Curriculum helps us dodge community
Old people think they’ve seen it all. But if you keep looking, you can keep learning. Through a men’s group I’m a part of, I’ve learned that people, especially men, can avoid having to open up and truly connect with others. Always having a book to read and discuss or homework to do and share is a surrogate for getting together, listening to each other, and truly “knowing and being known.”
I’ve come to this slowly – like glacier speed. We were once in a small group with John Maxwell and his wife Margaret. Everyone just wanted to be “social” and talk. Guess who was always pushing for a curriculum? Yep, yours truly. A disciple is a “learner and follower” of Jesus Christ, right? So if I wasn’t learning something, why bother?
What I missed was that life is primarily about relationships. It began with the trinity relationships between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Through Christ’s death on the cross, we were added to this “circle”….kindred spirits on a journey hand in hand with our Heavenly Father and with each other.
I’m not busting on curriculum. We do need to keep learning about God and his Word. But we men need to slow down and engage with other men, sometimes without a curriculum and even without a specific purpose. We just need the connection. We need to “know and be known.”
Question: What’s your take on curriculum vs. community?
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Right on. Curriculum provides a framework, and a starting point. A leader ensures the group is pointed in the right direction — Christ — and, while or after doing so, can be most effective, many times, by stepping back and seeing the group take itself down that road. Driving the group through a curriculum without regard to developing community will fail to build community, and members will drop out…opportunity and direction now wasted.
Curriculum *can* help start to form community, but keep in mind: it’s a community group, not a curriculum group. Christ will take care of the rest if you point ’em in His direction and step in here and there to keep ’em on track.
We go out of our way to say that Radical Mentoring is NOT a curriculum, even though some folks can’t stop calling it that. I call it a “track to run on.” It’s like installing a new piece of software. There’s a series of steps you follow in sequence. When you follow the sequence, good things happen. It’s a lot messier (is that a word?) when you make it up as you go. Same for mentoring.