How do we learn about learning? What makes us a better teaching church or better discipling leaders? Is growing disciples at the heart of being the church?
How do you represent the dynamics of growing disciples? I’m working on tools based on my PhD research to use in workshops. I find models to be of limited value, because they take something that worked and suggest that you can replicate it in any context. They offer a mental schema. They are also based on assumptions that parts of the world are fixed. However the process of understanding how things developed is much more interesting, because it tells you about initiative, creativity, contextualisation, experimentation, failure, collaboration and more. I’m OK with frameworks or approaches because they suggest ways to look at a something and ways to work on developing things. In my case, the research is an invitation to ask how certain aspects of congregational life might be related and to work out your own way forward as a church. It is an invitation to engage in reflective practice – to learn from the stories of ourselves and others.
This is a work-in-progress resource for discussion based on my research. It’s not a model, rather a prompt for reflection – a simple overview diagram which names the four areas of discussion in my research.
A key theme in growing missional disciples is intentionality – purposefully (re)forming how we grow people in faith and discipleship in different contexts and times.
The four circles are about learning and are inter-related. Theses are themes of enquiry from my research.
Learning Community – fostering the relational climate that supports learning
Learning Practices – fostering the habits or practices of discipleship
Learning Leaders – leading a learning community and learning as leaders
Learning Mission – learning for, in and from mission as a congregation and as leaders
My research identifies some aspects of each of these and explores how they might be inter-related, and also how these embody the mission of Christ. The characteristics aren’t universal. Each was observed across some or many of my small sample of 13 churches. Hence it’s not a model. The research is an invitation to reflect on your own learnings and maybe to ask some different questions about the energy and focus of congregational life. Let’s talk intentionality with regard to growing disciples.
More to come.