learning that makes for practice

Ryan and Eddie’s class started last night, MC535 “Emerging Churches,” of which I will assist in the grading and ideas-sharing of the course. Its fun to be in class while standing on the other side of the desk so to speak. Stitting there last night, instead of frantically trying to take notes on everything said, I focused into what was happening in the classroom. I watched how the class was being taught, how things were being presented, questions that were being asked, and watched the learning that was taking place.

The class is built around their book that just came out, and deals with not only what an emerging church is and how it works, but also the criteria to evaluate churches that are “emerging.” This is also what the students will be doing, in their research, reading and also as they visit local churches and conduct an evaluation and prescription for that church. This of course is bound to be a hot button with many people in the church, as the final project is for the students to go to and evaluate whether a church that claims to be in this category really is at all. Then the students will make some prescriptions for those churches which address what sort of changes they may need to go through if they hope to be this kind of community.

What I like about this assignment is that it is inherently provocative, and asks students to hold churches accountable to their practices and claims of which they’ve made. This should not be seen or used in a malicious way. But as my posts on church practices as of late concerning the basketball situation infers, not all church groups are doing what they say, and saying what they are doing. Further the churches that will be examined in a sense get a consultation, and if they are open missional communities they will appreciate any critique and suggestion that comes their way, assuming it comes within the love and truthfulness of Christ. In other words the students in this class are given a task and will become practitioners in that area. This is one way of teaching that Ryan has been good at, and something I am trying to pick up via osmosis, everything that is taught should be taught in such a way that students can actually do something with their learning, transform some part of the church, their community or the world.

What I would hope comes out of this course, is the ability to creatively think of ways to follow Christ and be the church. Its easy to not even be aware of the sacred cows that we protect, this is the kind of class that could slaughters cows and could drastically change the way we view and communicate the Gospel. And of course I think this is a good thing. But in changing views and ways of communicating we must continue to grow and be more faithful in the way we live out the Gospel. This is something that has become a core value for the emerging church – living out the way of Christ which is much more important than any altar call or evangelistic sermon that can be preached because changed lives transform people and communities much better than empty words.

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Wess

…is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a “released minister” at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.