Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Phil. 4:9

Whatever you have learned or received from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.

I remember a conversation with a would-be housegroup leader many years ago. We were talking about their desire to start a new group and about how willing they were to take on the challenge of hosting and leading this new venture. They had great plans. They had a curriculum set out for the group to follow, and they had identified potential group members.

And then they used an interesting phrase. "When I do the teaching part of the meeting" was the phrase they used. Interesting I thought. This group, even before it began, had a clearly defined leader and clearly defined set of roles and people to fill those roles. The would-be group leader was setting themselves up as the authority who would keep the group on track and teach them what they needed to know.

I don't think they saw it this way and I'm certainly not suggesting that they had any desire to be seen as the source of all knowledge in the group. I suspect they were simply building on a model that they'd experienced themselves over many years of small groups in church. They were following the teach and learn part of Paul's injunction.

But what about the modelling part of what Paul has to say? We love to pass on our wisdom and knowledge, but how ready are we for others to follow our pattern? Do we have a pattern worth following! And what if we built our small groups around the principle of doing life together and learning from one another's examples?

I worry sometimes that we've turned following Jesus into an intellectual exercise that focusses on building up a great body of understanding that produces little life-change. Churches all over the country cry out for more teaching when what they actually need  are more opportunities to experience God's amazing grace and to share that grace with others.

Perhpas then we will have an example worth calling others to follow.

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