Posts Tagged theology
Yesterday my precocious 4-year-old said he wanted to be baptized. I don’t think he’s ready yet; our church doesn’t baptize kids until they are at least seven.
But, how would I know if he was ready?
What is the minimum someone needs to truly understand in order to authentically embark on a lifelong journey of discipleship? In short, how should you explain the gospel to preschoolers?
At Catalyst One Day, Pastor Andy Stanley explained how North Point Community Church‘s Sunday School curriculum focused on hammering home a small set of basic truths at each stage of life. Surprisingly, perhaps due to the decentralized nature of North Point’s ministries, I couldn’t find them written down in one place. Here’s what I’ve been able to compile.
We have decided that our primary goal in Waumba Land is to introduce our kids to their heavenly Father. That’s why everything that we teach can be boiled down to the following Three Basic Truths:
- God made me – CREATOR
- God loves me – FATHER
- Jesus wants to be my friend forever – FRIEND
We want our kids to know:
1. I need to make the wise choice. [Wisdom]
2. I can trust God no matter what. [Faith]
3. I should treat others the way I want to be treated. [Friendship]
1) Authentic Faith
You have to believe and trust in Jesus Christ as your personal savior if you want to go to heaven. But faith in Christ also allows you to live on earth in a daily relationship with a heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally. As an all-knowing and all-powerful father, you can trust him to lead you the right way.
2) Spiritual Priorities
God designed you to have a relationship with him. Your intimacy with him will provide the foundation you need to face whatever life can possibly throw at you. His friendship with you provides ultimate fulfillment and security.
3) Moral Boundaries
Purity paves the way to intimacy. The most important thing you can do is to establish specific guidelines in your dating life. You need to learn how to protect your body and emotions by honoring God’s plan for sex and morality.
4) Meaningful Friendships
Your friends determine the direction and quality of your life. If you walk with the wise, you grow wise. Spending time with the right kind of friends definitely helps you grow in a positive and healthy direction. Scripture also teaches that the companion of fools will suffer harm. Learn to build healthy friendships and avoid unhealthy friends.
5) Wise Choices
In light of your past experiences, present circumstances, and future hopes and dreams, you need to ask yourself, “”What is the wise thing to do?”" Good decision-making is more than simply choosing between right and wrong. It is the skill of applying scriptural principles so you can make smart choices that will protect your future.
6) Others First
Scripture teaches that God has created you to do good works and that he has given you unique gifts and talents. Discovering those gifts and using them to make investments in others is the key to lifelong fulfillment.
7) God-Given Authority
To have authority, you must be under authority. The parents, teachers, and leaders that God has placed in your life are there to guide you and guard your potential. The greatest lesson you can learn is to respect and honor those who are in authority.
One of the most controversial aspects of Knight Club is that it treats pride (“By Myself”) like anger (“Not Fair”): an emotion which is prone to sin, but is not necessarily a sin — and can even be a virtue.
While it is true that the vast majority of Bible verses mention pride in the context of sin, a number acknowledge its positive role. Here are some that are often translated using the word “pride.” The words “glory” and “boasting” are also used. The point isn’t to quibble about specific words, but to point out that the same general concept (independence, ambition, self-reliance — whatever you want to call it) can lead us towards both good and evil, depending on whether it is submitted to God.
- Galatians 6:4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
- Romans 15:17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.
- Romans 11:13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry
- Romans 4:2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God.
- Philippians 1:26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
- James 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.
As well as a few of the negatives, for comparison:
My goal for this summer is to turn my 36-week Bible study “Growing Church Leaders” into a three-volume series of picture books for my preschoolers. Here’s my first cut at text for the first one, “Think Biblically”, written one tweet at a time:
- God is the One who made everything. He made you for a special purpose. He wants everyone to know how He loves them.
- God is three persons: a Father who sends us, Jesus the Son who rescues us, and a Spirit who helps us.
- God wants us to love Him and other people as much as we love ourself. Sin is when we disobey God’s good purpose for us.
- Sin makes it hard for us to know, want or do what is right. Jesus came to earth, died, and rose again to destroy sin.
- Following Jesus means believing He loves us more than we love ourself, which means obeying Him will make us the most happy.
- God gives us parents, the Bible, church and His Spirit to show us how to love people and be happy His way.
- Jesus went to heaven, but will come back to create and rule a new heaven & earth for all who want to live His way.
- Until Jesus returns, our job is to show how wonderful it is to live and love the way God wants.
One of the ways I tackle “wicked problems” is by exploring different possible answers in order to help clarify the essential question. My posts on flying and mastering the dragons of manhood have been useful in helping me recognize that the two main questions Knight Club is trying to answer are:
- What does it mean to be a man?
- What can we do to help our sons become those kind of men?
I believe the most critical aspect of authentic manhood is “moral authority,” where people trust you will do the right thing.
The LEAD! course format evolved considerably during the time I wrote it, especially in the first 3 months. We are working to publish it as a three-volume bible study, which means I need to go back and make the first few lessons consistent with the latter ones. So, I’ll try to rewrite each of the lessons from Part A at the rate of at least one per week.
The new lessons will replace the ones currently in the syllabus; links to the original lessons are archived below.
The LEAD! Bible Study is a tripod, built on three legs:
- theological education
- character formation
- skill development
While these roughly correspond to three 12-week “trimesters”, the larger goal is to incorporate all three aspects in each and every segment. The question thus becomes, what is the most effective way to integrate theological truth into the lives of lay leaders?
In my Rules of War, I assert that the most important challenge is to “Know your Objective” — i.e., understand where you are going. Earlier, I stated that The Purpose of Comprehensive Theological Education was:
to equip leaders for a lifelong journey of bringing their “whole selves” (heart, soul, mind & strength) and “whole worlds” (family, church, community & marketplace) into ever-increasing alignment with God’s purpose (redemption, kingdom & glory).
There’s a more concise way to phrase that: conforming to the image of Christ, aka “Imago Christi”. I consider this the central tenet and purpose of Comprehensive Theological Education. Over time (I have no idea when), I hope to fill in other ‘CTE Lights’. Stay tuned…
Even though I haven’t posted for a while, I’ve been thinking a lot about Comprehensive Theological Education. In particular, I’ve been trying to identify the key “success factors” necessary to improve upon traditional methods. Here’s my current list. Any thing you’d like to add, Gentle Reader?
As I’ve been meditating on the idea of “Comprehensive Theology“, I’ve begun to realize that it’s main difference from systematic theology isn’t merely (or even primarily) the content. Rather, it is whole pedagogy associated with traditional theological instruction I am reacting against. I might characterize (caricature?) the traditional model as:
The purpose of Academic Theological Education [ATE] is to indoctrinate students into an intellectual understanding of, and belief in, the central truths of their religious tradition.
As contrasted with:
The purpose of Comprehensive Theological Education [CTE] is to equip leaders for a lifelong journey of bringing their “whole selves” (heart, soul, mind & strength) and “whole worlds” (family, church, community & marketplace) into ever-increasing alignment with God’s purpose (redemption, kingdom & glory).
My original thought was “ATE bad, CTE good” — but that actually is not the case. Read more for details…