Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Training as Christians in Ordinary Life

by Laura Springer, M.Div., Th.M.

In vocational training, the most effective programs use the movements and activities of the intended vocation. This is why apprenticeship and internship remain required elements in courses of study like psychology and business. I am beginning to realize that Christian training has much in common with vocational training.

What does this mean for the educational practices of the gathered Body?

Some insight can be gained from the educational notion of praxis. In praxis, practice and theory are interwoven, each intentionally informing the other. Practice expresses underlying theory and we use known theory to reflect on these underlying theories in order to correct and improve both the theories and the practices based upon them.

When properly administered, apprenticeship and internship programs are applications of praxis, guiding the learner in intentional reflection on both theory and practice. Two related goals are in mind: proper theory and proper practice. Both are necessary.

In many discipleship programs, the notion of praxis is nowhere to be found–unless our intended vocation is small group participant or some such. On the other hand, if our intended vocation is a life well-lived, expressing our passions and cultural language and moving toward the twin goals of Christlikeness and proper image-bearing, then most of our discipleship programs need to be scrapped and regrown from the ground up. And the ground from which they must be regrown is not the classroom; it is the dining room, the morning commute, our daily chores, and the work day.

Now, I am a fan of the classroom and small group Bible study and I think they have an important place in our practice. I’ve neither desire nor inclination to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. But let us keep one thing clear in our minds: classroom instruction and group Bible study are not Christian training. The car ride home probably is.

What might this look like in a real life gathering of Christians?