Chapter 8 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren deals with applying what we say is our purpose as a church. One thing I really like in this chapter, and have used before in one of the churches I served, is what Warren calls "The Life Development Process". Warren illustrates this process using a baseball diamond. Each base represents a different class that helps people in the church grow in their relationship with Christ. First base is the membership class. Second base is the maturity class. Third base is the ministry class. And home base is the missions class.
The way I applied this in a previous church was to use this as the format for adult education on Sunday mornings. When I went to the church in question they had only one adult education class. We expanded to as many as four adult ed classes going at one time on Sunday mornings. The way Rick Warren's baseball diamond helped me was to maintain balance in our adult ed. I found that without the baseball diamond as a model, we tended to focus completely on "maturity" type classes in our church. These consisted mostly of Bible studies of one type or another. We really needed to add to this type of class other classes where we trained people for ministry and for missions or personal evangelism. So, following Warren's model, I tried to make sure we were offering all four types of classes on a regular basis.
For our membership class I designed my own curriculum and we offered this class on a single Saturday morning several times throughout the year.
Our maturity classes took place on Sunday morning during a fully graded Sunday school hour. We used a variety of curricula for these classes.
For our basic ministry (3rd base) class we used "Network" from Willow Creek that helps people discover not only their spiritual gifts but what they are passionate about in life.
For our home base missions class we used another teaching tool from Willow Creek, the "Becoming a Contagious Christian" course. This course really helped our people learn how to practice friendship evangelism.
I have been thinking and praying a lot about how to implement this Life Development Baseball Diamond Process at Stowe Community Church. Currently we have one adult education class offered at 8:30 on Sunday mornings. We could use the baseball diamond model and begin offering classes covering all the bases on Sunday morning. Or we could offer classes for each of the bases on a Saturday morning quarterly basis. I am not sure what is going to work best yet for this church. Sometimes it takes experimentation to find out. But one thing is for sure, all Christians can benefit from all of these types of classes, and the baseball diamond model helps to keep adult education in the church balanced.
What do you think?