LEAD! A Transformational Small Group Bible Study


The format I’m proposing for LEAD! is what I’m calling a “Transformational Small Group Bible Study”. This builds on my many years in InterVarsity Small Groups during eleven years of college, as well as numerous “home groups” in churches since then. The key aspects are:

• Bible Study

History and philosophy have their place, but for sheer impact nothing beats digging directly into the Word of God. The primary method of teaching is working inductively through a specific passage of Scripture, with additional resources acting as supplements. In addition to implicitly teaching good study skills, this also opens the door for the Holy Spirit to provide insights beyond the wisdom of the original author (i.e., me :-).

• Small Group

The best way to learn is in a small, focused team of 6-8 people (or, more broadly, 3-12). This provides both a sounding board for digesting information as well as accountability and encouragement for living it out.
• Transformational

The ultimate goal of the group is not so much to acquire information, but to be personally and corporately transformed — by and while transforming the world around us.
Below is a suggested format for achieving that…
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Transformation: A Unifying Vision of the Church’s Mission

Last week I was privileged to finally see an early draft copy of the book on Transformation I helped Luis Bush with a couple years ago, based on the Transformational Covenant they developed in Indonesia. This version came out of the second Transform World Conference (India 2006), and it mentions that the “final” version should be available in a few months. I can’t wait to start buying copies for people I know, both ministers and theologians, as I believe this really does represent God’s heart (“missio dei“) for the church in the 21st Century.

Some excerpts and summaries below…

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Envisioning a Radical Centrist Orthodoxy

In a fit of chutzpah, I decided to write the aforementioned Dr. Reno — not merely to express admiration for his work, but (gulp) to suggest a new direction he might want to pursue. I’m not quite sure how he’ll take it, but the letter turned into a reasonably concise summary of my own hopes and dreams, so I figured I’d blog it here.

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Dr. Russell Reno: Radical Middle Theologian?

My old Sunday School teacher Peter Wagner used to joke that the First Rule of Christian Debate was to pick the worst example of the other side and use that to justify your own position. Alas, he knew from painful experience that such tactics were no laughing matter, but all too common a problem in theological circles.

Which is why I was so thrilled to run across the writings (excerpted below) of Episcopalian professor Dr. Russell Reno of Creighton University in Nebraska. His writings display that rare combination of:

* an in-depth understanding of the challenges of both modernity and post-modernity
* a disciplined desire to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of alternate viewpoints
* the ability to lucidly identify the central issue in dense theological debates
* a heartfelt commitment to Jesus and historic Christianity

My only regret is that — at least in his writings — he seems, well, sad; almost a Jeremiah tenaciously clinging to faith amidst the ruins of contemporary Christendom. I wonder if contact with Transformationalists from other countries might help buoy his spirits…

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ToLD: The Theory of Love’s Dominion

In Theology and Political Science, the term Dominion Theory — which seems to cover both Dominion Theology and Dominionism — refer to a cluster of related ideologies that start from the assumption that God has explicitly granted humanity Dominion over nature; and usually some people Dominion over others! Historically, this partly includes popular movements like Manifest Destiny and Zionism, though those have also had a strong secular component.

Today, the term is used largely as pejorative, such as when it is applied to Christian Reconstructionists. However, the underlying concepts bear a strong family resemblance to the kingdom theology underlying Transformationalism, which implies we need a clear differentiator. Thus, I feel it necessary to stake out a concrete alternative to classical Dominion Theory (DT), which I have labeled the “Theory of Love’s Dominion” (ToLD).

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A Blueprint for Transforming Africa by Sayo Ajiboye

I have a new hero — Sayo Ajiboye. His blog Lead Africa basically documents his attempts to do what I’ve merely been talking about: develop a biblical theology capable of supporting wide-scale transformational change. Africa is arguably the crucible for a new understanding of economics, because it demonstrates the horror of what happens when one attempts to impose modern financial practices on a non-theistic moral structure. I hope to connect with his MISSION AFRICA INTERNATIONAL; I suspect he might know evangelists like Luis Bush and Ed Silvoso — though I wonder if I’m more closely linked via geeks like Doc Searls. 🙂
He just posted a brilliant spiritual-economic analysis of Mobilizing for Change in Africa; [Read more] for excerpts.
Update: More fans of Sayo Ajiboye
* Business as Morality by Doc Searls, via Nat Tarkington
* Commentarium Catholicum, citing Sayo’s response to a BBC Discussion on euthanasia
* achievable ends by Bill Kinnon
* Openness is more than an API by david n wallace the LifeKludger
* Melting the icecube by Jeff Risley
* World For Jesus “Gathering of the Eagles in Nigeria”
* April Showers? in Susan Kitchen’s 20-20 Hindsight
* Muddling towards Betlehem by John Kellden in tribe.net

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The Transformational Cascade

Imago Christi!

From The Vine

Plentiful Love
Peaceful Justice
Powerful Humility

To The Branch

More Jesus
More Cross
More Kingdom

More Truth
More Forgiveness
More Power

For The Kingdom

From All of God
In All of Me
With All of my Wife
As All of our Family
Through All of my Ministry
By All of my Work
To All our Community
Into All the World
For All of God’s Kingdom

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The Transformational Spiral

[Updated 11/12: “Structures” -> “Systems”; Structures constrain, Systems enable]

I was talking to my friend/pastor John Isaacs about his work with TASCC, and I was struck by the parallels between what he was doing in the Christian community and what I’m trying to do within the technology community. In particular, the goal is NOT to engender a short-lived fad driven by our own personality, but nurture a long-lived, self-sustaining movement. In short, to not merely do a good work, but a great work.

What’s make the difference? I call it the Transformational Spiral, and it requires:

* Authentic Leaders
* Personal Relationships
* External Beneficiaries
* Sufficient Systems

Click [Read More] for my attempt to unpack that.

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Measuring Transformation

Can one measure transformation? Can we identify the behaviors that enable transformation? Can we tell if we are doing it correctly?

I believe the answer to the first two is ‘yes’, though I’m less sure about the third. Still, I admire anyone who makes an honest attempt. To that end, I was very intrigued by Biola’s new Spiritual Transformation Inventory:

The Spiritual Transformation Inventory (STI) [was] developed to meet the need for a broad, multidimensional measure of Christian spirituality with national norms targeted specifically for churches, mental health agencies, and faith-based universities and nonprofits. The STI is based on a broad relational spirituality theory relevant to a wide range of Christian denominations and over a decade of work on conceptualizing and measuring spirituality, including two longitudinal multi-site grant funded studies on spiritual development. Several Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) schools, seminaries, and treatment centers have already standardized on the STI for program and individual assessment.*
My first reaction was that this was way too complex, but then I realized I’d missed the point. These 23 measures may not all be relevant, but by collecting all the data the Inventory can help establish which of the various measures are strongly correlated with sustainable spiritual growth and maturity (vs. those which are not). From there, hopefully we can identify the transferable practices that reproduce the appropriate behaviors.

To be sure, that sort of research is hard, and they may not succeed. But — assuming the spiritual and material worlds are governed by similar laws – there’s no reason this shouldn’t produce *some* useful knowledge, even if just a rough first cut. I wish them the best.

[Read More] for the 23 metrics and six domains used.

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Transformational Power, Valley-style

The most powerful weapon in the universe is transformational love

The most powerful act in the universe is creating happiness

Humble power — meekness — does not corrupt; it redeems.

Pastoral capitalism builds business via a yin/yang process of:

* Discipling Reality : Engineering/Operations
* Nurturing Community: Marketing/Sales
* Rewarding Character: Management/Human Resources
* Enforcing Humility: Board/Executives

[Read more] for the backstory of how all these fit together.

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Transformationally Born Again

To be transformationally Born Again
is to exchange the character, beliefs, and perceptions
we acquired from our family, culture & choices
for the Image of Christ
through experiencing
the nature of God the Father
and nurture of God the Spirit

[Read More] for the backstory

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