|This is an old photo but it's not me!|
Well i know what they were thinking: Gav knows how to handle himself, he's been on dozens of cycling trips, he knows his bike, he can map read, cook and he's sensible (at least that's what they thought! I managed to keep that illusion going for quite a while!) and he has a good friend with him, and he's not far away (we lived on the Wirral, 20 miles north of Chester). In other words i had spent countless hours with my mum and dad, not just watching but helping them do all the things needed to go on a cycling holiday, from cleaning to fixing a bike, to solving a map reading problem, and planning shopping and cooking over a 2 week period. In short, they apprenticed me in the art of a cycling youth hostelling holiday, and they knew i was ready to fly solo. The next year we went to the Lake District and the year after that to Inverness and the Highlands with another lad.
What we're trying to do for our faith is a similar thing. We're trying to shift to a more apprentice based model of learning for both adults and children. This doesn't mean you do away with conventional teaching, learning information, or class-room style learning but that you also create environments and culture whereby people can practice and apply what they're learning. The most challenging area for this is that of children and young people. Our culture (and many parents) expects to see children in a Sunday school setting, and that's not wrong, but why do we only see that as an appropriate way of leaning? Can there be alternatives? Can we learn from Jesus' rabbinical background which a group of people physically followed him around, learning by listening, watching and practicing with him, and ultimately then flying solo?
This month we've seen some amazing scenes. At our monthly celebration on the 3rd Nov., the theme was the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). So when the children and young people went out to their groups, they were trained in how to pray for people. While that was going on I was preaching with the adults, and then began our normal period of 'prayer ministry': inviting people to the front to receive prayer for various things. So our team of volunteers brought the children and young people back, and they formed the prayer ministry team, praying for the adults in 2s and 3s with an adult helping them. Seeing adults humble themselves and receive ministry from children, seeing the children step up, lay hands on and pray for the adults, was truly memorable and moving.
|This wasn't our actual scene but it was like it|
Yesterday, the 10th, in our clusters, i know of at least 2 gatherings where the children laid hands on and prayed for anyone who wanted to prayer! Thing is, those gatherings were in a coffee shop and the bar area of a sports clubhouse. I'm proud of MBC, I'm proud of the children who are brave to try, the adults who'll humble themselves to receive from children, and I'm proud of the leaders who enable that to happen. Well done everyone. I'm glad my kids are growing up and experiencing church in this way. I'm glad they're being equipped from a young age to minister in the power of the Spirit, both in church settings but also in public spaces too. I think we're beginning to grasp what apprenticing looks like. It's been a tough journey, and many can't understand it, but we're getting there. Let's keep on keeping on, learning Jesus' way, and bearing the fruit he wants us to.
Keep laughing, keep loving keep learning.