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Musings on Discipleship Curriculum

Curriculum is a topic which usually brings some interesting responses from those doing training and leadership development.

Curriculum is a topic which usually brings some interesting responses from those doing training and leadership development.

I have noticed that depending on what personality type a person is may determine how they view curriculum.  The behavioral inventory I find most helpful is the Right Path and one of the factors is "Structured" and "Spontaneous". I talk to leaders who represent both sides of the continuum and I see a correlation.  

Leaders defend their position on curriculum many times based on their personal profile.  The honest leaders are the ones who acknowledge their own profile preferences and bias and think beyond to what is best for the people who are needing to be trained.

Randy Pope makes a good point in his book InSourcing, that everyone uses a curriculum but the difference is how effective is it.  "We don't use a curriculum, we just do life together" is a common response and possibly a reaction to hyper-modernistic structure and control.  The other extreme is asking the whole church to go through 40 days of this or that and calling it "discipleship".

As a leader who has been helping people with spiritual formation my whole career, the topic of curriculum is important to me. I have yet to find a curriculum which I fully like.  In the back of my mind I think, "I'm going to take a study leave and write the curriculum I will like!".  Of course there is never enough time to actually pull that big project off.

I am left with using, abusing, adapting and explaining the next guy's attempt to write a good curriculum.  Hey, something is better than nothing.  If there is healthy biblical-gospel preaching going on, we don't have to have the silver-bullet curriculum.

One aspect of curriculum which seems to overlooked is the idea of sustainability of a discipleship movement.  I know many pastors that have "pulled together" their own curriculum made up of articles, Keller sermons, their sermons, Discipleship Journal articles and whatever else they have collected along the ministry trail.  They are excited about it because they "developed" it and they own it.  The challenge comes when that ever-morphing curriculum is used through the years, different results happen.

Some pastors are on the in the perpetual program merry-go-round in that they try different discipleship books, programs and curriculum and then wonder why they are not seeing sustainable leaders being developed.

So here are my summary musings on Discipleship Curriculum.

1.  Everyone uses a curriculum

2.  Curriculum should support a philosophy and structure of ministry not the other way around

3.  Discipleship is both structured and spontaneous, avoid projecting your profile and preferences

4.  Curriculum supplements the life product of the disciple-maker

5.  Focus group time on God's heart and the heart of the people in the group

6.  Gaze at God, glance at curriculum

What curriculum (if any) do you use for discipleship?