I’m intrigued by Scott McKnight’s blog post, which asks about what topics you would cover if you were teaching young adults the teachings of Jesus.
The issue focuses on content choice, an important topic. However, it made me think about an issue, perhaps more important: the delivery system. The Greek approach to life was all about right thinking leads to right behavior. The Hebrew worldview completes the circle by adding that right behavior leads to right thinking. Most churches in recent decades have demonstrated a bias for cognitive learning and remain frustrated at the lack of discipleship depth.
Something to think about
Jesus did provide a commission for followers that includes “teaching them all I have commanded you.” However, the driving purpose-oriented imperative of the commission was to “make disciples.” How? By (1) going; (2) baptizing; and (3) teaching.
Who was the primary audience for this commission? The Disciples – the followers of Jesus. They were those who experienced a relationship with the Master. Is content important? As the book The Jesus Creed implies? Of course.
I believe the medium is more important, however. The medium is the message: wrong medium, the content doesn’t get a hearing.
So what medium do you choose for young adults? Books? Creeds? An institution like a church? All of these are probably important tools, but are they the medium? God demonstrated a different medium. It’s called the incarnation. Jesus came in the flesh. It’s all about relationship. The question about what topics would you cover is precluded by a more important issue: who are you? That reflects another question: Who is in you? That begs the question, Who is Jesus? To you? For You?
No wonder Jesus says we are to be witnesses, which is only possible through an infusion of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). This implies a personal relationship. A personal experience with Jesus.
Over the last several years, we have developed SEND North America, a t raining experience for young adults. it’s inspired by a similar experience that has been used over a decade in Europe. One of the key elements of this equipping model for discipleship is based on the approach of Jesus who challenged followers to do something before they learned anything. He said, (1) “come, follow me” and then (2) “I will teach you to be fishers of men” (and women). It was, and is an invitation into relationship. Content is important. Community allows content to breathe life.