We have apparently failed to reach my objective in the first Bible Study Intensive. A great many wonderful things happened, as noted in the last blog, but not what I desired.
This was a firstfruits event which means I embraced the messiness of it, and planned to learn much from the process, so it is not shocking that I am where I am.
The first question on the table is “Why did I fail?” and the second question is “So what, going forward?” Do I lower the standard or increase the investment of effort and skill into reaching the objective?
MY objective (and I am quite clear that everyone in the room had their own, unique objective) was to start a seed group of people who would be using these principles on their own to study the Word on an ongoing basis.
My reason for thinking that I failed in the objective is the tyranny of the urgent.
I think most of the people who came, learned enough that they could do their own Bible study, on a new theme, using the tools. They would probably be a bit clumsy and slow, getting less ROI on their own than they did in the group, but broadly, they could.
I don’t think they will, because with one exception, they are all very busy leaders, who already have more on their plate than they have bandwidth to say grace over.
So while they have a skill, and are dripping with good intentions, I think the culture will beat me and they will postpone starting a new study one day at a time, until the skill becomes so dusty and rusty it is unusable without a refresher.
Cranking umpteen people a year through the same process, and dumping them into the same culture, will simply increase the level of latent guilt in the tribe over not using a good tool and not making the world a better place.
Changing the American culture so it is more mellow is not really an option.
But, I do have other options that are within reach. And I need to approach it from an external and an internal perspective.
Externally, I could target people who have time. So that would be people in prison, or those in elder care whose bodies are gimpy but whose brains and spirit are aching for something to do. Or I could look for a culture overseas where there is a slower pace and people have broad discretionary time – but still have a drive for excellence.
I could work the weather angle. What about a northern region where people are broadly indoors for many hours during the winter. Would Alaskans or Norwegians thrive on doing Bible studies and avoid the Seasonal Affect Disorder?
I wonder about Vets or stroke victims or other groups of people who are recovering from significant physical events and are in a long-term healing trajectory. Would this be a delightful occupation in between therapy sessions?
Clearly, there are options to find groups who already HAVE less time pressure.
The alternative is to challenge people to change inside.
I wonder about our Tribe and how many there are who would be willing to make a drastic lifestyle change in order to acquire wisdom from the Lord?
-Choose to miss out on a lot of the culture’s activities, so that they have a streamlined schedule allowing both time and emotional bandwidth for regular study.
-Choose to learn how to eat, sleep, rest and exercise so that their body is an asset to their intellectual and spiritual pursuits instead of a nuisance, dragging them down.
-Cut back drastically on the media engagement so that the brain can think proactively instead of simply responding to outside stimuli.
-Regularly do training to learn how to think in a productive problem solving way, rather than being easily stuck or overwhelmed by data.
If a small group of people would do THAT, then it would be easy for the skills they learn in an intensive to become a regular part of daily life.
BUT, this is not the culture of the Body of Christ these days. Back in the day, we called it discipleship and it was expected to include both intense learning and sacrificial lifestyle changes. But that is “so 1950s” today.
We ARE in the Mercy season. What does that mean? It certainly does not mean a lack of excellence in our spiritual walk or that wisdom is no longer a prized possession for Noble Subjects.
Where is the grace of God for growing people to the level that they are transformational in the culture instead of being transformed by the culture?
I haven’t figured that one out yet, but this is the bone I am gnawing on these days, whenever I have a bit of available bandwidth!
Copyright October 2018 by Arthur Burk
I am so there but lack the skills. I have discovered lots of insights i hear other preachers propose. And i SOOO LOVE BIBLE STUDY.My Spirit virtually jumped out of my body when i heard you propose the "Hand Of God" intensive but money to get to you for a week and a bit because that kind of travel really knocks me around. And I have been waiting impatiently for the feed back on how i went. Also the topic it self excited me, i have been playing around with noticing "hand, arm , fingers" of God for a few months now since I listened to some teaching by Bill Johnson. My bible reading has changed since I did the Bible study pod casts and of the three pod casts it was the only one i took notes on and presented to the little group that meets here on a Sunday. On another front we experimented with the Heart chambers and like WOW!!. More recently we played with what other levels of healing might be hidden in the heart. My idea was that the four chambers would line up with the windows of reconciliation, so I was guinea pig number 1 last Sunday AND they do!! we are doing the first chamber in everyones heart before going on the the others. And Community in so many flavours featured in my Father chamber, and then also in the Mercy's Father chamber. enough rambling from me.
Why not look people in 'the window to the soul' and ask if they desire--really desire--to develop such a skill?
Yes, Discipleship. In addition to the lay people being too busy, it seems that the leadership is also too busy to actually do discipleship either. I was born again in 1988 and I’ve never received any kind of discipleship/mentoring from anyone. Not even an offer. Despite my seeking out relationships with people for it. I think no one has ever seen any value in me. It’s kind of like the old belief that women didn’t need an education. If someone doesn’t see you as valuable to the Body of Christ, they won’t make any effort on you.
I committed a couple of years ago to write one book per year primarily because it gave me the focus to study one subject, one problem, one interest, and do it somewhat exhaustively. The need to weave study of the Bible into this process was obvious, but it didn't take long to realize that the Bible has a lot to day about every facet of life and it is buried in so many places and in so many unique ways that it utterly defied being approached as a reference source. So I have chosen to look at indiviual lives and how they chose (rightly or otherwise) to live their lives before the Lord and their contemporaries, and it has provided me with some significant insight into the motivations of my own heart (known or othrrwise) which have resulted in the decisions that I make and need to make. The discoveries continue.
Your external ideas are intriguing. Your internal idea stirs my fire. Without discipline, the cumulative effect of hours upon days and days upon years is Subtle Erosion. The subtle erosion of time becomes pervasive erosion of spirit and soul. Self-discipline must be cultivated, based on values, but Subtle Erosion skillfully shadows them. We make choices. We must honestly evaluate what we love. The battle of the subtle drip-drip-dripping is real. 16 +/- non-sleeping hours + God’s grace can make a maximized life. As I ran my large household the Lord showed me the concept using my resources to make disciples through His example of “12, and 3.” As a limited human with many disciples, Jesus narrowed focus on 12 and sub-setted 3. In such fashion, one person with human-limited resources can be effective. It was powerfully enlightening, but so was the reality of the diligent discipline required to BE His disciple! The subject elicits my passion. Hot fire in profound love. Your words resonate in me as one deeply, innately in love with the Word, and also focused on discipleship. And there are frustrations. In the Mercy season, a cue is in Rev 3: “Would that you were either cold or hot…so be zealous and repent…The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne…” (v 15, 19, 21). We’ve much to conquer, maybe mostly internal. If we conquer, we’ll rule with Him through intimacy, our true authority. So, I like your option to “challenge people to change inside.” In this dance of intimacy-cultivated discipline coupled with God’s grace, we would conquer the tyranny of the urgent, the onslaught of distraction, the dumbing-down of the culture, and the erosion of ourselves to study the Word in a manner worthy of our Beloved King. I’m up for that imposing challenge, ignited.
Sower went out to sow the seed...What was the percentage of the sown seed that grew to maturity?
Replied by : Arthur Burk
Some of the early stages of germination happen while not in sight. I wish to encourage you that the seed was planted. Might take a few more days for any sprouts to become visible. Viability is not guaranteed, but initial discussions are underway. Figuring out a model for long-distance resource sharing, etc. Film at eleven.
Ha! There are some of us out here - well, one at least - who do not fit into the culture at large! I am an INFJ personality who can't stand watching TV or gallivanting around town. I'm a stay at home mom who homeschools one kid. I love thinking through spiritual concepts, looking for new and better ways to be intimate with Father, prayer, journaling, and listening to you and other teachers farther along than me, and having deep conversations with the "stray cats" that seem to find me wherever I go. :) Seriously - what you are describing is what I LOVE to do already in most of my spare time, and I would LOVE to have a chance to be considered for something like what you described here. I'll probably never be the type of dynamic leader you described that was carefully chosen to participate from all the applicants. But I do look a lot like what you are thinking of recruiting right now. We are out here!
Replied by : Arthur Burk
I believe there are noble subjects willing to imbrace the life changes you describe. I am currently seeking to give myself more time with God -- i greatly desire to be transformational in the culture around me. What Bible study program do you recommend?
Replied by : Arthur Burk
My thought is that the dilemma of 'challenging people to change' vs 'training people who are available' comes down to a question of which fruit will be more eternal and more effective in the Kingdom? Training people who are available should accomplish your intention of distributing a tool set, but will the tool itself when put to regular use produce the type of fruit you are hoping for? My view is that the #1 objective of the body Christ should be making disciples, and whether that comes off as 1950'ish or not is irrelevant. I think sharing tools (that you've learned through your own discipleship process) should be secondary to making disciples who are capable of living holistically fruitful lives in the kingdom and will also be able to correctly use any tools that you might distribute to them as a part of the discipleship process. Jesus only took 12 disciples and was with them for 3 years. The work of getting into people's lives and challenging/inviting/loving them into change from the inside out is time consuming and "slow" work. Training them how to eat, sleep, study, disengage from culture, etc. is not nearly as reproducible as pumping people through weekend seminars and giving them a new tool set. You can train hundreds of people a year with a new tool, or focus on 12 people for 3 years and reproduce yourself in each of them over that period of time. If in 3 years there were 12 more Arthur Burkes on the earth, I think that would be far superior fruit to having 500 people using a new tool for effectively studying the scriptures. The 12 people would all certainly understand this particular tool and use it well, since it's a part of who you are, but they would have so much more than that and would then be able to go and reproduce themselves in others. The 500 people might or might not be able to train others how to use the tool even if they could use it themselves, and that fruit might eventually die out if the training wasn't reproduced enough times.
Replied by : Arthur Burk
How about retiree who are in their late 50s to mid 70s? Some of them actually live part time overseas in a wind-down mode too. Away from it all, searching to do self-improvements here & there, from food to health to beauty to historical & arts studies to spiritual pursue. I personally know quite a few people in this category, they are both busy with grand kids and/or taking classes after classes, trips after trips. Or those who don't live near their grand kids (or don't have them) just do the latter part. Except that these people (most of them are disciplined people) are usually so very capable & "knowledgeable" about everything, their appetites may get a bit picky... But our God can do the impossible.
Replied by : Arthur Burk
Arthur, Some emotive initial thoughts... I am reminded in your comments above about my time in undergrad/graduate school. Anecdote - my sophomore year we had a Physics professor who taught Electricity and Magnetism. He was notoriously difficult. The entire class failed the first test. I believe I scored the highest with a "43". When we got our results, he simply said he wanted us to understand the reality that we didn't know anything. I guess it was physics bootcamp of sorts - he broke us down and then built us up from the true bottom instead of the bottom we thought was the bottom. Half the class promptly re-evaluated their lives, dropped the class, and changed majors. In my small, private school, only a few (2-5) physics students graduated per year. BUT those of us who did graduate were more than adequately prepared for the rigors of graduate school. I went to UC Irvine for grad school - I was more prepared, in terms of study skills than anything else, than those in my grad school class who had gone to Ivy league schools. What you are describing feels to me like a graduate school type of experience, like Gideon's army in some measure. What if you created a certification process/training that had a certain amount of prereqs, a certain hours per week requirement, and a post graduation requirement (1 year internship with x hours of required availability)? You might only get a few people to sign up, but Oh those people! Jesus replicated 12...perhaps if you replicated yourself in 3 that would shake the nations! I love the idea of working with those with more discretionary time - the elderly in particular - who are so marginalized in so many ways in the church and culture. Regardless, I pray the blessing of the Lord on this venture, however it manifest itself.
Replied by : Arthur Burk
First of all, I have to say I LOVE the picture! Where do you get these?!? What an awesome depiction of a dynamic Bible study intensive. It really says way more than anyone would hope to know. And speaks of a culture that produces fruit. Worth a million words. Thanks! Then, alternating between tears and laughter as you so beautifully describe the dilemma. And I’m saying, “I need to own this, to engage with this process”. As you describe the dilemma, you’re describing me “...more on my plate than I have bandwidth to say grace over.” (Love it!) BUT...at 71 I’m finding myself on the threshhold of a new season, my Dad just having passed to glory and myself no longer a primary caregiver...and knowing that the path forward is NOT going back to life as it was before. I know I’m on the threshhold of a paradigm shift, and I have a LOT to unpack going forward into the next chapter of posessing my birthright. How can I NOT consider your challenge? And God knows how I need these tools, even though I don’t really know what they are. But I feel I need to at least look into the toolbox. So...I’m without excuses. Looking forward to what comes next.... Gordon Haggerty Seattle
Replied by : Arthur Burk