristo is an exciting lay lead movement to grow Christian leaders it is the Lutheran expression of the three day retreats that many denominations have. There are weekends for men and women only as well as co-ed. During the weekend your folks would hear talks on the Christian walk (things like study, piety, and action), enjoy wonderful fellowship, and worship, along with great food and fun.

Once your congregation has completed a weekend they are equipped and sent back to serve the Lord with greater zeal and passion. Pray for us and don’t hesitate to contact me for additional information. I have served on teams since 1996 and now serve as the National Spiritual Director for this great mission of Christ: to make disciples and raise strong Christian leaders.

There are separate weekends for men and women. In the case of married individuals, the husband normally attends first (but not all the time).The Via de Cristo is not structured to solve one’s deep-seated personal problems. It is designed to provide to those attending a deeper understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Pr. Doug Givan

What does ELCA Bishop Emeritus Stuck think of Via de Cristo?

“Via de Cristo is a powerful, Spirit-fed and Spirit-led movement of our church. I have been privileged to attend a weekend and also be a spiritual director for other weekends. Lives are changed and the ministry of the people of God is enhanced by the congregation’s involvement in Via de Cristo. I would encourage all pastors and leaders of our congregations to be in prayer asking for the Spirit’s leading in finding a way for the message of God’s grace in Jesus to be proclaimed and the walk in the “Way of Christ” to be encouraged through this ministry.”

Pr Jim Stuck

A weekend and all this, really?

If you have not made a weekend then please prayerfully consider this as a gift to yourself. We make it very easy for pastors and AIM’s to attend. Pastors who have gone before you have benefited greatly from this weekend.

If you are a Lutheran Pastor, your weekend will be paid for along with the cost of a supply pastor for your congregation

All that we ask is that, if you appreciate the weekend (as we believe you will), you “pay it forward” to someone else by paying the way for them later.

What do other pastors have to say?

Pr. Heather Apel, Assistant to the Bishop

Our God is an Awesome God! This is a three-day retreat where participants will walk the way of Christ – the Via de Cristo. They will hear messages shared by both pastors and lay people, as well as worship together and spend time in fellowship. I have found it to be a wonderful opportunity for both pastors and the people of the congregations they serve to come and experience the love and grace of God in a new way.

 This three-day retreat is an opportunity for Christians to deepen their faith an understanding of God as they hear messages that share a basic discipleship patter for living one’s life walking in the way of Christ.

 As a pastor, I am glad that I have attended this retreat and continue to be involved in this community by helping lead weekends for other Christians. If you have not experienced a weekend like this, I would encourage you to consider attending. It will not only give you a time of spiritual renewal, but will till then allow you to share this experience with the congregation you serve as you encourage others to attend.

Pr. Heather Apel,
Assistant to the Bishop

Pastor David Maki, Southwest Lutheran Church

At Southwest Lutheran we have found VDC to be one of the best ways to train and mentor our people into positions of spiritual leadership. The strength of VDC is the establishing of Christ centered relationships where the values of prayer, spiritual growth and accountability are lived out. Any pastor who is concerned about growing strong lay leadership should consider sending them to a VDC weekend.

Pastor David Maki,
Southwest Lutheran Church,
Fort Wayne, IN

Pastor Dave Shockey, Hebron Lutheran Church 

Via de Cristo is not just a short, intense course in Christian living; it is also a short, effective course in Christian Leadership. Whoever experiences VDC with an open mind and hear twill not only be boosted to a new level in their love relationship with God, but also in their leadership for God in their home, their workplace, their neighborhood, and especially their church.

Via de Cristo does not supplant involvement in a local church, but enhances and expands it. After experiencing God’s amazing grace and love for them through Via de Cristo, these men and women come back energized and equipped to serve and lead in the church. They are more welcoming, inviting, giving, and hungry for learning, volunteering, helping and serving than ever before. Our congregation is experiencing an incredible blessing of new energy, creativity, growth and love as a result of Via de Cristo.

I have been pastor here 22 years, and my greatest regret is that I didn’t go myself or get Via de Cristo started in the parish sooner than I did! If it will help any Pastor experience for him or herself, I would consider it a privilege to personally pay all your costs to attend, including paying for your supply pastor, — anything just so you can experience a weekend and judge for yourself. I believe you will appreciate what you experience, and if you do, I only ask that you “pay it forward” by sponsoring a pastor, AIM, or congregational member you know to receive the blessing and then pass it on them.

Pr. Dave Shockey,
Hebron Lutheran Church,
Hebron, KY


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