I was sitting in my office dinking around with how church is done at my church and this is what happened. This is a draft and by no means a finished product, so feedback is welcome - needed.
Proposal For Spiritual Formation Structure To Replace Education Structure
The SWCC currently uses an education-based model for spiritual formation. Although the classes offered are generally fair to good in quality, they are almost exclusively knowledge-based classes which do not move class attenders to action. In short, the program functions to allow for knowledge accumulation, but little else. The message this sends (and reinforces from our heritage and tradition) is that all we need is to know what is right, or to be â€śright with Godâ€ť in our doctrinal understandings. The fatal flaw of this model is that it creates hearers of the Word, but makes no special provision for create doers of the Word.
This is a proposal for the replacement of an education-based spiritual formation program to an equipping-based spiritual formation program. What this plan would do is move people to action in ministry in tangible and meaningful ways. Bible learning would not be reduced to knowledge accumulation, but rather would move right into service and ministry, the very thing most people want to do anyway.
Below is a chart differentiating the two models:
Education-based model Versus Equipping-based model
Knowledge for knowledge sake V. Knowledge for ministry sake
End result: Being right V. End result: Being good
Self-service V. Serving others
Purpose: Knowledge accumulation V. Purpose: Service
Stays in the classroom V. Leaves the classroom
Consumer V. Producer
Passive V. Active
Audience V. Army
Comfort Zone V. Stretch
Knows what to do V. Does it
What this proposal would do would be to replace all Sunday morning classes with ministry-driven groups. What would happen on Sunday morning is that people would meet in a classroom for the purpose of learning how to do a ministry, plan on doing a ministry, and then doing a ministry. Each group would be lead or facilitated by a ministry leader. That person would equip, train, and lead this group in some kind of ministry.
The reason for Sunday morning is that people must be given a viable choice to minister, or they will not. Ministry cannot be an add-on or be put in a place of little prominence. Accumulating Bible knowledge can be done at other times and alone even. In fact, bringing Bible study into oneâ€™s own personal life can be much more powerful than only in corporate life.
Our people will become Biblical illiterates. The fear is that our people will become Biblical illiterates if we do not give them a steady diet of Bible, and that is true. However, what we are currently doing is giving them only a diet of knowledge. That is extremely unhealthy. Sunday morning sermons will remain Biblical. House Church and small groups would still use the Bible. And furthermore, the Bible will not be left out of these classes, rather, it will come to life as people actually do something intentional rather than intend to do something, but have to fit it in to something else.
Class attendance will diminish. This matters only if weâ€™re counting noses in order to consider ourselves a success. What would be more successful, fewer people doing more or more people doing less? And furthermore, I think when people get used to it, they will be more dedicated, more loyal and more excited than they are now.
New Christians will miss out on crucial knowledge. What they might miss out on in theory they will compensate for in practice. People learn by doing far better than they do by listening. They will learn the love of Christ by being embedded in a group of people loving God and people in the way of Jesus. Then, when they do read those passages about Christâ€™s love, they will not find them hollow or distant, but rather they will be in full color because their experience justifies their reading of scripture.
It might not be Biblical. What is not Biblical is learning, learning, learning, but not doing, doing, doing. How many scriptures in the Bible focus on Jesus studying the scripture versus the number of scriptures focusing on Jesus ministering to people? Jesus was either ministering to the lost, equipping his disciples, or alone in prayer. He did know the scriptures, but the only purpose to know them was to use them. Knowing isnâ€™t enough.
This is really different. Yes, it is. This is actually not a myth. It is a complete departure from church as usual. It is what is going to help keep Southwest relevant in a culture that is falling asleep in church if it even gets to church. Think of the news report on KAIT: Southwest Church Scraps Sunday School In Order To Serve People. We could go about loving people, no strings attached, in the way of Jesus.
Examples of types of equipping offerings:
-Music, praise team
-Learning how to teach children
-JH / HS
Service / Social Justice
-Feeding the hungry
-Shelter for the homeless
-Visit pediatric cancer unit