I wrote about the change to the Meeting Phase immersion event in a previous post: "What Happened to Jesus for Seekers and Skeptics?" Let's continue across the page and talk about what happened to the other two.
The original plan for the immersion event in the Message Phase was a retreat called Invitation to the Bible. I was always a little bit unclear about how to make an immersion event work in the Message Phase. Remember, The Message Phase is designed to connect people to the news about Jesus as contained in Scripture. I never really figured out how one could do that in a couple of days, even if they were intensive. Obviously, either could anyone else. I designed a retreat and no one signed up. It turns out that people who have completed the Meeting Phase were not really concerned about commitment. Most were willing to sign up for the ten week New Testament Survey or the 34 week Disciple Bible Study. However, some did have scheduling issues that made it difficult to commit to something one specific night for more than a few weeks. So I thought what if I could give someone a tour through the entire canon of scripture, in a period of time shorter than Disciple and make is so they only had to show up at the church one time - meaning they could schedule their participation around work, travel and family? From that question, The Forum was born. You can read more about it in a previous post: The Forum.
Since that post, we have completed our first successful pilot offering. We launch our next offering in January. We will be making one change. In addition to the reading and online conversation, we will adding short videos offering participants a little background on the reading and the theological issues at play.
Moving one more section to the right, we get to the Mission Phase. That label covers Coach's Directed Study. I realized that this option never had it's own post, so here is a description:
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.
The Coach's Directed Study was one part of the pathway that did not fail but got cut anyway. It was replaced because it was simultaneously too successful and not successful enough. It was too successful in that, as the number of participants increased, scheduling became a huge problem. Something like this would be easier to pull off in a University setting in that students there have a lot more flexibility. But when you try to schedule one-one-ones around people's work and family schedules and the tight schedules of the pastors at a church this size, it is incredibly difficult. It was not successful enough in that we still had a number of people stuck between message and mission feeling like there was not a viable alternative. Perhaps they didn't feel called to leadership and want to participate in Pastor's Academy. Maybe they had already been on a Walk to Emmaus or just didn't feel it was a fit. The designed alternative was the Coach's Study but that design had a fatal flaw. Some people did not yet feel called to a specific direction in mission to follow. Others did but did not feel ready to discuss that one-on-one with a pastor. Some people articulated this well as there being "too big of a leap" between the Message Phase and the Mission Phase.
Here is what we are trying in it's place: Hearing God's Call: Discovering Gifts for Ministry. So you don't have to read the little label, here is the description:
A six week course designed to help you discover your God-given gifts for ministry and find ways to put them to work in the life of the church and beyond.
This course will begin in 2011 and will be co-led by me and my Assistant Director Jessica Caccamese. We will be using spiritual gifts inventories, teaching about the theology of gifts and calling and introducing people to areas where they can serve. We are hoping that this will feel like a more appropriate leap from the Message Phase for some. We will let you know more as we continue to develop it.
Time to get on with the reprint. We will save some stickers. Things are bound to change again.