Introducing...Lesli van Milligen

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We recently introduced you to the position description of a Regional Catalyzer for Faith Formation Ministries. This week, we would like to introduce you to one of the people serving as Regional Catalyzers for Faith Formation Ministries. Lesli is the newest member of the team, serving seven Classes in Ontario, Canada. Look for more interviews with Regional Catalyzers in the weeks ahead!

Lesli, you have training and experience as a Spanish teacher, a pastor, and a youth director. How will your training and experience in each of those areas impact how you work with congregational leaders as a Regional Catalyzer?  

I imagine that each experience will  bring a different perspective on how different members of the Body are called to speak into the Faith Formation process: teaching, shepherding, and administering programs that support the process. As a Spanish teacher I participated in many cross-cultural learning opportunities. Those experiences have heightened my awareness that each congregation has its own micro-culture that needs to be acknowledged and understood as much as possible. We can’t take a cookie cutter approach to supporting a particular church and community. Each have their own unique context. I pray that my experience as a pastor will help me to be sensitive to the various and specific needs of congregational leaders because I have walked in their shoes and understand some of the challenges that they are facing.

What books or authors has God used to shape your understanding of faith formation?  

I am a reader so it is hard to narrow it down. Kenda Creasy Dean is an author who has really inspired me to be more intentional in my own ministry. I would recommend anything by her, but Almost Christian and The Godbearing Life: the Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry are must reads. I have also appreciated the work coming out of the Fuller Youth Institute and the Sticky Faith material are accessible to leaders and parents alike.  

Describe for us a key person (or people) who played an important role in your faith formation.

There have been many key people all along the way. I am thankful for the Van Kampens who were involved in my Sunday School education. Rather than assuming that students had already asked Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of our lives, they invited us to make that commitment. There were church members who "parented" me and my sisters when my mother was confined to a wheelchair due to MS. There were pastors who loved Jesus, and that love came through in the way they ministered to my family. Rev. Ron Nydam nurtured a passion for ministry and a love of theology in me. Godly grandparents, Ray and Ann, daily reflected how to live out faith and constantly showed me how God was there during very troubling times. Dale Cooper at Calvin College and Stan VerHeul from Los Angeles Community Church were both awesome mentors. 

These are all people who were key people at key times in my life and there are many, many more.  One of the common threads is that I felt that each one of them really saw me, really knew me, and were open to being used by God to help me grow into the person he was and is calling me to be.

If we're sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it's been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?  

We will have tons of stories to tell that speak of congregations, volunteers, staff and pastors who felt supported and encouraged by FFM because we were able to come alongside, listen and be a resource for the particular work each is doing in their local contexts.  And, I think we will have achieved a sense of our own identity as Faith Formation Ministries and will be able to share what we have learned throughout the year to make us even more effective for serving congregations in the year to come.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it in your new role as a Regional Catalyzer?  

The power of replication--to be able to be in more than one place at a time.  My region is huge, and I am so excited by the possibilities this ministry has. I would like to be available everywhere all at once.

Also, were I replicated, one of me could keep the house clean and laundry done.

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