Pastor Sarah Ciavarri led a Daring Way retreat for our synodical faith formation leaders. I can think of few topics more timely for all leaders in our church to be addressing than the holy vulnerability that allows us to model a life of humble self awareness and spiritual integrity - particularly important in our highly fractured and image-conscious society. I am deeply grateful for Sarah’s poignant and passionate guidance on this journey.
— Rev. Jim Gonia, Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Area Synod
Sarah was an invaluable guest lecturer in my class on Women in Ministry at Luther Seminary. Her presentation of Brown’s Daring Way™ material was exactly what the students needed to recognize the accessible and meaningful ways in which wholehearted living is essential for ministry. Sarah’s class session connected vulnerability, understanding shame and resiliency, authenticity, and joy to ministry, theology, and pastoral life. It is these kinds of connections that will equip pastors and persons in ministry to live, lead, and encourage vibrant and whole lives for the sake of the world God loves.
— Dr. Karoline Lewis, Associate Professor of Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Though I had read Brene’ Brown’s books and loved her work, it wasn’t until I took the Daring Way™ for Church Leaders class with Rev. Sarah Ciavarri that it really came to life for me. Taking time to learn the material and apply it to my life put me in a vulnerable, open place and that’s where so much learning happened. Sarah has a passion for this work and she has a heart to help others to live wholeheartedly. She led a Daring Way™ for Church Leaders Integration group that met once a month via phone after the class that I also participated in. Those conversations were another essential key in helping me become more shame resilient. The next summer I took the Rising Strong in Church Leadership course and discovered some things that were transformational in my personal and professional life. Before I took these classes I experienced a shame storm unlike anything I’d ever been in and now I am aware of my shame triggers, my emotions and ways to cultivate wholehearted living. Because of these courses and the follow-up group, I am on my way to being much more shame resilient. I’m very grateful.
— Chaplain Rev. Nancy Carlson
I was blown away by how often I found the content speaking to me personally. Conversations about identity and empathy and worthiness really gave me pause to do some self-examination. That said, I think the letter-writing activity was the most helpful piece. Having time to reflect on the content and “speak” to myself was incredibly cathartic and grounding. I didn’t expect the retreat to have such a profound impact on me personally, but some of my reflections have informed who I am in the world and how I lead. A bunch of amazing things have happened as a result of our time together! What we learned is certainly informing our attempts to build Christ’s Church at OFLC. Thank you again for your time and guidance.
— Amy F., Congregational Leader
I had read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, which was great. But this conversation allowed me actually engage the material, not just think about the material. Putting words to the thoughts, and then actions, placed this material onto Holy Ground, and became a spiritual practice that I hadn’t anticipated. The opportunity to be in community, led by Sarah, was a gift plopped in front of me straight from Heaven.
— Kristen Baltrum, Deaconess
This was one of the best continuing Ed retreats I have ever attended. This retreat really went straight to the heart of relationships and some of the surprising ways relationships are undermined by our lack of willingness to allow our true selves to shine through.
— Rev. Brenda Frelsi
This retreat was more than I ever hoped for. I leave here with a full heart.”

”This was a special day of rest and peace with the Lord and myself.”

”Sarah’s presentation provided real tangible suggestions that can be implemented today. I won’t go home
and say ‘great teaching’ and never think of it again.”

”This opened up so much for me, naming/identifying what I couldn’t label before and tools and strategies
for being my true self.
— Workshop Attendees
Learning about vulnerability affected me on several levels: on a professional level, I could connect with my peers about what parts of our jobs encouraged or inhibited vulnerability; on a personal level, I asked myself questions about where I was at with self-compassion, something I struggle with. This experience was life-giving because it opened up opportunities for our group to relate to each other. Such connection was a gift- not only did we have stirring and relevant conversations but we also had good laughs.
— Anonymous
The Daring Way is life changing. Many an ah-ha moment along with steps and tools to take action in moving forward with implementing the information provided. The best part is it meets you where you are, embraces you there, then walks with you along the journey. I believe everyone at any level will gain from this in their lives. Then it encourages you to keep striving.
— Sheri Peterson
Being WITH strong vulnerable women of faith, I find there is no greater space to be real than with “vulnerabilibuddies”.
Thank you for creating, encouraging and supporting a space to accept and honestly experience being vulnerable, which opened the doors to acknowledging and accepting our “gifts of imperfection”!
Your genuine, intentional delivery of your message was inspiring! You engaged the group BOTH as individuals AND as members of the inclusive body of Christ. I would describe the experience as STUFF not FLUFF J You referenced scripture sprinkled with activities to provoke thought and action!
Take aways:
Permission slips! This is truly a GIFT (regardless of the outcome – the permission is powerful)
Marbles! These are strength! Marble jars are filled with “living ~ active ~ support and love”
BREATHING PRAYER ~ my favorite thing since “coloring prayer”!!!
I am grateful for the experience,
the time to reflect and grow in my faith and relationships,
I am excited about the opportunity to live into my refreshed outlook on JOY!
— CindyTayler
please, don’t miss this opportunity to be in such a wonderful community to learn, renew, rest and laugh in this unique setting with Gods people. the experience is outstanding and worth every moment of your life.
— Jeff Kelty
Walking into this worship it’s very easy to brush off this idea of “shame” and say I have nothing I am ashamed of. Then little by little, the layers are peeled away and you come down to the core of what you are afraid of. And I think, more often than not, this is what we are also ashamed of. It was wonderful to have a safe space to explore this vulnerability and have people walk along side you as you conquered this fear and released the shame!
— Anonymous
“Through my work with Sarah, I have been transformed. The work of sharing my shame with others so I no longer carry it alone has been redemptive. I was taught ways to listen to the negative voices in my head . . . and not let them rule my life. I am able to enter arena’s with more confidence and empathy for myself and others. It had helped me die to my old way of shame talk taking the wheel, and gave me new life. Our greatest commandment is to love God, and love our neighbors AS OURSELVES. I believe that the Daring Way™ has the tools to help us do just that; learn how to love ourselves in order to better love the community.”
— Luther Seminary student
The opportunity to be in community and address shame and vulnerability were helpful for me as I work to lead and model discipleship for my congregation and our youth in particular. Following Jesus invites us into deep relationships with one another and this time away working together to learn, grow and allow time to really take in the learning was renewing and life giving.
— Rev. Margot Wright
“Pastor Sarah’s guidance with the work of Brené Brown is so important to the life of the church. The church needs to be a safe place where people can be vulnerable and show their authentic selves. What better place for that to happen than a community of
people who are supposed to be centered on grace? We often fall short in encouraging people to put their armor down and “show up” at church, with their real lives and real selves. Pastor Sarah does a masterful job of integrating Brené Brown’s work with the gospel. People in my parish have heard Pastor Sarah preach, and have come to two workshops. Each time they’ve walked away with a renewed sense of loving their whole self, and the wisdom of being courageously vulnerable. I myself have tried to model vulnerability in my own preaching, teaching, and presence. Each time it’s always led to a greater sense of connection with God, the community, and with myself. It’s always made people more receptive to me and my ministry.”
— Pastor Tim Tengblad of Advent Lutheran, Maple Grove, MN
If courage is contagious, every Christian needs to take this class, to bring contagious courage into our congregations, our neighborhoods, and God’s world.
— Bethany Ringdal
The Brené Brown event is fresh and refreshing and on point for personal and professional life. I walked away feeling empowered.
— Sarah Tufvesson Doure
What a privilege to be a part of a women's retreat led by the genuinely joy-filled Sarah Ciavarri! She challenged us to delve deeper within ourselves and with each other to turn our self judgment into wonder, to ask for what we truly need, and to build authentic connections that have continued beyond the weekend we spent together. In addition, she gave us the tools to cultivate a more wholehearted and abundant life, with Christ and our core values at the center. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn with and from her and highly recommend her as a presenter and facilitator! Keep daring greatly, Sarah! I appreciate you!”
— Jennifer Hicks, MT-BC, RYT, Joyful Noises LLC

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