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Practice Kids in 2017!

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practicekidsfb 2Good news, Practice Tribe (at least those of us with kids)! Practice Kids is back by popular demand. We will be offering a safe, secure space for kids to be while their parents participate in our worship gathering all 2017 long–beginning on Sunday, January 15th. Read below for the details: 

What It Is: A safe, secure space for kids whose parents are at the Practice to play, do homework, etc. Kids will be cared for by the same Protection-cleared, background-checked people who work with Willow Creek ministries like MOPS, Care4Kids, and FPU.

What It’s Not: A worship experience for kids or a “children’s ministry”. For now we want to focus on keeping kids safe and cared for while their parents are worshipping.

Who: Kids from birth to 5th grade (birth-3 years in one room, kids 4 years-5th grade in another).

Where: In the Promiseland space at the base of Willow’s main “waterfall” staircase. Older kids will be in the Blue Sky 1 room, and younger kids will be in Promiseland’s Infant/Toddler space.

When: Check-in will open at 5:30, and kids will need to be picked up by 8:00. Do come a little early to make sure you have time to get back to the Chapel by 6:00!

How Much: Free!

What Do I Need to Do: If you have questions, or are interested in using The Practice Kids send Curtis an email at Curtis.miller@willowcreek.org so we can have an accurate count of how many kids to expect.

Grace and peace,
Curtis at The Practice Team

Practice Pastors & Priests Retreat 2017

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Pastors Retreat 2017

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.  (Matt 11:28-30, MSG)

Many pastors, priests & worship leaders that we’ve been talking to over the last couple years have been dreaming and experimenting with new (old) ways of aligning historic Christian practices with the modern world. These men and women are tired, worn out, and burned out on religion…and exploring new (old) ways forward, with Christ, into unforced rhythms of Grace.

Last January, a group of us came together at Bellarmine Retreat House (Barrington, IL) for shared spiritual practice, connection, and space to learn from each other. It was a deeply moving experience, to say the least, and we’re thrilled to do it again.

On January 22-24, 2017, please join us for a two day retreat with Fr. Michael Sparough SJ, The Practice team, and an ecumenical group of women & men who lead spiritual formation in their church: pastors, priests, liturgists, worship leaders, discipleship pastors, etc. The first day will be a personal retreat: guided spiritual practices, worship, liturgy, and the gift of solitude. The second day will offer spaces for learning, sharing, connecting, and exploring practical ways to invite our churches into these unforced rhythms of Grace. Space is limited to 70 people, so please sign up soon. The cost is $299, which includes the retreat, meals, and lodging. (Everything except travel!)

Details and Registration

———
Sunday (1/22)

6-7:30pm – Attend The Practice at Willow Creek
8pm – Welcome, drinks, and conversation at Bellarmine Retreat House
Evening – Sleep at Bellarmine

Monday (1/23)
9am-noon – Spiritual retreat with Fr Michael Sparough, SJ
12-3pm – Silent lunch and solitude
3-5pm – Session: How do we live unforced rhythms of Grace while in ministry?
5pm – Dinner and break
7pm – Session and Eucharist Service
Evening – Sleep at Bellarmine

Tuesday (1/24)
9am-noon – Session: How do we invite our communities into unforced rhythms of Grace?
Noon – Lunch and Depart
———

Pastor’s Retreat FAQs

Please let us know if you have any questions!

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

P.S.  A few photos from last year….

This Fall at The Practice

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Beatitudes Series_Graphic_BIG

In a season of so much violence and bitter division in our world and country, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the darkness. Or cynical. Or numb. Or angry. Or complicit. How do followers of Christ resist the “fight or flight” temptation, and instead join God in what God is already doing to unleash light and justice…making all things new? Is this kind of redemptive life even possible anymore?

This fall at The Practice, we return to the opening of Jesus Christ’s most famous sermon: The Beatitudes.  These nine statements introduce an alternative vision of life under God’s care and presence. They offer a stark contrast to conventional assumptions, and are deeply contrary to our systems of power. The Way of Jesus is the hope of the world.

The Beatitudes, however, are not just ideas to be believed, but a pathway to walk. So we’ve committed the next three months to learn how to put them into practice in our actual lives. We don’t just want to believe that Jesus was correct; we want to follow him into these nine redemptive ways of being–for the sake of the world.

Would you join us?

Scandrette Teaching 3

Thankfully, the journey has been shaped by the vision and wisdom of our friend Mark Scandrette. You all know that Mark has been hugely influential on The Practice community, and he’s been working on a Beatitudes project called Nine Beats for the last couple years. Through this deep dive, Mark has uncovered powerful insights and fresh practices that will help us flesh out Christ’s historic teaching. Here’s his short introduction…

We’re thrilled that Mark will be at The Practice this Sunday, September 11th, to launch us into the fall. 6pm in the Willow Chapel. This is the big picture invitation, so please don’t miss it!  Practice Kids will be available every Sunday night this fall for children up to 5th grade.

9/11 Vision and Invitation (with Mark Scandrette)
9/18 Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
9/25 Blessed are those who Mourn
[10/2] off
10/9 Blessed are the Meek
10/16 Blessed are those who Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness
10/23 Blessed are the Merciful
[10/30] off
11/6 Blessed are the Pure in Heart
11/13 Blessed are the Peacemakers
11/20 Blessed are those who are Persecuted for Christ
[11/27] off

December: Advent

 

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Practice Kids this Fall!

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practicekidsfb 2Good news, Practice Tribe (at least those of you with kids)! Practice Kids is back by popular demand. We will be offering a safe, secure space for kids to be while their parents participate in our worship gathering all Fall long. Read below for the details: 

What It Is: A safe, secure space for kids whose parents are at the Practice to play, do homework, etc. Kids will be cared for by the same Protection-cleared, background-checked people who work with Willow Creek ministries like MOPS, Care4Kids, and FPU.

What It’s Not: A worship experience for kids or a “children’s ministry”. For now we want to focus on keeping kids safe and cared for while their parents are worshipping.

Who: Kids from birth to 5th grade (birth-3 years in one room, kids 4 years-5th grade in another).

Where: In the Promiseland space at the base of Willow’s main “waterfall” staircase. Older kids will be in the Blue Sky 1 room, and younger kids will be in Promiseland’s Infant/Toddler space.

When: Check-in will open at 5:30, and kids will need to be picked up by 8:00. Do come a little early to make sure you have time to get back to the Chapel by 6:00!

How Much: Free!

What Do I Need to Do: If you have questions, or are interested in using The Practice Kids send Curtis an email at Curtis.miller@willowcreek.org so we can have an accurate count of how many kids to expect.

Grace and peace,
Curtis at The Practice Team

Practice Community Retreat

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Practice Retreat Image

Hello Practice Community, we’re thrilled to invite you on our second Practice Retreat:

Sunday, August 28th
8am-5pm
Bellarmine Retreat House

This will be a day of spiritual practice (led by Fr Michael Sparough SJ), guided solitude time (led by Joan and Gail of Sacred Retreats), connection with our community, and celebrating the Eucharist. Please join us!

The cost is only $50 per person, but there are scholarships available. Capacity is limited by Bellarmine, so please register right away…

The Practice Retreat registration

 

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

August at The Practice

By | Summer Experience, Uncategorized, Upcoming | No Comments

August update

Hey friends, we are so excited to come back together in the Chapel this month!

On August 7th and 14th, we will gather for the sake of our broken and beautiful world…learning to align our lives with God’s Movement of healing, peace, and the flourishing of all. Or, as we often say around The Practice: There is a grand river flowing toward the redemption and restoration of all things, and Christ invites us to swim WITH IT for the sake of the world. Will you say yes? Will you learn to swim with us?

AUGUST 7th: Prayer for the World With Images.  After a deep dive into our opening liturgy (with special guest artist/pastor Melissa Greene), Kellye Fabian will lead an extended time of prayer for the world using provocative and beautiful images. If you’ve experienced this before, you know how powerful it can be to connect our eyes with our hearts as we pray. Kellye will invite us to engage some of the world’s most pressing needs, of course, and then celebrate a few ways that God is already bringing hope and healing. Finally, we will bring these prayers to the Lord’s Table and end the night with Eucharist and worship.

AUGUST 14th: A Theology and Practice of “The Other”. On the second week, we’re thrilled to learn from Michael Rudzena, the pastor at Trinity Grace Tribeca (where our pal David Gungor leads worship).  Michael is brilliant, kind, and currently writing a book on a Theology of The Other. Jesus was very clear that our love for God is directly tied to our love for each other, so how do we learn to love our neighbor? What if this neighbor offends or frightens or disgusts us? How do we find and honor the image of God in our friends, strangers, enemies, and even ourselves?  I can’t think of a better topic to explore right now.

Kellye / Melissa / Michael

Kellye / Melissa / Michael

 

[AUGUST 21st – NO GATHERING]


AUGUST 28st: Practice Community Retreat
. Please join us at Bellarmine Retreat House for a day of prayer, teaching, solitude, and practice. Fr Michael Sparough, Joan Kelly, and Gail Donahue are partnering with us to create a whole day of holy space. Registration will open on August 7th. Space is limited, so please stay tuned!

Fr Michael at Bellarmine

Fr Michael at Bellarmine

 

In every way this month, may God’s Kingdom come and Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Practice Kids: a four week experiment

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thepracticekidsbanner

Exciting news! For the four weeks of our Living the Liturgy series (May 15 & 22, June 5 & 12) we will be offering a safe, secure space for kids while their parents participate in our worship gathering. This four-week experiment will help us assess how we can best serve families into the future. The details…

What It Is: A brand-new experiment to open the Practice experience to all families. A safe, secure space for kids whose parents are at the Practice to play, do homework, etc.  Kids will be cared for by the same Protection-cleared, background-checked people who work with Willow Creek ministries like MOPS, Care4Kids, and FPU.

What It’s Not: A worship experience for kids or a “children’s ministry”. That may come down the road, but for now we want to focus on keeping kids safe and cared for while their parents are worshipping.

Who: Kids from birth to 5th grade (birth-3 years in one room, kids 4 years-5th grade in another).

promiselandWhere: In the Promiseland space at the base of Willow’s main “waterfall” staircase. Older kids will be in the Blue Sky 1 room, and younger kids will be in Promiseland’s Infant/Toddler space.

When: Check-in will open at 5:30, and kids will need to be picked up by 8:00. Do come a little early to make sure you have time to get back to the Chapel by 6:00pm.

How Much: Free!

What Do I Need to Do: If you have questions, or are interested in using The Practice Kids, please send Curtis an email so we can have an accurate count of how many kids to expect.

———

Thanks so much!  Really excited about this next season together…
Curtis and The Practice Team

April at The Practice: Stories of Resurrection

By | Stories of Resurrection, Upcoming | 3 Comments

Resurrection Slider1

In view of Easter, this Sunday begins a five week journey called Stories of Resurrection: Cultivating Eyes to See & Join God’s Redemption Everywhere. During Lent, we were encouraged to go deep and dark into lament, and now we are invited to go up and out in celebration of Resurrection. Please join us.

Friends, resurrection didn’t just happen one time in Palestine, 2000 years ago. Through the risen Christ, resurrection keeps happening–in our relationships, neighborhoods, hearts, churches, families, vocations, and any other realm of life that God cares about–which is ALL of life! Death didn’t have the last word over Jesus Christ, and it will not have the last word over the world that God so loves. We are invited to partner with God in the great redemption and restoration of all things.

Beginning April 3rd, let’s explore three ways to align with God’s resurrection…
(1) Gratitude.  Eyes to see where resurrection is happening in my life and world.
(2) Longing.  Eyes to see where resurrection is needed in my life and world.
(3) Joining.  Eyes to see how to join God’s work of resurrection in my life and world.

We’ll be guided by the stories, experiences, and prayers of four Christ-followers trying to live this out in compelling ways…

Resurrection Slider2


Aaron Niequist
will share the big invitation and framework for the journey. David Bailey will talk honestly about race in America, and share his story of being a reconciler in the name of Christ. Sarah Bessey will share about growing up in Christianity, needing some part of her faith to die, and then experiencing resurrection in her own relationship with God and the church. Jeremy Courtney will tell his story about living with his wife and two kids in troubled Iraq, and how they see both horror and resurrection happening all around them. And then we’ll have a chance to share our own stories of resurrection with each other.

But those are just the speakers. Each gathering will begin with a robust opening liturgy, offer space to pray for the world, teach new ways to practice resurrection, and guide us to the Table to receive Holy Communion. Beyond hearing new ideas, we are passionately pursuing ways to put Christ’s words into practice for the sake of the world.

You–and anyone you know–are welcome to join us. 6pm in the Willow Creek Chapel.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

January: A Theology and Practice of Vocation

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There is a common — but completely untrue — idea floating around Christian circles that a few pastor-type people do “full time ministry” while everyone else just has normal, non-ministry jobs. (Some even call them “secular” jobs.)  But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  If you follow Christ and are filled with the Spirit and love for God and the world, then you are in full time ministry!  You are God’s hands and feet on planet earth…as a dentist, stay-at-home parent, sales-person, or second grade teacher. You, exactly you, are part of God’s good plan to redeem and restore all things in your specific context, family, and job.

But how do we do this?  How can we align even the most mundane aspects of our daily lives to Christ’s unforced rhythms of Grace?

For the next three weeks — January 10, 17, & 24 — we will dive deeply into a THEOLOGY OF VOCATION, begining with the big invitation and vision, and then moving into profoundly practical nuts and bolts. Because we are, after all, The Practice.  At the end of these three weeks, may every single one of us have a renewed vision for how God wants to move in/through our vocation, and daily practices to align with that vision.

On January 10th, we are thrilled (and really lucky) to have the brilliant Dr Steven Garber with us. He has given his whole life to studying and teaching a theology of vocation, and leads The Washington Institute of Faith, Vocation, & Culture.  If you can only attend one Sunday this month, please make sure it’s this one.  After an expansive opening liturgy, Steven will teach out his deeply held belief: Vocation is integral, not incidental, to the Missio Dei of God. And then we’ll have a time of Q&A to begin fleshing this out in our actual lives. From this holy place of vision and possibility, we’ll end the night gathered around Christ and His communion table. Please join us!

Can’t wait to see what God does in and through us this month.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

 

P.S. Here’s a little more about Dr Garber…

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 10.16.35 AM

Pastors Retreat in February

By | Rhythm, Upcoming | One Comment
Retreat

Retreat

Over the last two years, we’ve heard from a number of pastors, priests, and worship leaders who are on a similar journey–dreaming and experimenting with ways to align historic Christian practices with the modern world. It’s been deeply inspiring to hear what they are learning, and share about The Practice community. In this spirit, we’ve decided to host a small gathering where we pastors can deepen our “unforced rhythms of Grace” (guided by Fr Michael), and dream together about inviting our churches into this way of aligning our everyday lives with Christ for the sake of the world. February 14-16, 2015 at Bellarmine Retreat House. We’re really excited!

Pastors Retreat (Details & Registration)

The heart and schedule…

February 14-16th, 2015:  Two days of unforced rhythms of Grace.

The Living Christ invites us to follow him into unforced rhythms of Grace for the sake of the world. But the reality is, many of us in ministry don’t always live these unforced rhythms of Grace, and we’re not helping our communities live them either. Right beliefs are important but can only take us so far; we need to learn how to put Jesus’ invitation into practice.

Join us for two days of conversation, spiritual practice, and practical dreaming about what it means for us to each live our lives aligned to Christ in every moment, and help our church communities do the same.

———

•Sunday 6-7:30pm – Attend The Practice gathering together
•Sunday pm – Conversation, dessert, and drinks at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House
•Sunday night – Sleep at Bellarmine

•Monday 9-12 – Spiritual retreat with Fr Michael Sparough, SJ
•Monday 12-2 – Silent lunch and guided solo time
•Monday 2-5 – Group conversation: How do we live unforced rhythms while in ministry?
•Monday 7 – Eucharist service (w/ Jonathan Martin)
•Monday night – Sleep at Bellarmine

•Tuesday 9-12 – Group conversation: How do we invite our communities into unforced rhythms? What are the most helpful practices? How can our liturgy both ground and stretch us? What would it look like for a church to be a gymnasium for spiritual formation? What can we learn from the other Christian spiritual traditions? How does our inward journey launch us into action for the sake of the world?
•Tuesday noon – Done and head home

The cost is $250 per person — which includes meals, lodging, and everything except travel.

———

For those unfamiliar with Fr Michael, here’s a short conversation we had last year. This will give you a sense of how he’ll guide us on Monday morning…

———

If you are a pastor, priest, or worship-leader, please join us! We’re really excited to see what God will do within us, between us, and in our churches for the sake of the world.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team