This road has come to an end. This Saturday I graduate. I’ve been working the past 4 years on a MA in Discipling Ministries from Huntington University. It's been a long road (thank you Trina for being patient and editing practically all of my papers). This particular program and grad school have been exceptionally helpful over the years. The friends and experiences have been priceless. I actually found out about this program while at a Youth Specialties conference (exhibit halls). I thought it was really unique in its focus. It caught my attention.
As I prepare to graduate here are some things I’ve come to learn while in this program:
- How to teach in a way that engages the student and challenges the learner. Before beginning this journey I looked at teaching as dumping as much information as possible on someone (maybe they would get something?). This is primarily what our public schools do and it works to a certain degree. However, it leaves a lot of people out and misses true potential in a lot of individuals. Think about Jesus. He taught in a way that challenged and engaged His listeners. He let them practice what He was teaching and see if it was actually true (that’s a great idea!). He didn’t stand idly by when His students were spewing wrong thoughts or doing wrong things but found opportunity to teach them about God and man. I could easily go off on a 20-page tangent here, I won’t.
- Discovering the “big idea” of a passage of scripture can help you teach it better. What is the “big idea”? It’s the particular truth of a particular book, passage, and/or verse of God’s Word that the Spirit give you that makes you think, “This is what God is trying to teach here! This is what this passage is all about!” Once you find the “big idea” your job is to create a learning experience that leads your students to discovering “it” for themselves. A very engaging way of teaching (even preaching). The downside? It takes a lot of study time and prayer time to discover “big idea”, but it is well worth it in the end. I consider this a downside in part because of all the demands on pastors that don’t allow them time to really study and pray over a passage.
- People learn differently. There are different ways to teach that if used properly can reach more people. Some people benefit most from just reading something, others hearing it sung, still others by drawing a picture of it, and some by being challenged to teach it themselves.
- Spiritual formation and the discipleship process involve God the Spirit, us, others, and work. God’s Spirit is there ready to work a change in us, but there has to be intention on our part. We have to do something. I'm not saying we are saved by our works, that's by grace through faith. I'm talking about what happens afterwards. We get the privilege of working with God in shaping and molding our character. How exciting is that? It also takes community. We join a community when we become Christian. We become a part of the Body of Christ known as the church. Each part has a role and function. Have you found yours?
Well, I stop here for now. There’s more I learned, but I’m still processing it.