Over the last 10 days since I starts "The New 95 Theses" project, I have found that many of us have a strong tendency to jump to solution. I would like to say that I seriously doubt that any of us really have the solution. The reason I make this claim is because the nature of the problems I have outlined are problems of practice, and, therefore, the solution can only be seen as proven through implementation. In this case the proof is in the doing. Secondly, the problems I have outlined are community-wide problems. Therefore, the implementation of the solution is an implementation of leading a community into a new story of purity and moral beauty. So, needless to say, we are all traveling down this road together.
You Don't Learn Gymnastics that Way
If our problem was one of widespread misunderstandings of the creedal tenents of the trinity, then the solution might be mapped out and proven through the proofs of axioms and ideas, but the problems I have intentionally defined are purely in the realm of practices and behaviors. These problems of materialism, sexual sin, and marriage and divorce (just to name a few) are life skills. Such wisdom and solutions are only vindicated by their children. Here is a principle that is essential to approaching the problem correctly.
The practice of Christianity is learned more like gymnastics than geometry.
Most current approaches to teaching Christianity focus primarily on the disseminating of ideas or the publishing of concepts. Having the concept right is very important in spiritual growth, but it is not the missing link in the chain which will lead us to the effective learning of Christian practice. You see you don't learn gymnastics that way.
The True Love waits campaign is a perfect example. The assumption of the campaign is that if kids learn the standard of God's Word, understand the benefits of living according to God's Word, and then present themselves to obey God's word through faith in the Gospel, then more kids will actually prctice God's Word. BUT the fact is the methodology of the True Love Waits Campaign competely failed to generate purity. The entire campaign shows no statistical benefit. A pastor or leader seeking to find an answer to the problems of Christian practice must take responsibility for the actual outcomes of his or her efforts. In light of such facts, the anyone seeking to become a "wise master builder" must humbly re-evaluate the entire process. The conclusion must be that the design of a new discipleship process is necessary!!!
Why does knowledge of the truth and commitment to the truth not necessarily lead to actual practice? The answer is because you don't learn gymnastics that way!! If you don't learn gymnastics that way, then why would you expect to learn any other skill that way?
Could you imagine a coach teaching young gymnasts by saying, "Ok ,this is a video of a double back flip. This double back flip is a beautiful act of athletic prowess. Now raise your hand if you are committed to doing a double back flip."
All the hands raise, and then the coach just says, "Great. We have a meet tomorrow, and I expect you all to attempt double back flips".
"But I don't know how to do a double back flip. I don't even know how to do a single back flip or even a cartwheel for that matter. "
Taking such an approach to learning how to live in purity is no less foolish. This basic truth about learning true wisdom and Godliness leads us to our next thesis:
Thesis #4: The current culture of the church approaches discipleship from a generally academic perspective. The church does not possess a viable approach to discipleship which is effective in transforming the practices of the church.
The approach to discipleship which views the learning of the Christian life in the same way as learning history or mathematics is doomed to be forever ineffective because life skills are not learned in the realm of the mind alone. Instead, Christian practices are learned through a method which must include teaching and practicing new skills in the context of a coach who is an expert at the skill the student is attempting to learn. Such a method must look at the actual methods Jesus, the master disciple maker, used to transform His original disciples from conversion to trustworthy leadership.