Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Goes the Pathway?

In the first month of 2009, I am working on our annual review/previews with my staff. These are University’s way of checking in on how we felt we did in the previous year and making plans for the coming year. I thought this might be a good time to reflect, in this space, on how our overall systematic approach to making disciples is working.

I may return to this stream to present some numeric and narrative results. We are starting to get far enough in to see how the system is actually impacting lives and that is what it is all about. But, for now, I am going to focus on how things are working from a practical perspective. In other words, what parts of the program are running and seem to be working and what parts need some additional work?

Let’s break it down by phases in the system. I will cover Phase 1 today and post on the other phases at another time.

Phase 1 – Meeting – “What is my ­need for Jesus and what am I supposed to do about it?”

Each phase is designed to offer a choice of: a Bible study, a small group experience or an immersion event. The good news is two out of three are operational. Our small group experience, Alpha, has been a successful ministry for some time here at University. So really, that part was done and continues to run well. Because of the emphasis on the system and the expectation of a high number of people running through the system we will offer a slightly different version of Alpha in the spring that we are calling Alpha: Pop Culture. It is the same basic material, but framed through common questions asked about Christianity. Regular Alpha (or, we say, Alpha Classic) will continue to run in the fall. This allows us to keep the material fresh and keep our table leaders interested. Alpha is not a course we created. It is offered through AlphaUSA and taught all around the world.

A course that was created at University is our Bible study offering for the phase, Jesus 101. Rev. Adam Knight created and leads the course which introduces people to Jesus Christ through a six-week study of John’s Gospel. I am excited that, last night, this course began its second run with another decent-sized class. It is a lecture and discussion class and the feedback from the first run was excellent.

The last part of this phase to be rolled out will be the immersion event. It is called Jesus for Seekers and Skeptics and it will be first offered June 26th and 27th. This is a two-day experience designed particularly for those who still have questions about the meaning and relevance of Jesus. It is not designed to force people into a relationship with God but to allow room for questions. I look forward to the pilot offering. I had really hoped to have this up and running as the system was rolled out, but it takes an incredible amount of work to put these together and just keeping University moving day-to-day tends to tax even the coaching pastors to their limits.

I will post soon on phases 2 and 3. These are exciting as, the system is working and people are rolling into the later phases.


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