By Terry C.
One idea that sparked Journey came from the observation that as our society becomes technologically advanced, people are becoming more and more lonely and isolated. Face-to-face relationships are rapidly being replaced by electronic “friends” or “snaps” that are poor substitutes for real connection. We are also seeing that as isolation increases so do mental health issues like depression, anxiety and even suicide.
With this observation on the forefront of our minds, Journey Coaching officially started six years ago after my husband and I attended a leadership conference in Illinois. We met a pastor, Mike Calacci, who was also attending the conference. As we talked, we discovered that even though we each come from different perspectives (see our bios), we all had something in common, a passion for relationships and soul care, both within the local church and outside its doors.
Often throughout history, when society problems arise churches step up and fill the needs in a big way. For instance, churches were instrumental in the creation of a great many hospitals and nursing facilities in our country during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. So we looked at how the churches might be equipped to meet this problem of increasing disconnection and isolation in society today.
Churches provide large-group and small-group ministry programs, but unless people have a pathway to more intimate connection, their loneliness and isolation may not change. Plus, research by the Barna group and others demonstrates that people actually grow more through one-on-one connecting relationships. So how do we help individuals, regardless of whether they are involved in church or not, become more connected and grow?
Over the next few months and years, Journey Coaching began to take shape. We decided it needed to be a process rather than a program, and one that facilitated conversations and discussion between individuals or two couples rather than more impersonal larger groups. We could see the need for intentional one-on-one mentoring type relationships if we are going to really help people grow, but we found the idea of mentoring was not as widely received as the concept of coaching.
We believed that for this to be effective, Journey needed to be simple enough to be a peer-to-peer coaching ministry. We also realized that the initial coaching series needed to be a short 6-8 session commitment. So we started putting together the first Journey Participant’s guides to facilitate the process. We knew that in order to really get to know each other, Journey had to start with the opportunity for coach and participant to tell their stories to each other and then build from those stories.
Once we had the basic framework, we went out and coached some people. We took their feedback and our own evaluation of the process and revised the workbooks, then started out again coaching more people. This was the longest part of the process. After about five years and ten revisions we reached the place where we are today. One of the biggest revisions we undertook was adding a section on worldview. We felt this was an important and often overlooked component in personal growth.
It was also important to all of us that the Journey material be effective when used by other Christians, but also to be helpful to those who are not or who are questioning what they believe. For that reason, we revised each chapter to give the participant a chance to either complete or opt out of the focus of that chapter from a Christian perspective. That way when working on the concept of strength or worldview, for instance, readers would have the ability to compare their own perspective with a healthy Christian perspective, yet not feel pressured to do so.
The response to Journey has been so favorable that this year Journey, Inc. became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, grown out of the desire to help bring a focus on connection, soul care and individual growth to the world around us. We have been encouraged by all the people who have joined us on this journey so far, and we hope you will join us on this journey too!