disciples in a turbulent world

A challenge that is worth the struggle

Christian education
- spiritual information or spiritual in/formation?

We have inherited a faith formed by a Jewish man and a band of his friends, which became a global movement with three centers (Rome, Constantinople, and North Africa) in its first 500 years.

The North African center was decimated by Islam in the 7th - 9th centuries, leaving two centers, which coexisted until about 1000 AD, when they split.

Then. the faith we have inherited re-formed in a multi-faceted argument with medieval Western Christianity « « then re-formed several more times in a series of debates within various forms nominal modern Christianity « .The Roman Church became the center of Western culture until about 500 years ago.

secularism. .« the faith we have inherited was additionally deeply influenced by the skepticism. and consumerism of modernity.

« our faith was additionally deeply influenced by 19th century revivalism and ´revived revivalismµ in the mid-20th century. . This version of the Christian faith which we have inherited presents us with a number of categories for discipleship or ´spiritual growth.µ several of which are being re-thought (and re-formed) today.

discipleship. . spiritual growth are being re-thought.Terms like « evangelism. teaching. Christian education. sanctification.

Christian education. The term ´spiritual formationµ in many ways is a substitute for some dimensions of all of these terms.Terms like « evangelism. discipleship. spiritual growth are being re-thought. . sanctification. teaching.

« in the Patristic Church (2nd . How would you describe spiritual formation in the New Testament church? 2.Truly.6th centuries) 3. « in the Medieval Church (6th . « in the early Reformation (16th-18th) 5.16th) 4. 1.always reforming. the church is ´semper reformandaµ -. « in the 19th-20th centuries .

Sunday School Classes Seminaries Preaching/Teaching Courses/Lessons Booklets with blanks to fill in .The modern version of Christianity which we have inherited largely saw spiritual formation as a cognitive process of acquiring information through study and teaching.. Bible studies.. .

) Many of you may share this belief. (Some believed that attending the right rituals had the same effect... theology). I believe. doctrines. which is still dominant in the American evangelical subculture today. . But I believe . right behavior would flow naturally.It was often tacitly believed (and occasionally overtly stated) that if one had the right knowledge (beliefs.

with a small footnote about character development with a smaller footnote about spiritual experience with a smaller footnote about social/global transformation.Our contemporary gospel is primarily INFORMATION ON HOW TO GO TO HEAVEN AFTER YOU DIE with a large footnote about increasing your personal happiness and success through God. .

self church world world .

world church self .

For God sent his son into the world to condemn the world. (Not John 3:16) . so that if I would believe in him I would not perish but have life in heaven after death. but to save me.The individual gospel For God so loved me that he sent his only begotten son.

For God sent his son into the world to condemn the world.The ecclesiastic gospel For God so hated the world that he sent his only begotten son. (Not John 3:16) . that whoever believes in him should not perish but have life in heaven after death. but to save the church.


faith formation
in a postmodern age

Spiritual Formation is a holistic way to talk about everything God wants to do in us, including what we have traditionally meant by evangelism and discipleship (etc.) « and more!

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect [complete, mature, fully formed] in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

COL 1:27

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

GAL 4:19

When they saw him. (Matthew 28:16-20) . but some doubted.The Gospel of Matthew ends with these important words: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee. Therefore go and make [spiritually form] disciples [apprentices] of all nations. ³All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And surely I am with you always. and teaching them to obey [practice] everything I have commanded you. to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. Then Jesus came to them and said. they worshiped him. to the very end of the age.

we have preached a ´gospel of sin managementµ with an optional footnote about character development. with a more optional footnote about spiritual practices and experience ...Too often. .

and convenient way to go to heaven after one dies. . easy. The gospel has become information on a fast.« and an even more optional footnote about making a difference in the world. That must change.

.. (We have turned a finish line into a starting line) «but rather to spiritually form disciples .Our call is not to win converts or Christians.

as in L. L. fr. a follower who has learned to believe in the truth of the doctrine of his teacher. fr.disciple \Dis*ci"ple\. the disciples of our Savior . a learner. disciple. discipulus. pellere to drive.] One who receives instruction from another. see Docile) + prob. the disciples of Plato. OF. deciple. an adherent or student of a doctrine or art as. disciple. a scholar. a root meaning to turn or drive. n. especially. discere to learn (akin to docere to teach. [OE.

Disciples are apprentices of Jesus. .

These losses are usually irretrievable. Personal Knowledge: Toward a Postcritical Philosophy (1958) It follows that an art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. There are hundreds of examples of this to which the process of mechanization is continuously adding new ones.From Michael Polanyi. .

.equipped with microscopy and chemistry.It is pathetic to watch the endless efforts -. with mathematics and electronics -.to reproduce a single violin of the kind the half-literate Stradivarius turned out as a matter of routine more than 200 years ago.

.To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyze and account in detail for its effectiveness. including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example. the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art.

These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of the master. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition. .

(pp.« practical wisdom is more truly embodied in action than expressed in rules of action. 53-54) .

Disciples/apprentices primarily learn not by listening or trying but by training. .

.Think of running a marathon Playing piano Painting a landscape Building a house Mastering kung fu «training.

What if we put everything on the table and risked everything to succeed at this one thing: «training disciples? .



what is spiritual formation? .

We have a rich heritage of approaches to spiritual formation: Celtic Charismatic Liberal/Activist Monastic Revivalist Reformed Sacramental Ascetic Non-ascetic Anchorite Contemplative Fundamentalist .

sorrows.A Triangle Spirituality External Environment Context Community Mission Experiences of life « joys. sufferings. pleasures .

critical knowledge about the Bible. of the Bible·s teachings and meanings. is indispensable. This literacy does not consist of historical. its syntax and grammar. Nor does it consist of theological accounts.´Biblical literacy. its images and symbols. though not sufficient. which need to be internalized if one is to imagine and think scripturally « What is to be promoted are those approaches which increase familiarity with the actual text.µ George Lindbeck The Nature of Doctrine . couched in nonbiblical language. Rather it is the patterns and details of its sagas and stories.

to be baptized.How. The Nature of Doctrine . it seeks to teach the language and practices of the religion to potential adherents. George Lindbeck. This method resembles ancient catechesis more than modern translation. This has been the primary way of transmitting the faith and winning converts«down through the centuries«Only after [catechumens] had acquired proficiency in the alien Christian language and form of life were they deemed able intelligently and responsibly to profess faith. Instead of redescribing the faith in new concepts. as modern Christians often put it. does one preach the gospel in a dechristianzed world?«The [postmodern] method of dealing with this problem is bound to be unpopular among those chiefly concerned to maintain or increase the membership and influence of the church.

Process (versus event) focus into the mission (versus lore): Induction/Initiation Transformation Transmission .

1. Induction: Adapted from Hippolytus « 3rd century .

Goal: Beginning to follow Christ Content: Observation of the community (belonging before believing) Milestone: Interview (behavioral questions) and permission to attend the whole service .1. The Seeker Phase.

The Hearer Phase Goal: Discipleship Content: Discipleship. hardship. stewardship. worship. partnership Milestone: Requesting baptism .2. fellowship.

apostles creed. spiritual warfare) Milestone: Rite of Baptism (Easter) .3. The Kneeler Phase Goal: Equipping Content: Equipping for ministry (Memorizing the Lord·s prayer.

The Faithful Stage Goal: Incorporate Content: Discern and use gifts.4. induct others. prepare for martyrdom Milestone: Eucharist . witness and outreach.

after induction « what next? .

stop thinking like children. whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. unless you change and become like little children. you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 1CO 14:20 . In regard to evil be infants. 3 And he said: "I tell you the truth. 4 Therefore. but in your thinking be adults.« MT 18:2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. Brothers.

transformation «until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19) .

1999) Simplicity Complexity Perplexity Humility . Zondervan.Transformation: From Finding Faith (McLaren.

«the threefold way (stages of spiritual formation) .

«the purgative way (catharsis) .

«the illuminative way (fotosis) .

«the unitive way (theosis) .


I came here to tell you how it·s going to begin. and then I·m going to show these people what you don·t want them to see. I didn·t come here to tell you how it·s going to end. You·re afraid of us. I don·t know the future.µ . You·re afraid of change.´I know you·re out there. I know that you·re afraid. without borders or boundaries. I·m going to show them a world without you. a world where anything is possible. I can feel you now. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you. I·m going to hang up this phone. a world without rules and controls.

the end of christian education .

«the end of classes (and the beginning of courses) .

«the end of information (and the beginning of in/formation) .

«the end of pretending (and the beginning of authenticity) .

but rather of thinking .«the end of teaching (and the beginning of teachers/mentors) learning is not a function of teaching.

«the end of Bible Study (and the beginning of inhabiting the Biblical narrative) .

lectio divina ignatian readings memorization meditation centering prayer .

«the end of christian education (doctrine) and the beginning of christian practice (way of life) .

«the end of sunday school and the beginning life school .



the end of christian education: may your kingdom come« .

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