Discipleship. Time for something new (and old)

Consider the following quote by Nick Taylor, pastor of spiritual formation, Coast Hills Community Church, Aliso Viejo, CA.

“Why have so many Sundays of Bible teaching produced so few spiritually mature adults?” For all the work that the church has done toward educating adults, we seem to have much less to show for it than one would expect.
… For children of all ages, churches tend to offer an incredible array of learning tools and opportunities through which they can discover Christ. Retreats, trips, and events for spiritual growth abound. Meetings are often designed to be interactive and application-oriented. Current issues are addressed, and cultural relevance is a given in all aspects of youth ministry.
Unfortunately, much of our adult education ministry has not continued in the same vein of creative learning. By adulthood much, if not all, of the educational process has narrowed toward the schooling model alone. Discipleship instruction becomes an offering of classes and the Sunday sermon. There is no guidance developmentally, no growth in intentional relationships, and no spiritual goals to press toward. Spiritual maturity is measured in church attendance and moral behavior, while the condition of the heart and conscience remain unchecked. Sin is viewed as a list of bad things to avoid rather than an internal nature to be reckoned with.”

This charge, directed at Sunday School classes, is equally valid with cell groups and Bible studies. The problem seems to spring from the fact that common models of Church discipleship is “cognitive”… focused on right thinking. Since spirituality is integrated… involving our whole being, it seems obvious that spiritual discipleship should be equally integrated.

While small groups, such as Sunday School, cell groups, and Bible studies, seems to be an important component for spiritual growth, it is possible that churches have focused on the wrong types of small groups for adults.

Perhaps rather than focusing most of our efforts on the above three types of small groups, some others should be considered:

-Growth groups
-Accountability groups
-1 on 1 discipleship teams
-Ministry teams
-Mentoring programs

Yes. Some of the above groups overlap. That is okay. The point is that groups should not be unbalanced in their discipleship, and they should not be based on models that tend to gravitate towards being unbalanced. Why is this post titled “Discipleship. Time for something new (and old)”? Because Jesus used an integrative apprenticeship form of discipleship. Barnabbas did as well. This is not something new, strictly speaking. Just new to us.

If you check out the PRESENTATIONS page on this blogsite, you will see the first presentation is “Integrative Steps of Learning”. This shows how education, particularly in the church can be done differently.

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