Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How Goes the Pathway? Part II

In part one, I left off with phase one of the pathway, so on to phase 2.

Phase 2 – Message – “What is my ­new about Jesus and what am I supposed to do about it?”

As I mentioned in phase 1, each phase is designed to offer a choice of: a Bible study, a small group experience or an immersion event. This phase also has two out of the three up and running and again we have an offering that has been part of the church for a long time and something new. Also, as in phase one, one is something written and published by us and one that we purchase commercially.

Our small group experience for this phase is Disciple Bible Study. We use the first unit, “Becoming Disciples through Bible Study.” We have refocused this a little bit to make it part of the pathway. In the past at University, Disciple has been offered in a number of ways, some of which did not match the intention of the program. Disciple is, by design, a small group (12-15 max), discussion-based experience. University had, at times, dealt with its large number by allowing it to be a larger group and accommodated that by allowing it to become more lecture based and less discussion based. To make it appropriate for the pathway and to make it more effective overall, we have committed to only offer it as designed: small group and discussion based. The biggest challenge that we face with Disciple is scheduling. The course takes about 9 months. The only way we have figured out to make that happen is to have it start in the fall. That works out great, except for people who finish the first phase of the pathway in the late fall through summer and want to take Disciple. They have an awfully long time to wait. We also face a challenge of scale. Because we will not allow classes to grow over 15, we need to be continually recruiting new facilitators.

All of this was kept in mind as I wrote and developed our Bible study option for the phase. Because this phase is all about message and the message comes to us from scripture, all the offering in this phase are actually about Bible study. The key difference then is the size of the group. New Testament Survey: The Message of Jesus was designed to be taught in any group size. We are four weeks in to our first run and we have about 40 people. This is a ten-week class that was created from scratch and is intended to give students a “big picture” overview of the New Testament while helping them to better understand the message of Jesus. It also tries to give students some good Bible study skills to help them in the future. Classes are 1.5 hours and pretty evenly split into lecture and table discussion. Although it is not designed as a small group experience, participants do get a lot of opportunity to interact with others.

The immersion event offering for this stage is still a work in progress. I am almost ready to put in on the calendar but I am still working on the name. This is the biggest challenge for me because I believe that a real requirement of this stage is a fair amount of scripture reading. An immersion event over a couple of days or a weekend does not really provide an opportunity for that. I think what are going to end up with is an immersion event that actually requires a little upfront work. This is not totally unheard of but might be a challenging sell.

I will post soon on phase three which has the distinct honor of being complete.



p.s. It is hard for me to believe this is post 100 for my "new" blog." I waver back and forth from thinking "I feel like I just started at University yesterday," to thinking, "I feel like I have been here 5 years."
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