by Pathwright
Blog

The Shape of Church Learning and Discipleship

Written by

The Belltower Team

on February 1, 2018

Before you read this, pause and take a look at everything you’ve learned in the past month.

… and done?

Unless you’re an unusually studious and visually-oriented notetaker there’s likely nothing for you put your eyeballs on. 👀 In other words, there really aren’t a lot of effective ways to visualize a learning journey.

But if there were a way to look back at a learning journey, or to look forward at what we want to learn next, what shape would it be in?

At Pathwright, we think that discipleship (like all learning) looks most like a path. As a path, discipleship is . . .

Connected: No matter how spontaneous it seems in the moment, everything we learn is connected to something we’ve previously learned — like steps in a path.

Active: Real discipleship happens when we reflect, apply, and act not just watch and read. Passively absorbing content without action is like sitting on a path enjoying the view and going nowhere.

Progressive: Learning and growing in God usually doesn’t happen in random leaps but through consistent, daily steps.

Meandering: Discipleship isn’t a conveyor belt moving us efficiently toward holiness. Rather, it’s more like a connected series of winding paths we stumble on and need time to explore.

Communal: There’s no such thing as a solo Christian. True discipleship relies on relationships.

Whenever we're teaching, thinking of discipleship as a path helps us remember a few core principles:

  1. Every new idea or concept must be connected and built on a previous one. It’s impossible to teach someone something entirely new.
  2. Paths are best taken together. How can we encourage “togetherness” even if we're teaching online, at a distance?
  3. Learning is active, not passive. Watching and reading doesn’t move people forward unless it’s acted upon.
  4. As teachers, we're primarily guides that help people choose the right path and arrive safely at their destination.
  5. As course designers, we're primarily path makers (or “pathwrights”) who create a path through the chaos of information and ideas that we can guide people down.

The true shape of discipleship is a path — not a lesson plan, a church building, or a video playlist. Our primary job is to make paths and guide people along them.

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