What is the Outer Circle?
The Outer Circle is a series of gatherings during which we train together for the purpose of transformation. Personal stories, teaching and practicing a particular spiritual exercise are the main components of each Outer Circle gathering – along with a snack. Participants come away from each Outer Circle gathering with a new practical tool and experience that can be used in personal spiritual formation, House Groups, Triads and many other settings.
The goal of the Outer Circle is to foster spiritual transformation so that we can become the kind of people God is calling us to become.
Why the Outer Circle?
The Outer Circle can be summed up in three words: Transformation – Training – Together.
Spiritual formation doesn’t just happen nor can we make ourselves more like Jesus. While we are most certainly involved this growth is primarily a work of the Holy Spirit. Our task is to create spaces in our lives – rhythms and practices – that give room for God. If we do this deep transformation will result.
Someone once said that farmers aren’t in the business of growing crops. Instead they grow soil – tending and nourishing the earth into which they plant their crops. Healthy dirt will result in a healthy crops. The spiritual life is similar. Exercising spiritual practices is like tending the soil of our lives. When they’re healthy, we will be be transformed to become more like Jesus.
Thankfully, this isn’t only about our own transformation. As we grow closer to God we get closer to God’s heart which, at its core, is missional. The journey inward will always lead outward. The question is, what do we find on the inward journey and what kind of person will we be on the outward one? How do those around us experience us? Do we bring the hope, peace, love, freedom and joy of the gospel or are we offering something else? In reality we’re all a mix of both. The goal of the Outer Circle is to foster spiritual transformation so that we can become the kind of people God is inviting us to become.
Some of the most basic building blocks of spiritual transformation are practices that have been around a long time. Practices like rest, silence, imaginative prayer, gospel contemplation, sabbath, service, fasting, study, worship, gratitude, hospitality and a myriad of others. At each Outer Circle gathering we will focus on a particular exercise. We will teach it and then practice it right there together. This will be helpful in the moment but will also prove valuable for House Group leaders, Triads, and for any other groups you may be in. Certainly some of the exercises are meant to be practiced alone but these too will produce fruit if used regularly. Each Outer Circle gathering will have practical resource to take home (experience & hand-outs).
Life isn’t meant to be walked alone. Beyond Sunday mornings, people connect in a number of important and life-giving ways. Triads are small groups of people (usually 2 – 4) who regularly meet together to support, share and pray for one another. House Groups are a little larger but have the same basic reason for being. There are a variety of other ways people connect in WCV. The Outer Circle is a place for these groups to receive encouragement, training and support. It’s also a great place to meet new people.
Everyone is welcome to any of the Outer Circle gatherings.
What’s with the name?
The inspiration for the Outer Circle came from a few profound prophetic words given a number of years ago. The Outer circle name comes from Musk Oxen, who form a protective circle around the vulnerable members of the herd in times of trouble. This is a picture of the kind of community God has called us to become. We want to be an “outer circle” – a community that gathers its strength and uses it in the service of the vulnerable. We want to be a community that makes room for others to take their place in the circle. We want to be a community in which it is safe to be weak and vulnerable, taking our place in the centre as needed.
Tools for Transformation:
We all need tools which can help get the job done. With the work of spiritual formation, we know the Holy Spirit is the one who makes growth happen. However, we all need tools which can help foster a favourable environment for this work to take place. These tools or resources are also called spiritual exercises or practices. As you participate in the Outer Circle gatherings, you’ll be introduced to a number of these tools – one each gathering.
Here are the tools we’ve explored previously (download, print, or view online):
- Gospel Contemplation – a way of reading gospel stories that engages your imagination.
- Lectio Divina – an ancient way of praying with scripture, listening with your heart.
- Silence – a way of praying without words, simply being with God and resting in God’s presence.
Dates & Topics
- March 10 – Scripture: Gospel Contemplation
- April 30 – Scripture: Lectio Divina
- May 28 – Prayer: Silence
- October 1 – TBD
- November 5 – Discernment (Examen)
In subsequent years we will explore other spiritual practices.
NOTE: The topics may change without notice.