By Joel Bates
Take a minute to close your eyes and think about what you value most. For me, it’s not just the obvious answers—my wife and children and the events and places that surround my relationship to them. It’s the hard things—building a house, leading challenge expeditions in which I suffer along with a community, or crossing a finish line in a race well run as my teammates, coaches, and parents look on. All that I value is so much more, but I’ll spare you further details. Until recently when I agreed to teach on the subject, I never had seriously considered the values that rule my life. I began studying this topic to present it to some young missionaries in training, and I came to understand what influence values have on an individual or a group, why we have values, where they come from, and how they affect us. During this research, I found myself asking, “What are the core values of Discovery Ministries?”
For years, we’ve known what we do here, but usually find it difficult to interpret our approach to ministry for interns and youth leaders. As we try to give guidance and set up a retreat on the phone, we often finally tell the confused youth minister, “You’ll just have to experience what we do!" Experiences shape our understanding and propel our belief forward, and at the same time, it’s important to convey clearly what we value. Our values help answer the tough questions: “Who am I?” “Why do I do what I do?”
In the last blog, I shared a little bit of the leading we have felt to stop and consider this ministry called DM. Now I want to share what we’ve come up with in an attempt to communicate the deeper core values of this ministry. So, here goes. Discovery Ministries is…
It probably comes as no surprise to many of you that these are DM’s core values. Allow me to explain more in depth why we chose this particular set of values to pilot our course as a ministry.
First and foremost, DM is Commanded by Christ. This phrase means DM is a ministry of Christ’s church and an outpost in the Kingdom of God. DM belongs to Jesus. He provides for it. He sustains it. He leads in how we use it.
We are Called to Adversity. At DM, we intentionally create challenge because we believe that spiritual awakening best happens when our life patterns are disrupted by risk, discomfort, and ambiguity. Through adversity, our weaknesses and sin can be identified, addressed, and replaced with deeper trust and surrender. While many scriptures emphasize this aim, 1 Peter 1:7 says it so well, “That your faith, when tested, may be proved genuine and result in praise.”
DM is Committed to the Process of Wilderness. “What exactly is the process of wilderness?” you ask. It’s an age-old spiritual formation process that God has been using since Genesis. We invite believers into a wilderness setting, where the Lord can confront them and bring spiritual insight to individuals and groups. These circumstances offer an opportunity for a deeply residual effect on spiritual growth as participants wait, wander, wonder, and win. As a ministry, we take a risk ourselves because the true learning and growth lies mainly in the heart of the participant, not in our expertise. The words of James 1:2-4 express this process so well, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Our teaching is Crafted by Facilitation. As our primary teaching tool, facilitation enables us to pull learning from the experience. Structuring diverse opportunities for interaction, we invite participants into spiritual growth by crafting real-life pressures and stake as a means of transformation. We believe this style of teaching promotes greater personal transference from learning to practical Christian living. “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” 2 Tim 1:13-14
DM promotes being Connected through Small Groups. We work with groups of 5-20 campers because we believe that the greater relational impact achieved in small groups promotes vibrant Christian living as a body of believers. “Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, ‘”Explain to us the parable….”’ Matthew 13:36
DM’s ministry is Constructed with our Staff. Each staff member is a Christ-follower first, who embodies the spirit of DM and its mission. We are professional as instructors and passionate as ministers. Our staff members exhibit these constructs:
1 Peter 2:5
Over the next few months we will share some of the stories, situations, and examples of how these values have come to the surface.
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.