Last week, I wrote a post entitled “Bible College or Church?” that sparked some great discussion about how the church trains and equips her leaders. This week, I’m expanding on some of the ideas generated in the discussion.
Yesterday I looked at some of the pros and cons of Bible college. One of the pros is the Bible education. Some of the cons–it costs a lot of money to get that education, and the environment where the education is received is more of a “Christian bubble” than the real world. Is there any way we can equip leaders–heck, all Christians–with a working, practical knowledge of the Bible that won’t cost them a financial arm and a leg?
The short answer: YES.
The long answer: Yes, but some creativity and innovation are needed to do so. And that creativity is beginning to happen. Here are some things I’ve been thinking about that we can do to start making some changes.
First, individual learning is important… learning in community is vital. Someone commented last week that they learned more in the midnight coffee chugging sessions just shooting the breeze than they did in their classes. There’s something to that. Think about the first Christians–most were illiterate. The New Testament wasn’t even in print yet. How did they learn about Jesus? In community. Today, we have multiple copies of the Bible and tons of resources for individual Bible study… yet many Christians don’t do it. I have found that people take it much more seriously and grow better in the midst of community–be it a microchurch, a small group, a smaller group (2-3 people), than they do in a larger setting (like a Sunday service) where someone talks at them for 20-60+ minutes a week. In the small and smaller group setting, guys who are gifted teachers can still use their gift, but others are allowed to interact, ask questions, and encourage each other as the Scriptures are unpacked. That cannot happen in a typical church on a typical Sunday morning. You guys who are preachers may not like that too much–I’m just speaking from my own experience (don’t forget–I am a preacher!). With the innovations in technology–Twitter, Facebook, etc.–it is now easier for people to network on discussion boards around topics and learn from each other than ever before. The original blog post that sparked this discussion shows how this works. We need to be more intentional about learning and applying Scripture in community.
Second, we need creative, innovative, hubs of resources that are easily accessible with high quality content that won’t break people’s pocketbooks. There are several of these online hubs already in existence:
- The Resurgence is the brainchild of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. It contains a massive amount of video and print content from the Neo-Reformed perspective. There are videos and blogs from multiple contributors on a wide variety of topics.
- Shapevine is another online community with tools and resources–including online video courses on several different topics that are reasonably priced. It is “missional” focused. Again, there are multiple blogs from multiple contributors. I have participated in a live video workshop, where several leaders of a church in San Diego were interviewed, and viewers could submit questions that were answered on the fly. Shapevine is still evolving, but it is already a great tool.
I think it is possible–and even necessary–for things like this to be created and even network together. Imagine what could be done if there was a site where anyone could log on and get good, solid information and teaching–theology, church planting, community outreach–the possibilities are limitless. And they could access the content for free, or even a tiny fraction of the cost of going to Bible college for four years (heck, there could even be links to Bible colleges with distance/online learning degrees if that was the route one chose to take–check out this post by my buddy Richard on what one college is doing with iPhone technology). I don’t know exactly what it would look like or how it would function, but it could produce a lot of fruit and help guys get good and grounded in practical, applicable Bible knowledge.
These are just a few ideas. Tomorrow I’ll talk about something that’s bugged me for years about the current system.
In the meantime, throw out some additional ideas for what this could look like…