- Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Alone or in a low accountability setting, such as a congregation or typical small group, people rarely push through the pain associated with growth. That is why churches are filled with Bible-smart people who never have experienced abundant fruit bearing that's characteristic of maturity. Great preaching minus a Travel Team yields biblical experts who are prone to spiritual pride, Pharisaical and been-there-heard-that attitudes, lacking genuine depth and humility that are indicative of spiritual intelligence.
Directions pertain to biblical truths, as well as content that is complementary to them. I have met many pastors who choose a verse-by-verse expositional style and are very condemning of those who do not. They believe their analysis of a particular passage or doctrine is superior to another's, creating an atmosphere of criticism and contention among preachers, churches and doctrinal camps.
What did Jesus do? He did not simply expose the ancient scriptures, line-by-line, word-by-word. He sometimes tapped content from the prophets, sometimes created new stories for illustration and deeper meaning and frequently pulled from events of the day. "Ah, but we're not Jesus. We don't create truth by merely speaking." True, yet we do add to truth when we expose and re-present it in our sermons and books. We provide our take on the original meaning. In doing so, we change it, whether we want to or not.
Jesus provided directions for his Travel Team. Without good content, a group is little more than a social club or fraternal organization. Certainly the Bible should be a strong presence in a Travel Team, but God also cna speak through events, music, art, conversations and circumstances. The Bible reflects all of these so that when we believe the Bible is the only way the Holy Spirit speaks truth to people, we are liable to miss many messages God has for us.
The goal is to synthesize truth into our lives, not segregate it to a classroom, intellectual discussion or rely on lecture (i.e. typical sermons). Rather, Jesus interacted with his Travel Team about what He taught. The team wrestled with it. He often followed up with more teaching based on the members questions. He frequently taught with questions versus answers. Study the questions Jesus asked and you can see how this method alone engages people more deeply in learning than info dumping, which tends to be very Western and passive.
Experiencing the journey is a third SI method. It has to do with getting out of the classroom, lecture hall and living room for preaching and Bible studies. Watch how Jesus worked. He was on the go, not stationary. While a majority of His time involved interacting with His Travel Team, He also used big events as a means to teach them, with opportunities to learn by doing. Whether it was feeding the 5,000, crossing the troubled lake, raising a dead man or any number of other events, Jesus' Travel Team got to experience God at work in their lives and others'. Experiential learning is a powerful method because it works on the heart more than the intellect.
Consider the difference in looking at a friend's pictures of his or her recent vacation and personally walking the streets of Paris with your family. How does watching a missionary's slides compare with taking a trip to Nigeria to hold an Aids baby? People get excited by what they experience. Classroom, sanctuary and living room conditions for spiritual growth do not possess the ability to replicate the impact of a multi-sensory experience. Travel Teams camping, feeding the poor and doing short-term missions trips together not only bond more deeply, but they learn to read and feed each other spiritually.
The weak link of most serving experiences is that we do them with people with whom we've not established a covenantal relationship for spiritual growth. Community service junkies don't acquire SI because they lack a Travel Team for knowing and being known and unpacking the shared memories together.
The fourth method Jesus employed was Path Finding. He served as the Path Finder for His Travel Team and then -- at the end of three years -- charged them to do the same. A Path Finder is part mentor, teacher and guide, but different from each. The typical sequence is: Find a Path Finder, become someone else's Path Finder while you have your own then serve as a Path Finder to keep growing spiritually. You don't have to be gifted at leading, teaching or organization to Path Find for others, but you do need to facilitate life and spiritual discussions with a Travel Team that is doing life together around scriptures, experiences and a commitment to each other.
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