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“The glory of God is man fully alive.” – St. Irenaeus

Man’s Journey to Wholeness

Ever wonder: What is the next step in my personal growth? What is the breakthrough that will propel me forward spiritually? How do I go “over the edge” in order to find deeper meaning on my life’s journey?


“The time of life that you are living calls for decisive choices on your part: decisions about the direction of your studies, about work, about your role in society and in the Church. It is important to realize that among the many questions surfacing in your minds, the decisive ones are not about what. The basic question is who: Who am I to go to, who am I to follow, to whom should I entrust my life?” – Pope John Paul II


If you are like most men, nothing truly and completely fulfills and sustains you on life’s journey – you “climb the mountain” but get stuck at the top or fall back down; or, you start up the mountain but get distracted along the way; or, maybe you never even begin the climb, because it seems too steep. That restless spirit within us – that passion for something which we can’t always name yet is ever-present – tells us there is something inside each one of us that is greater than our individual selves. When and if we do connect with this spirit, it catches hold of us and changes us forever. Some call it “finding the source of God within.” Others call it inspiration or the voice of God. Whatever you call it, it is a life force that God has placed within you. This life force takes you where you are meant to go on life’s journey – from “no where” to “now here.” God intends men to live fully. In fact, God’s joy abounds when we fully come alive.

How do we get there? How do we connect with the Spirit of God? How do we find our center? Our true self? Our God-self? How do we get Over the Edge? A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a journey up a mountainside and then beyond begins with turning the page to a new chapter in our lives. . . .


“If a man is ever to find out who he is and what he is here for, he has got to take that journey for himself. He has got to get his – John Eldredge heart back.”


Over the Edge is a group of guys from all walks of life who are on the journey, just like you. We are men from a variety of faith traditions or no faith tradition – men who have been searching for something deeper within ourselves but are tired of “plastic answers” that may lift us up for a while but don’t sustain us over time. We are guys who are getting beyond “gritting our teeth and bearing it”...getting beyond society’s labels and expectations ...getting beyond the “man code” that limits our communication with other men to just the “safe” stuff: work, women, cars and sports. We’re a group of men seeking deeper meaning and communication with one another and, ultimately, with God. God didn’t intend for men to lead lonely, isolated lives, white-knuckling it by themselves. Over the Edge is a ministry by guys, and for guys, who have realized that they can’t walk the journey alone. We need others to walk with us – to share experiences, to listen, to encourage – so we can find the voice of God within each of us. It’s through this kind of community that we learn to connect with God in us ...that we reach the center of our true selves. Over the Edge believes “head knowledge” about God is not enough to sustain us on the journey. We also have to experience God. And our experiencing God is deepened and validated when we experience God with one another. That’s how God hardwired us. We also are wired to challenge each other to take the next step on our journey – to go over the edge from where we are where we want to be. 7

“The journey to happiness involves finding the courage to go down into ourselves and take responsibility for what’s there: all of it.” – Richard Rohr


Over the Edge isn’t affiliated with any church or denomination, yet most of us worship God in the Christian faith tradition. We are simply a group of guys willing to walk alongside other guys on life’s journey, sharing and learning from each other. We come from all backgrounds. We’re pastors, spiritual directors, whiteand-blue-collar workers, degreed theologians and armchair philosophers. We’re the common man in the pew. We walk together as equals regardless of our backgrounds. We believe that “iron sharpens iron.” And where two or three or more of us are gathered, there God can be found and experienced. If you want what we are finding – that when we seek God together, we find Him actively involved in our lives – then reflect on the spiritual tools listed in this booklet. You may want to throw a few of these in your “toolbox” to help you on your life’s journey....


What tools do I have for life’s journey? Scripture says we are to seek wise counsel. Just like the President of the United States surrounds himself with wise men and women to help him make wise choices, we need to surround ourselves with others so we can keep growing into the men God has created us to be.

“Be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:19


Over the Edge offers these “toolbox skills” for individuals and small groups: • Spiritual Direction – meeting monthly one-onone with another guy who is trained in the gift of discernment, in the tradition of St. Ignatius, to listen and help you sort through and ponder the stuff going on in your life and help you to make wise, God-centered choices • Group Spiritual Direction – meeting monthly with a small group of four to five guys and a trained facilitator, so you can learn how to listen to the voice of God and integrate His words into your daily life • Coaching – meeting one-on-one, in person or over the phone, with a trained life-skills coach, so you can identify what you want to accomplish in life, what steps you need to take to get there, and to help “hold your toes to the fire” to meet your goals • Mentoring – hanging out with another guy or small group of guys in an informal setting to simply share the journey as friends and help sharpen your spiritual focus and growth • Wilderness Retreats – participating in a weekend retreat centered on an experience in nature such as canoeing, kayaking or hiking while reflecting on how God is speaking to you through creation • Directed Retreats – participating in an individual or group silent weekend retreat with times set aside to reflect with a trained guide on how you’re experiencing the presence or absence of God in your life • Discipleship Teams – small groups of 12 men committed to journeying together to coach, teach and follow in Christ’s footsteps

• Day of Discernment – meeting individually with a trained, certified spiritual director to reflect on a particular decision that you’re pondering in order to gain deeper wisdom and insight for reaching a conclusion • Rite of Passage – in keeping with faith and cultural traditions, experiencing the rite of passage into manhood through formal or informal ceremonies • Book Studies – meeting with a small group of men to study and integrate into their lives the wisdom they share from their readings and discussions • Personalized Re-Trek™ – weekend gathering for men seeking clarity in their male identity and/or sexuality confusion. In His Fullness, Inc., of Gainesville, Florida, offers a unique weekend experience to help men navigate sometimes overwhelming and confusing issues and attain deeper wholeness and integrity. Individual coaching can also be provided by In His Fullness, Inc. Applicants may register for a personalized Re-Trek™ through Ask about satellite personalized Re-Treks offered in Michigan. • Foxhole Re-Trek™ – weekend gathering for two men whose spirits have bonded together as close friends like Jonathon and David or Jesus and John and want to learn how to grow deeper in their friendship as God intended. In His Fullness, Inc. offers a weekend experience to help friends understand the unique needs of men and how those needs can be met holistically, and with integrity and honesty. Applicants may register for a Foxhole Re-Trek™ through Ask about satellite Foxhole Re-Treks offered in Michigan. 11

Trained and experienced members of Over the Edge are also available to conduct workshops and speak to groups and churches on numerous topics impacting men and their spirituality. These engagements can be customtailored to fit the needs of your group. They can be offered in half-day, full-day and weekend sessions as well as in six- to eight-week series.


Over the Edge offers these “toolbox skills” for groups and conferences. Topics that we present include: • Prayer – What is it? Why do we pray? How do we like to pray? What are the different forms of prayer? • Listening to God’s Voice – Does God really speak to us? How? How can we learn to hear and understand God’s voice speaking to us? • Discernment – What is it? Why is it important? How does it differ from decision-making? What are the tools and the processes that we can use for discernment? • Gifts – How do we determine what our gifts are? How do we figure out how to use our gifts in ways that bring joy and serve others? Scripture says the main purpose of church is to help us, as individuals, to determine our God-given gifts and talents and then to put them to use for the good of the community. When we are using our gifts and talents, we often find deeper wholeness, purpose and joy. But, without the proper tools and reflection to discover our gifts, we can’t even begin to use them. Using various well-accepted tools such as the StrengthsFinders test, the Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, we can help you and your faith community to discover your individual and group gifts and then coach you on how to put them into practice in ways that bring joy and fulfillment. • The Spirituality of Sex – What does sex have to do with spirituality? How do we form a healthy concept of our sexuality as men? • In His Fullness – What does it mean to share God’s fullness as a man? Emotionally? Physically? Spiritually? Sexually?

• The Man’s Toolbox for the Spiritual Journey – What tools should it contain? How do we develop those tools and keep them sharpened? • Deer Camp 101 – How can we turn hunting time into a joyful encounter with God through nature? • Nature and Spirituality – Does God speak to men through nature? How and in what ways? • Tentmaking and Ministry – How can St. Paul’s life of serving God first as a tentmaker and then as an apostle be a model for our own lives? • Half-Time – What does a “mid-life crisis” really mean? How does God use this transition phase to draw us nearer to Him and to our true selves? • Men Who Are Heroes – Whom are the role models men can look to, the heroes who inspire us to be the captains of our own souls? • Fathered by God – What do the six stages of the male spirit – boyhood, cowboy, warrior, lover, king, sage – tell us about ourselves and where we are in life? • The Artist’s Way – How can we find God through the use of our creative gifts – writing, painting, sculpting and other art forms? • Life in the Eucharist – How can we experience the depth of what it means to receive and become the Bread of Life through the celebration of the Eucharist? How do we move beyond just receiving Communion and instead allow it to transform our lives like the manna in the desert transformed the Israelites on their journey? 13

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


Over the Edge was co-founded by Brian Plachta, a spiritual director and Roman Catholic lay ecclesial minister, and Nathaniel “Than” Johnson, ordained clergy in the United Methodist Church. Brian is a candidate for a Master of Pastoral Counseling degree through the Graduate Theological Foundation, Mishawaka, Indiana. He is an adjunct professor at the Dominican Center at Marywood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is a lay Dominican Associate. He completed Certification for Spiritual Direction through the Dominican Center and has taken classes as a deacon candidate through the Diocese of Grand Rapids. He has participated in additional advanced theological classes through Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Married and the father of four, he also serves as an attorney with the West Michigan law firm of Plachta, Murphy & Associates, P.C. Contact Brian at 616-446-3393 or via e-mail at Than graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, with an undergraduate degree in Christian Ministry; he subsequently received his Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He was born in Tokyo, Japan, where his missionary parents served for many years with the Wesleyan Church. Currently, Than is serving as a hospital chaplain and lives on a farm in Ada, Michigan, with his wife and their four children. Contact Than at 616-644-2812 or by e-mail at Over the Edge is a laymen’s ministry rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It aspires to carry out its mission in an ecumenical, orthodox and biblical fashion, always desiring to be led by the Spirit of God.


Is it time for you to go Over The Edge? ...helping men discover the Spirit of the Man who lives within them.



“The glory of God is man fully alive.” – St. Irenaeus What is the breakthrough that will propel me forward spiritually? How do I go “over th...