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Upper Room Chrysalis

West Ohio Conference
Chrysalis (Green Street UMC Piqua)

What is Chrysalis?

Sponsorship

The Aim of Sponsorship

Age of Participants

Next Step Groups & Hoots

About Servant Leadership

Ideas for Servant Leadership

On Listening

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What is Chrysalis?

Before it becomes a butterfly, a caterpillar goes through a growth stage during which it is called a "chrysalis." On the surface it may not look like much is happening, but the delicate chrysalis process changes the fuzzy caterpillar into an awesome butterfly with wings of intricate designs and intense colors. The chrysalis process symbolizes how Christ can transform you into something beyond your dreams. It happens when you grow beyond yourself, opening your life to Jesus' power and love.

"Chrysalis" is the name chosen for the youth and young adult version of The Walk to Emmaus, its parent movement, because it symbolizes the spiritual growth that is essential between adolescence and adulthood. That growth is as crucial for youth as the cocoon is for the caterpillar. It is that precious time of nurturing a person's faith for discipleship.

Chrysalis "Flights" (for 10th through 12th graders) and "Journeys" (for young adults, ages 19-24) are three-day events. This three-day spiritual renewal time provides an opportunity for you to learn more about faith, to experience Christian love and support, and to make new faith commitments. The point is to inspire, challenge and equip you for a closer friendship with Christ and for Christian action at home, church, school, and community.

Chrysalis lifts up a way for you to enjoy Christ's friendship and love and to be Christ's friend and partner in the world. The three days focus on God's grace, your experience with Christ as friend, what it means to be the body of Christ, and giving love to a needy world.

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Sponsorship

Each young person who attends Chrysalis has a "sponsor" who supports and encourages him/her before, during, and after the Chrysalis experience.

Sponsorship is the way in which the Chrysalis experience is passed on from person to person, reflecting the manner in which God purposefully reaches out to people through other people. After a Chrysalis Weekend, participants want to share the gift of those three days with others. Sponsorship provides them a caring and disciplined way for them to share. And in doing so, sponsors participate in and demonstrate God's outreaching love.

Sponsorship is taken for granted in many communities. The assumption is that everyone knows the how and why of sponsorship. Sometimes sponsorship is only discussed with reference to the number of participants signed up for a Chrysalis Weekend.

Sponsorship, however, is the most important job in the Chrysalis Movement. It is a job shared by the adults who have been through Emmaus and the young people who have been through Chrysalis. It is more than simply "signing youth up." The importance of a Chrysalis Community being educated about good sponsorship cannot be overemphasized. The quality of sponsorship impacts the new participants, the health of the Chrysalis Movement in an area, and the churches being affected by Chrysalis.

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The Aim of Sponsorship

The aim of sponsorship is the same as the aim of Chrysalis: the spiritual growth of young Christians as disciples of Jesus Christ through churches and their youth groups. Every sponsor should reflect upon his or her motivation for wanting to sponsor a young person and make sure it is consistent with this aim. Some examples of mistaken aims include:

  • "to get all of my friends to go"
  • to have a full weekend
  • to reproduce one's own religious experience in others
  • to fix a young person's problems or crisis

Sponsorship can be motivated, however, by a number of hopes and prayers for young persons which are consistent with the aim of Chrysalis. These include giving young persons the gift of three days apart:

  • to experience the accepting and healing grace of God through Christian community
  • to realize they are precious in God's eyes, that they are here on this earth for a holy purpose
  • to discuss without judgment their questions and struggles as young persons with peers and mature Christian adults
  • to hear anew the gospel of God's love in Jesus Christ and the basics of Christian faith and life
  • to make friends with other youth who share the faith and will support each other in living as Christians
  • to develop relationships with mature Christian adults, relationships which might extend beyond the three days
  • to be strengthened in their decisions to follow Jesus
  • to be better prepared to live as Christian witnesses in home, school, church, and community
  • to learn what goes into building their lives and relationships on a solid foundation
  • to bring new vitality to the church youth group upon returning, to inspire the sponsorship of other youth, to energize the body of Christ through young people whose hearts are on fire with the love of Christ.

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Age of Participants

High School Chrysalis is for high school (tenth through twelfth grades) age young people. Chrysalis is especially meaningful for young people who are ready to think and share about the realities and struggles of life on a more adult level: "What am I going to do with my life?" "Who do I want to become?" "What do I believe?" "What kind of relationships are lasting and most meaningful?" "What does it mean to live as a Christian and how can I do it?"

Common experience has been that young people who are not yet tenth graders will benefit from waiting and should be sponsored with their age group. Young people will gain immensely more from Chrysalis when they are developmentally ready and are in tune with the life experiences of the other youth participants. Sponsorship of participants who are too young can sometimes detract from the value of the three days for the age group for whom Chrysalis is intended.

College-age Chrysalis (or young adult Chrysalis) is the same program and is for young adults eighteen to twenty-three (18-23) years of age. College-age Chrysalis has emerged to fill an age gap of persons who are often not being reached by either high school Chrysalis or the Walk to Emmaus for adults. Nevertheless, young adults who are beyond high school can be sponsored to the Walk to Emmaus as well. Sponsors must discern the most promising route for the each young person.

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Next Step Groups & Hoots

Next Step Groups are small groups of young people who have been on a Chrysalis Flight or Journey. The groups are designed to keep the spirit of the Chrysalis weekend alive and staying in relationship to help one another live in the light of God's love as disciples of Jesus Christ. At the end of a Chrysalis weekend, participants are broken into groups by churches, schools, or towns. In some communities, young people divide themselves into groups by regular times and days when they would be able to meet.

After the Chrysalis experience is over, Next Steps groups meet regularly to participate in a time of sharing based on the Next Steps Card (a card received during the Chrysalis weekend).

"Hoots" are larger, less frequent, gatherings of all of the young people and adults in an area who have participated in Chrysalis for the purpose of renewing relationships, rekindling the fire of faith, and planning to support upcoming Chrysalis weekends.

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About Servant Leadership

Chrysalis does not exist primarily for the weekend events. Its purposes are to deepen the faith of individual young people, to increase the faith of congregations, and to bring Christianity to the world. Chrysalis gives participants the skills needed for leadership and invites them to make the commitment needed to build up the church for the sake of Jesus Christ. The questions asked at the closing - "What has this weekend meant to you?" and "What are you going to do with it?" -- help participants begin to comprehend the kind of servant leadership that God may require of them in the future.

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Ideas for becoming a Servant/Leader

Chrysalis is about developing leadership in a spirit of servanthood. This sort of leadership requires a practiced ability to listen, as E. Glenn Hinson develops in his book, Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership, pp. 50-53:

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On Listening

Douglas V. Steere, one of the leading Quakers of the twentieth century, was a mentor and teacher in the spiritual life for many. A Harvard Ph.D. and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he spent much of his life in a quest to know God . . . .

In his classic On Listening to Another (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955), Douglas Steere has listed four qualities of a good listener. The first is vulnerability. Vulnerability comes from the Latin words meaning "capable of being wounded," "able to be hurt." Douglas reminds how much better the people with leprosy on the island of Molokai in Hawaii heard Father Damien that morning he began his sermon, "Brothers, we lepers." And, I should add, how much better Damien heard them after he contracted leprosy!

The second is acceptance. This does not mean, Douglas says, toleration born of indifference. Acceptance comes very close to what agape-love means in the New Testament. Agape is the kind of love that does not try to shape and mold the other person into its own mold. It accepts the other just as that person is.

The third is expectancy. Expectancy has to do with hopefulness. Douglas Steere was the kind of person who inspired hope in others. Many are those who would say that, until Alzheimer's disease impaired his faculties, they never met Douglas without feeling buoyed up and encouraged. In writing his biography I spent much time trying to discover the secret behind such experiences. I found two clues.

One is an optimism that pervaded his life. He could always see a ray of light penetrating every dark cloud. He looked at life from the bright side. Teilhard de Chardin possessed that same optimism grounded in a conviction that God, Divine Love, is at the very heart of things . . . . Yes. That is true. And I could go on to add, "We overcome sickness, we overcome grief, we overcome life by finding God in it."

The other is a sense of mission Douglas Steere had. It was something he learned from Martin Buber in a Quaker meeting at Haverford College in 1951. During the meeting, the remarkable Jewish philosopher said that the greatest thing one person could do for another was to confirm what was deepest in the other. That thought constantly recurred in Douglas's speech and writing, but more important, it pervaded his relationships with others. He wanted, above everything, to confirm what was deepest in other persons, arousing the hope that was in them.

The fourth is constancy. The Latin and Greek behind this word mean "to stand with" or "stay with" another. Douglas speaks of "Infinite patience." Really to listen to another, you have to exercise patience. You can't "ho hum" and start saying, "Oh, you mean . . . ," when you don't know what someone means but are saying, "If you will say something like this, we can get on with this and I can go on to something else." To listen is to "stay with" the other.

Listening is more than hearing words and distinguishing sounds. Seeing is more than looking at objects. Douglas Steere cited a story from John Woolman, the eighteenth-century Quaker saint. Following a Native American rebellion, Woolman undertook a dangerous trip to visit the Delaware Indians at Welialoosing on the Susquehanna River. Initially, he tried to communicate with their chief, Papunehang, through a Moravian missionary. When that seemed unsuccessful, he asked the interpreters to let him pray without translation. Before the meeting closed, he was told that Papunehang had said, "I love to feel where words come from." (1) The object is to get beyond words and thoughts. Communication has many levels, and you want to reach the deepest of them.

Within every exchange, moreover, there is more than the speaker and the hearer. There is also the Eternal Listener, Kierkegaard's Eternal Spectator. God is there. Douglas Steere cited Psalm 139, that wonderful poem about God's inescapable nearness. In the first seven verses the psalmist told how intimately God knows each person: "Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely" (v. 4). Then in verse 8, this one who wanted so desperately to escape God summed up his experience of God's unavoidable presentness: "If I ascend to heaven, you are there." That, of course, is where you expect God to be. But the other half, "if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there," that is what rolls over you.

Two things in that jump out at you. First, the psalmist said, "If I make my bed," not if I trip and fall in. You can't mess up your life so badly that God will not be there. Second, Sheol is by definition in Hebrew thought where God is not. But for our psalmist there is nowhere God is not.

If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,"
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you. (Ps. 139: 9-12)

What do you do with your listening and your seeing? Douglas Steere contends that, if you really listen, you may listen another person to a condition of awareness of the Eternal Listener's presence. And if you really listen, you may become aware of the Eternal Listener.

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Excerpted with permission from Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership by E. Glenn Hinson. Copyright 1999 by E. Glenn Hinson. Published by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved.

If you would like to learn more about Douglas Steere, read his classic book Dimensions of Prayer: Cultivating a Relationship with God.

NOTES
(1) John Woolman, The Journal of John Woolman (New York: Corinth Books, 1961), p. 151.