On the Road with God (Part Two)
Well, what an adventure I have had over the last two weeks! It has been wonderful to spend time with family and friends, and to make some new ones too! I have also had an extremely challenging and profound experience with Simon Guillebaud and our little brotherhood at the Xtreme Character Challenge (XCC) in Scotland. Our team of nine was just one of 8 or 9 teams (about 60 guys in all) and we had what I might best call an immersive experience (in more ways than one!) over three days hiking, climbing, talking (a lot) and sleeping (not much!) in the Southern Highlands of Scotland.
XCC is led by a guy called James Ray, who is quite possibly the most engaging and charismatic person I’ve ever met. Try to imagine a blend of Bear Grylls and Thor, and you’ll be quite close! As James explained, the values of XCC are: Faith, Brotherhood, Adventure and Transformation, and we were invited to embrace all four and to live them out. What an incredible experience it has been. I am still processing the event (and my whole sabbatical) and reflecting on what exactly to do next with it all.
For sure, I want to explore with EBC the idea of a deliberate focus on men’s ministry. As part of this, I am inviting one of the guys from James’s XCC crew (his name is Pat) to come and speak on a Sunday morning. His story is amazing and deeply inspiring. I also want to think about what we might build into the life of EBC for men – whether it includes a mentoring programme, some mini-adventures of our own, or even an organised team to take part in a future XCC! Certainly I want to recommend that guys check out XCC for themselves, and think about taking part. The version I have just done was the ‘wilderness’ version, but there are other XCC experiences that might be a little less, er… full on! You can learn more here: https://www.xtremecharacterchallenge.com/
Whilst XCC is intentionally for men only, they do have a partner organisation called ‘Arise’ for women only, and you can check this out here: https://www.4muk.com/arise/
The XCC was, for sure, the centrepiece of my sabbatical, but the whole two week experience has been wonderful. Visiting some special and beautiful places, spending time in deep conversations (with friends, family and – slightly randomly – the former Chaplain of Rydal!), and reflecting on things with God has reminded me again of the importance of connecting with people and places that nourish your soul. Let me encourage you to revisit your schedule and your plans, and to make sure that you build in some time to reconnect with important people in your life, to visit some beautiful places, and to bring God in on the scene with you both when you are alone with Him, and when you are having those conversations with others.
We are about to run our annual take on “Family Values” at EBC, as we explore again our church values of Caring, Commitment, Community, Celebration and Communication. We have those values for really good reasons (as we shall remind ourselves in the month ahead!) but I invite you to consider thinking about what Faith, Brotherhood, Adventure and Transformation might look like in your own life. And if you want to talk some more about XCC and my trip, just let me know. There’s lots to tell, from snow-capped mountains to freezing cold plunge pools, from famine to feasting, beautiful churches, breath-taking scenery, the laying down of burdens and even being buzzed by a low-flying Eurofighter over Rydal Water!
Thanks again to everyone at EBC (and XCC) for an incredible experience.