The original 28-week Companions in Christ foundational resource grew from a vision long held by Stephen D. Bryant, former publisher of Upper Room Ministries. Stephen’s vision was to see our churches led differently from of a spiritual formation paradigm. The hope was that as the church was led formationally, we would become the transformed community, the presence of Christ in the world. Being led formationally included spending time together in community, practicing daily habits of personal listening to God, and creating space to listen to God together that would move us to action.
Marjorie J. Thompson, former Director of Pathways in Congregational Spirituality with Upper Room Ministries and spiritual director to Companions in Christ ®, took Stephen’s vision and gave it shape. A rhythm of reading a weekly article, engaging in daily reflective exercises, and a weekly group meeting became the pattern of the Companions experience. Many people participated in the creation of this foundational resource—advisors, consultants, an ecumenical group of authors, editors, and test churches. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to each person and congregation who participated in the creation of this resource.
The vision for Companions grew beyond our expectations. Groups who experienced the foundational resource asked for more. The Companions advisory group listened, and “The Way of …” series came into being. The Companions adult series now includes The Way of Grace, The Way of Blessedness, The Way of Forgiveness, The Way of Transforming Discipleship, The Way of Prayer, and The Way of Discernment. In addition, an introduction to basic spiritual practices was developed, titled Exploring the Way, with a shorter meeting time and a format bridging small group and traditional class. It is intended to precede other Companions resources. Compañerismo en Cristo offers the foundational 28- week experience for Spanish speakers.
Today, the Companions “family” includes resources for adults, children (The Way of the Child), and youth (The Way of Pilgrimage).
The Way of the Child came to life when a Companions small group member, Wynn McGregor, had a vision to engage children in spiritual practice. Wynn was part of a Companions group, and the spiritual practices and community life she experienced there fostered in her a desire to offer a formational experience for children. The Way of the Child, designed for ages 6-11, calls children to recognize their own relationship with God and to create quiet space in which to listen. With 39 modules that can be used as a whole or in sections, The Way of the Child guides all sizes of churches in helping children create habits of spiritual practice.
The Way of Pilgrimage, created by an ecumenical group of young writers, invites youth in high school and college freshmen to daily spiritual practice. Sally Chambers, Kara Lassen Oliver, Jonathan Norman, Gavin Richardson, Jenny Youngman, Ciona Rouse, Kyle Dugan, and Craig Mitchell, all authors with a passion for youth and pilgrimage, met and worked together to write The Way of Pilgrimage.
The hope of the Companions team is that we as Christ-followers would learn to listen deeply to God together. Our prayer is that as small groups of children, youth, and adults meet to engage in spiritual practice, we would become the presence of Christ in the world. As we meet together, listen for God, and respond to what we hear, we expect to be transformed!