The Story of Rhythms of Grace
Director: Linda Gist
Ministry Formation and Background
Jesus is my life. He is my Beloved and he is my Friend.
I was raised in the Presbyterian Church in Southern California and committed my life to Christ during my preteen years. I have been involved in ministry since my college days. During my years at UCLA, I was actively engaged as a student leader with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. My life with God flourished in the nurturing environment of IVCF, and a passion for God’s word and for spiritual formation established deep roots in my soul. While at UCLA, I felt the call to overseas missions. I longed to learn more God by seeing him through the "eyes" of another culture and to share the Good News with those who did not have easy access to Christian witness. Straight out of college I spent four years as a single person working alongside an American church-planter in France and for a Christian literature mission in Switzerland. During these sometimes-lonely years away from home, I learned to draw closer to the Lord and depend on him for finances and companionship. In exchange, I experienced God’s faithfulness, all-sufficiency and abiding presence in significant ways. My view of God expanded as I experienced him in a variety of Christian communities. After returning to the States and getting married, my husband and I went to Fuller Seminary where I completed courses in missions and cross-cultural studies while working with Tom and Betty Sue Brewster on a language-learning curriculum. Upon my husband’s graduation, we joined Alongside Ministry and returned to France with our two young children to serve on staff at a French Reformed church near Paris. The six years of serving in France and Switzerland was a culturally, socially and spiritually rich experience for me, while at the same time a very challenging and lonely time in ministry. My awareness and compassion for those in ministry comes from my experience of the loneliness and isolation we, and many of my friends, felt in Christian ministry. Since moving to Sacramento, I have been an active member and leader at my local church for over twenty years, more recently serving in the realm of spiritual formation.
My heart’s desire is to continually seek a deeper, more intimate walk with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This seeking involves many facets: growing in the understanding and practice of spiritual disciplines; learning to respond more in trust and obedience to Jesus, my Lord; reaching out to others with the love of Christ; experiencing community with fellow seekers; and learning more about God’s work of transformation in the church and individuals throughout the ages. The ultimate goal of this transformed life is to glorify God and fulfill his kingdom purposes. At the same time, I long to help others discover the depths of God’s love for them and the riches of life with Him. I love to hear about God’s transforming work in the lives of others and how that impacts the world around them.
Birth of a Vision
Through God’s faithfulness, Rhythms of Grace has emerged over several years of seeking a deeper intimacy with God and greater fruit in my life with him. This journey led me to connect with others who had a similar desire including modern and not-so-modern Christian authors as well as fellow Christ-followers. The writings of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Henry Nouwen, and others, as well as the Renovaré community, helped me gain a clearer understanding of the calling and process of being “formed, conformed and transformed” into the likeness of Christ by the power of his Spirit.
In 2012, in the midst of health challenges and chronic pain, the Lord led me to the Renovaré Institute for Spiritual Formation. There I experienced a renewed, profound sense of God’s love for me and the transforming power of a supportive community. During the two-year Institute, God also began to form a vision of how I could share what I had been learning and receiving from him. In the process, he brought together my two life-long passions: the pursuit of spiritual formation and the desire to encourage and support those in vocational ministry. During the Institute, I began to wrestle with the question: “Where can pastors find a safe place to attend to the needs of their own souls?” This question fueled my desire to offer help and hope to pastors in their own journey with God.
Statement of Purpose
Rhythms of Grace is a ministry of Christian spiritual formation dedicated to assisting pastors regarding the care of their own souls. Our desire is to provide a context where pastors can attend to the needs of their hearts for physical rest and spiritual renewal, as well as a practical process for nurturing and sustaining an authentic, inter-active relationship with God. Additionally, we provide a context where this growth can take place in safe, authentic community. The strategy for implementation is two-fold. First, providing a two-day, mid-week encounter where pastors receive a taste of deeper intimacy with God through vision casting, hands-on experiences and Christian community. Second, providing the opportunity for pastors to become involved in an on-going spiritual formation small group with fellow pastors.
Chris Gist is a licensed minister in the Wesleyan Church and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary. "My favorite aspect of ministry is teaching and leading people to grow in spiritual understanding and in relationship to God. When I see the light click on in the eyes of a believer who suddenly "gets it," that is joy and excitement for me!"
Dee Tschida was raised in the Christian church and came to a true personal relationship with Christ over 35 years ago. Intercessory and warfare prayer are her gifting, and she led the warfare prayer team at Riverside Wesleyan Church for ten years. Dee has held board and leadership roles within the church. She presently attends Capital Christian Center.
Jeremiah Wenneker is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary. Currently serving as the Teaching Pastor at Riverside Wesleyan Church, he has a heart for the raising up and formation of fellow living stones.
Kathy Sanchez and her husband currently lead small group bible studies for their senior group and teach a Thursday night kids outreach ministry in Yuba County. In her local church she is a leader in women’s, children’s and mission’s ministry, but not all at once. She also is on the Board of Director’s for Arms of Love Ministry’s which supports international church projects, through which they are able to support a church in Rwanda, Africa. Her greatest desire is to be available to serve Him wherever He calls.
Francesca Favila is a young adult who grew up in a Christian church and her passion for seeing His kingdom come is stronger than ever. She is currently involved in her local church, serving in many capacities, and is continually looking for more ways to serve and build community.