What Pastors Say About Tres Dias
In our April-May-June issue, we invited spiritual directors in the Tres Dias communities to complete a short questionnaire, telling us about their personal response to their first Tres Dias weekend and how Tres Dias had made a difference in the spiritual life of their congregations. We hoped that the survey would provide convincing endorsements of the Tres Dias experience, information we could use in future publications aimed at those pastors who were not familiar with Tres Dias or who were resisting involvement because of distorted information. We also hoped that the survey would provide insight into how that message could be conveyed to pastors more effectively. We were pleased to receive 30 valid responses, brim-full of evidence about how the Spirit of the Lord changes individuals as well as congregations.
The questionnaire opened by asking how the respondent had heard about Tres Dias. Surprisingly, only three of the pastors learned about Tres Dias from other clergy. For all others, an introduction came via a member of their congregation or a friend.
The second question asked if respondents felt any reservations about attending their first weekend. Again, the results were surprising, suggesting that Tres Dias no longer suffers from a cult-like stigma. Only one respondent cited the issue of secrecy (“It all sounded a bit mysterious”). Another feared that it might be some kind of “groupie experience,” and another anticipated that it would be trite and superficial. All others had no reservations. Many said that they were eager to attend, and that their confidence in attending came as a result of their deep personal respect for those individuals who had told them about Tres Dias.
Our next question asked if respondents were comfortable with the theological discussions on the weekend. Indeed, they were. “The talks covered all the denominational strengths while focusing on Jesus” one respondent wrote, words that were echoed by many others. “It was refreshing to be part of a theological discussion that was not dogmatic, but Spirit-led,” another respondent wrote. “I was aware that this was an ecumenical group. I welcomed getting to know others outside my denomination. It was a growing experience for me,” said a third. There were only two negative responses. One described a table discussion that veered off into a disruptive discussion about speaking in tongues. The other referred to a skit that made the respondent uncomfortable. All in all, the responses confirm that the weekends “Celebrate those things that all Christians have in common, while respecting the differences.”As a result of their weekend experience, these pastors reported that they became active in encouraging their congregants to attend Tres Dias.
The questionnaire asked for approximately how many members in the congregation had attended Tres Dias, then followed up by inviting respondents to describe how congregants’ attendance changed the faith dynamics in the congregation. Here are some representative responses.
“Folks return with a deeper focus on Jesus and for loving service to one another. They are less concerned with ecclesiastical externals or preferences, but on relationships. They emerge from the weekend with a greater commitment to serve in their local church. This is the strength of this ministry.”
“Tres Dias has been a good, clean, cool stream of water refreshing our congregation. I think all churches need this kind of new experience coming in from outside of their own church.”
“The personal impact Tres Dias has made on many individuals has helped many to deal with their personal issues, step up to leadership roles and take their discipleship more seriously. There is more commitment to the local church by those who have been through Tres Dias.”
“It has helped our people to the final surrender mode for Christ . . . . They came to a new level of spiritual life and freedom and dedication which affected our church.”
Our final (and most important) question was this: How would you explain TD to other pastors? Here are some of the responses:
“Tres Dias is a three-day, intensive weekend in which you will encounter the living Christ through a community of men and women who have allowed God to gently confront their brokenness and set their hearts on a path toward healing and reconciliation. It provides a context in which individuals can experience the living Christ in a truly transformational way. There will be laughter; there will be tears; there will be worship and communion. And, in the end, there will be a renewed heart for, and commitment to, Christ.”
“Tres Dias is a three day encounter with the Lord where you will worship, experience a sweet presence of the Holy Spirit, you will hear testimonies of lay people and messages from other pastors in our local community. It’s a great opportunity to get to know some other pastors and create lifelong friendships with them.”
“This ‘short course in Christianity’ serves to renew or re-awaken the knowledge that God is sufficient in all things; that Christ is the salvation of the world; and that the Holy Spirit is the source of energy, inspiration and solace so badly needed in today’s world. The community built around the weekend will enhance the fellowship and community of an individual church in ways only God could and would design.”
“Tres Dias is a weekend encounter with Jesus Christ that allows you to take a clear inventory of your spiritual walk with Him and with the church. It promotes a spiritual atmosphere that gives you the opportunity to draw near to God without intimidation or judgment from others. What has helped me is that you can be real as you see others being real and you realize that we are all more alike than different.”