Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Goes the Pathway? Part III

In part two, I left off with phase two of the pathway, so on to phase three.

Phase 3 –Mission – “What is my call from Jesus and what am I supposed to do about it?”

Again, remember that each phase offers a Bible study, a small group experience and an immersion event. We have a mix here as well as two of the offerings were created here at University and one of them was created by someone else. Also, like the other two phases, two of them are new and one has been a part of University for some time. Because all of these are dynamic and complex offerings, I will only offer a glimpse of them in this post.

Our Bible study option for this phase is something the Vision and Values Team created and our Coaching Team implemented. It is called Coaches Directed Study. I think this is one of the most exciting pieces of our pathway. This option offers participants an opportunity to explore their calling in the context of a one-on-one Bible study with one of our coaching pastors. Depending on the area of desired exploration the participant is paired with Rev. Adam Knight, our Outreach Pastor; Rev. Leslie Tomlinson, our Shepherding Pastor; or with me, our Discipleship Pastor. The coaching pastor assigns a series of scripture readings and some additional reading. The participant and the coach then meet and study together and decide on some final project that will reflect their work together. This is just a thumbnail sketch of how this all works, but we have had a lot of success with our first participants and we believe this will be a really important part of the pathway.

Our small group option for this phase was written by and will be led by our Directing Pastor, Rev. Charles Anderson. It is called The Pastor’s Academy and it is a small group course in Christian leadership. It is not designed solely for people who feel called to elected leadership in the church but for anyone who feels they may be called to be in a formal or informal leadership role in God’s church. The course will focus on attributes and practices of Godly leaders. This is a new course and will launch this fall.

Our immersion event offering for this phase has been a part of the culture of University for some time. The Walk to Emmaus is a little different than the rest because not only is this not something we wrote, it is also not something we run. The Walk to Emmaus is its own ecumenical organization and while many of our people are involved in it, it does not belong to us. To use their own words, “The Walk to Emmaus is a spiritual renewal program intended to strengthen the local church through the development of Christian disciples and leaders.” We have been sending people on walks for years but with the rollout of the pathway, we are doing things a little different. First, we are encouraging people to go on a walk after they have completed the other phases of the map. Second, we are encouraging people to come and meet with a coaching pastor after their walk to talk about how they are feeling led to respond to the experience.

All of the options in this last phase are designed to help people take a next step. We are hoping that people will be able to clarify where they might go next, whether that is further study and development, opportunities to serve, or a move into leadership. I get a lot of questions about what is next. The truth is that we really hope that through the pathway, we will give people the basic tools that they need to figure that out for themselves. If not, we hope that it will give people enough that they will be able to ask better questions about what is next. Our support for people in their journey of discipleship does not end, but the programmatic element does. This is a good thing. The trouble with programs is that they can leave people just waiting for the next part of the program. God has much more in store for us. God is calling us as individuals to respond to the abundant grace God offers and everyone’s response is different.

That’s where we are so far. Your thoughts questions and insights are always welcome.


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