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.
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 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!