This is a post I sat on for a while but after seeing that the guys over at the well are doing a series on Discipleship it prompted me to get going and actually publish it, it’s basically a ramble and wonder about discipleship courses.
My wonderful girlfriend completed a discipleship course this summer and partially due to my interested in Discipleship and my interest in Education I was of course interested in what the make up of the course was and how it helped to disciple people. Before I go on let me ask you two questions. Spend some time thinking about them (perhaps wonder away from the computer) and then continue reading.
What do you think of as a “discipleship course.” and What do you think a discipleship course should look like?
Here are some background links that might help you with what I think Discipleship is, the stages of Discipleship and you are disciplining people, now stop complaining.
The discipleship course
This is structure of her discipleship course (please forgive me if I get the details wrong I may over exaggerate but I think this is accurate)
- Meet up with pastor,
- Read the bible following a course outline.
- Discuss the meaning and importance of this part of the bible and it’s application.
- Set more summarising of the bible as homework.
- At the end of the course the bible summaries are collected and a test is issued on what has been studied.
Now, I don’t know about you but this doesn’t really seem like discipleship to me. It seems like a good knowledge test but discipleship isn’t about knowledge, it’s about relationship, transformation and perhaps most importantly head knowledge doesn’t always transform into action. Many Atheists can recite passages from the bible (usually the “uncomfortable” ones that are almost always out of context) but it’s rare to think that they have been discipled by doing that (of course, God works in mysterious ways and may well transform people via their own attempts to disprove things).
Maybe this course came out of an intellectual culture or from an Intellectual group and it reflects their own beliefs and how they grow. What’s more, I should also add that bible study and meeting up regularly with a fellow and more experienced Christian are great and certainly can help for discipleship. The thing that bothers me the most is the way it’s checked with a test.
A test will show if you know the right words but people can pass test and still be rubbish at something (language learning and students who can answer loads of grammar questions but can say a single word comes to mind. Even where there are spoken test some students can just learn set dialogues to speak…that’s certainly what I did at school) what’s more discipleship doesn’t just end there, it’s constantly on going and a never ending process. Having a final assessment kind of seems to say
“Okay, you’ve obtained discipleship level 1 (your red belt in discipleship) now complete the next test to become a… etc”
A different idea?
Here is my alternative idea, it’s by no means perfect and I don’t pretend it is, but what do you make of this as an idea for a course.
- Focus on actions and words
- Do things together
- Equip people to make disciples
- A different kind of test.
What if the test wasn’t a written paper but instead what happens once disciples are released out on mission? What if the final section was a reminder that the real assessment isn’t a written paper. That now the course is over the real course and test begins. That really is the greatest test, life. Here are a couple of groups doing things that sound interesting to me for discipleship courses. The vision course part of 24/7 prayer Multiply (connected with Francis Chan)
A personal confession
I actually did one of these courses assessed with a test and found it very useful and beneficial so they definitely aren’t useless.
What are your thoughts?
Have you done a discipleship course?
What did you think?
Do you know any other good courses?