I believe that every Christian wants to run the race well? Why? Because the Spirit of the risen Christ resides within them. A muffled—perhaps even stifled—desire is a desire nonetheless. We must fan that (and pray it) to flame so that every believer becomes equipped.
Different churches attack this need for training in different ways. Some offer entire Christian education departments. They add classes as often as they can on every single subject possible. Some focus on a Sunday AM Sunday School followed by a worship service. Some offer full-blown seminaries alongside those other offerings. Some encourage their congregations to join up with alternate training programs offered by nearby schools or non-profits like the Downline Institute. We offer The Chapel Equipping Institute.
In many ways, the Institute covers the same type of things many of the above do—but we want it to do more. The ultimate aim is to have the Institute offer multiple ways to engage in biblical training (classes, more intensive training, seminars, etc.), the current format is through specific training classes offered throughout the year.
This spring we will have three classes offered (you can sign up here). Now, perhaps more than anyone else on staff, I’m a huge fan of the classroom environment—so much so that I’ve only taken about nine years of my entire life “off” (and for five of those years I hadn’t started kindergarten). I love both being a student in the classroom and in teaching in the classroom (which I see as markedly different than a Sunday morning preaching environment).
While I would’ve been fine making 200-week courses about anything and everything, we have been working to make our classes something specific. Here are the specific ways we are tailoring the classes.
- Length: The classes (except for FPU, which is a set limit) run eight weeks at a time. This is on purpose. We do not want to live in the classroom, but we also don’t want to lose opportunity to develop relationships with our fellow classmates. Could they be ten weeks? Probably. Seven? Sure. However, the eight week length allows for good development of topics—even complex ones—without crowding out the other important things going on around and within the church family. (It also provides for a break at about the midway point, give or take based upon EBR schedules and the like.)
- Topics: We evaluate every topic. “Is this the most necessary?” “How does this build a disciple?” “Is this information reproducible?” “Is there enough rigor that anybody can do it but not so little that it isn’t a waste of time?” We’ll keep evaluating our courses based upon these questions in order to slowly but surely build the strongest classes that we can. We’ll build out the classes as soon as we have the right teacher, the right topic (and I’m pretty persnickety here), and the right approach to teaching the topic (see below).
- Format: We are shooting for these classes to be ninety minutes. Instructors have broken that up into roughly 50% teaching and 50% small group discussion and/or class discussion. Why? Fundamentally, we want these classes to (1) help the students be more like Jesus and (2) help the students help others to be more like Jesus. If the concepts discussed only make sense in a laboratory, then there is no room for them in the Institute. Thus, we discuss. We figure out how these concepts make sense as we live our lives. We figure out how these topics should change our view of God and our view of the world.
If you are in Baton Rouge and are able, I’d love for you to take a class. They start January 30th. Two classes will be Monday night and have child care available with registration. The third class is FPU and it is offered on Wednesday nights. Child care is not available for that. I hope you can make it.
Sign up here.