Journey Center for Learning defines a DISCIPLE as an apprentice investing one’s whole life into becoming ever more like Jesus in character, attitude, purpose and action.

We define DISCIPLESHIP as thoughtful, open hearted, humble, life-encompassing, interdependent apprenticeship.

Thoughtful – Thinking theologically, critically and responsibly about life

Open hearted – Desiring self-awareness, transformation, and union with Christ

Humble – Being willing to admit how much we don’t know and interact with God and each other accordingly

Life-encompassing – Seeking faith that addresses, alters, and aligns every aspect of life and being

Interdependent – Embracing, whole heartedly, our interrelatedness to the Triune God, each other, and creation

We seek to offer a variety of opportunities which can create space for transformation in the lives of individuals, communities, and the world.

  • Journey Groups

    JOURNEY GROUPS are self-directed, self-determined peer learning communities. Each group is guided by a facilitator who is a co-learner with passion and experience in the area of the particular theme.


    Journey Groups consist of 6-9 leaders and a facilitator gathered around common learning themes. The group journeys together for two years, offering each other mutual encouragement, support, challenge and accountability. Each group gathers five times for 3-4 days, on dates determined by the group. Together, each group develops a focus and a learning plan within their general theme. They then explore their focus in depth, via a wide variety of learning approaches and locations. Travel is a significant piece of the experience. Journey Group members invite a cohort of persons in their ministry context to learn concurrently with them. Two members of each participant’s cohort are included in the fourth gathering. At the final gathering, the group will creatively share their learning with an audience they deem could greatly benefit from what they have learned over the preceding two year journey.

    Learn more by downloading a grid of the two year process.


    Cost includes all travel, lodging, meals, resources and events for the five gatherings.

    The fee for each Journey Group participant is $2500 OR $1250/year for two years. Each ministry context also contributes $750 to help with the expenses of the cohort.

    Journey groups are generously subsidized by contributors who believe in the power and effectiveness of this learning model.


    Currently, Violence and the City, facilitated by Rev. Chris Dorsey is being formed with an expected launch in the summer 2014. Clergy, civic leaders and community organizers are encouraged to apply. If you are interested in applying for this Journey Group, apply here!

    Learn more about the History of Journey Groups.

  • Theme Groups

    Theme Group.jpgTHEME GROUPS developed out of the Journey Group model. For some, a two year commitment that involves extended periods of time for learning is not feasible for their lifestyle or their congregational life.  Theme Groups allow for a learning community to form around a common theme for an eight month period.  The group begins in October with an overnight retreat and ends in May with an overnight retreat.  Monthly one-day gatherings occur between these bookend retreats.  Past theme groups focused on Youth Ministry and Worship and the Arts.  Currently a group is learning about Leadership at the Intersection of the Word and World.

    If you have an idea and group in your location, let us know.  We would invite a discussion about facilitating this learning process in your area.


    Staying Open: Writing as an Act of Faith

    "In fiction, as in faith, something from outside ourselves is breathed into us if we’re lucky and if we’re open enough to inhale it. I think writers...have to stay open in that way. They’ve got to play their hunches more and take risks more.”  -Frederick Buechner

    Have you ever thought about writing a book?

    You probably already do a lot of writing: sermons, letters of recommendation, weddings, funerals, and the never-ending stream of emails. But you might dream of something more creative: a novel, a book of poetry, a family history, a children’s book, a memoir. Maybe you have been too busy, too scared, or too unfocused. This group will provide you with the space, time, support, accountability and resources, to develop your writing project.

    At our monthly gatherings, we will:

    -Share our projects and our progress with one another.

    -Study an aspect of the creative writing process.

    -Discuss the role of writing and reading in our lives and in the Church.

    -Do writing exercises and work on our projects.

    -Share a meal.

    Between meetings you will:

    -Write. Then write some more.

    -Recieve personal feedback, support, and encouragement from the group facilitator.

    -Contribute, as desired, to an online discussion board with other participants.

    There are three special events as a part of this group:

    1. The initial March gathering will coincide with the Cook Lecture Series at WTS. This year’s speaker is Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, and The Year of Common Things. We will join Ms. Norris for lunch.

    2. In April we will attend the 2014 Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College.

    3. Our October meeting will be a three-day writing retreat. (Location TBD)

    (All costs are included for these events.)

    This is an open group.

    Application is open to ordained and non-ordained, experienced writers and dreamers. You do not need to be published, but you should have a good idea what project you would like to work on. For more information and to request an application, please contact Tara Macias (ext. 133) or Pam Bush (ext.  191) at Journey Center for Learning (616-392-8555) or visit the Journey website at www.westernsem.edu/journey.  You can find more detailed information about the group here.

    This group runs from March 2014 to November of 2014

    Group Size: Up to 8 participants

    Cost: $775/person

    Deadline for application: Dec 1, 2013

    About the Facilitator

    Rev. Adam Navis believes in the transformative power of writing. He has worked as a writer, editor, and administrator. His D.Min. studies focus on what the Church and seminaries can do to encourage better Christian writers. You can read a selection of his writing at themodernmonk.wordpress.com.

    Applications for this group can be downloaded here.

    Theotogs: Photographic Interpretations of Life & Faith

    This group is currently underway.  Applications are no longer being accepted.

    Bring your camera and your “eyes of life and faith” (September 2013-May 2014)

    Individually, and as a group, we will identify Biblical themes that set us on monthly “photo shoots”.  At each gathering, there will be time for viewing and discussing our photographs.  In addition, several professional photographers are scheduled to share their skills and creative “eyes” with us along our journey.  Seeing the world around us, expressing our faith and view of life through the lens of a camera, composing photographs are what “theotogs” is all about.

    Theotogs begins on Monday, September 9th at 9:00 am at Western Theological Seminary.  The entire series encompasses nine monthly day-long photography experiences from September to May with the following practices when we meet:

    Practice #1: Photographic Meditations

    Practice #2: Skill Development

    Practice #3: Lunch Together

    Practice #4: Theme Selections

    Practice #5: Photo Shoot Time

    Theotogs also include an October "field trip" to Ludington State Park for a day with professional photographers Todd and Brad Reed and a tour of their art gallery in downtown Ludington.  Check out their website at www.toddandbradreed.com.

    Cost: $275 for the series which includes monthly lunches.  We will attempt to meet once a month on Mondays, from September, 2013 to May, 2014.

    Expectations:  Everyone contributes photos and meditations, basic DSLR camera skills (and a DSLR camera) and an eagerness to learn and experiment with others.

    Facilitator: Keith Derrick, Director of Journey Center for Learning
    Western Theological Seminary


  • Focus Groups

    Focus Groups explore specific topics in a variety of on-going learning formats.  To see our entire list of Journey Learning Opportunities, visit the Learning Opportunities page or click here.

  • Other Offerings

    These opportunities vary from the Journey learning model.  They may include conferences, seminars, lectures, workshops and other events.  To see our entire list of Journey Learning Opportunities, visit the Learning Opportunities page or click here.


Steve VanderMolen

Steve VanderMolen

Director of Journey
616.392.8555 x113
Pam Bush

Pam Bush

Associate Director of Discipleship
616.392.8555, x191

Call Western Seminary


616.392.8555 or 800.392.8554




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