In Which We Withdraw From The World To Draw Near To God
The modern world considers solitary confinement and enforced silence as among the worst long-term punishments — with good reason; it is a terrifying thing to be cut off from the consolations and diversions of society. And yet, the very severity of that terror hints at the fertile spiritual soil to be uncovered when we deliberately cultivate time away from the distractions of ordinary human life…
Memory Verse: “Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.’ “ — Luke 4:42-43 (NKJV)
boIn Which Diligently Searching God’s Word Leads Us to Truth
Few disciplines are as essential — or as dangerous! — as studying the words and works of God. Used in the wrong spirit, theology can become a heavy burden or a useless distraction (cf. Matthew 23:4). But when taught by the Holy Spirit, God’s word becomes the very source of life itself (cf. Luke 4:4). The challenge to us, as to Timothy, is whether we will apply God’s word rightly…
Memory Verse: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” — 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
[NOTE: the official syllabus is now on the “Lead” page; this post is obsolete, but kept for the sake of historical continuity].
[Yes, I should probably have written this before the first lesson, but better late than never…]
In thinking about it, I ought to take my Curriculum one step further, and actually identify the passages and key learnings for each lesson. Not only will this help ensure I’m on the same page as my pastor, but it would enable others to write some of the lessons (since class starts on September 4th!).
I’ve also cross-referenced these lessons against two common systematic theology books:
In addition to providing a sort index to the topics covered, this allows students and teachers to use those as supplementary textbooks.
- Draft 1 – Sunday, 24th August
- Draft 2 – Tuesday, 26th August: Added “Doctrine” “Essentials” chapters for each lesson
- Draft 3 – Friday, 29th August: Added “Doctrines” chapters for each lesson
So, the good news is that our church is gearing up to start LEAD! on September 4th, and already taking applications! That’s also the bad news, since I’ve only finished three classes. 😦
Still, it only takes me about four hours per class, which is two late night waiting-to-feed-Rohan sessions (assuming he behaves), so I should be able to keep up.
The real problem is that my lesson topics have gone in a completely different direction that originally envisioned. More, my pastor has a slightly different vision for how things should fit together. Given the time timeframes, it is essential we get on the same page (and stick to it, if possible).
Here’s my current vision for what is now being called “Theological Foundations”. Hopefully my pastor and I can converge on this syllabus soon (once he’s no longer busy with his new grandson 🙂
[Updated and ratified 8/19 with John Isaacs]
[Based on feedback, this study will actually become the first lesson, prior to God’s Commission]
In Which We Discover How God Speaks to Us, and Why We Ought to Listen to Him
[Updated Sunday, August 3rd]
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.
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…