My name is Rob Loane, and I serve as the interim president for VantagePoint3. I met Randy Reese, the founder of this ministry, well over two decades ago while working with his wife, Susan, at Biola University in California. We immediately became really good friends and, for about 10 years, that’s all it was: Friendship. But along the way, Randy started VantagePoint3 and, in 2004, he invited me to begin working with him. By 2006, I moved from California to Sioux Falls.
One person has said, “The North American Church is 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep.” Never has a church in history activated more efforts across the globe than the Church in North America over the the past 100 years, but there is this growing sense that we are merely skimming the surface in this life of faith. Randy wanted to do something about that, and he soon was convinced that God was calling him to really help adults grow up into Christ. Through leadership development and adult discipleship, he began VantagePoint3 to simply invite and foster renewal in the Church in North America.
This VantagePoint3 Pathway of processes begins with The Journey, a meaningful walk with a group of people guided by three primary questions: Who is God? Who am I? and What does God desire to do through me? These are questions of intimacy with God, identity, purpose and calling in which we are asking people to take more seriously who they are and what God is inviting them to be and do. The Journey is a 6-8 month process in which these questions are always present. The guiding assumption of The Journey is that God is already up to something good, and the burden that we have as followers of Jesus is not to do a “dancing bear act” for God so He will do something good in our lives or in our communities. The burden is to pay attention to the good thing God is already up to.
In many ways, The Journey is an exercise in paying attention, and we know that’s not easy in today’s world.
One of the most significant gifts VantagePoint3 has offered me is to be able to provide conversations that really help people move beyond a life of borrowed convictions and second-hand experiences.
But the hidden curriculum in this whole thing is friendship. Friendship is not just the cherry on top of the Christian life, it’s the condition in which we learn to follow Jesus. We never expected adult life to be quite as lonely as it is. Despite so many people around us, we will ask ourselves, “Who really knows me?” And if we don’t feel known relationally, it’s difficult for us to accept that there’s this God who we don’t sit across the table from, so how can we know and be known by Him? Friendship helps our participants make sense of this dynamic relationship.
By the end of the year, participants in The Journey are deeply connected with others, and there is a strong sense that the Lord is more intimately involved in their life than they could ever imagine. Through prayerfulness, reflection, conversation and action, The Journey process addresses their spiritual hunger or a transition they are facing or a burden they are carrying, and opens their eyes to a pathway through it.
We feel a deep, meaningful sense to fulfill this work that Randy Reese started by taking people to a vantage point where their lives are never the same.
We lost Randy unexpectedly in August of 2016, and his passing has created a significant pause for an awful lot of people. But what that means for us is a deep sense of stewardship. How can we reflect the simplicity of what we are inviting people to be about? I know there is a tribe of folks out there who really care deeply about God and noticing people more particularly, and that’s fundamentally what we want to do. We are sad, but we feel deeply called to steward this unique work that the Lord is doing through VantagePoint3, a work Randy cared so much about.
In the fall of 2003, I guided a spiritual formation retreat for VantagePoint3 in the middle of North Dakota. This was a very pivotal trip for me, because in my experience, I’ve always thought that adults are rarely treated very developmentally. Youth pastors naturally work developmentally with kids because it’s a time in their life when they are growing up, and they are going to make mistakes, and that’s ok. But for some reason, in adult life, it takes a major crisis for someone to wake up and treat their life developmentally – like a work in progress. But what I saw at that retreat center in North Dakota was adults in a sort of alternative classroom really growing up. They were wrestling with the type of questions we normally deal with in our 20s: What am I going to do with my life? What is the Lord up to? As a learner and as a teacher, I realized then that Randy was really up to something special with VantagePoint3, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
One of the most significant gifts VantagePoint3 has offered me is to be able to provide conversations that really help people move beyond a life of borrowed convictions and second-hand experiences. They really open up, and I can sense people honestly trying to order their life around Jesus.
The oldest lady I ever trained to be a leader was 92 years old. Her name was Rita. She had a group of 60-year-olds, and halfway through her year, she said to me, “You know, these 60-year-olds have a lot of growing up to do. I look around at my peers, and you don’t make it to 90 if you haven’t learned how to forgive people.” That sort of person, that is a student of Jesus.