Thursday, May 24, 2007

1 Chron 12:32 Report, 44: Cyber College 1 -- training for change and transformation of our region

As we consider how to develop a discipleship and Christian service-focussed Cyber College that works through an online campus and local micro-campus centres, our educational focus must not only be to inform, but to by God's grace help to change and transform: individuals, families, churches, institutions, communities.

This is in accord with the powerful spiritual education and transformation principles outlined by Paul:
2 Tim 3:14 . . . continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
TIT 2:11 . . . the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good . . . . TIT 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.
As well as:
EPH 4:17 . . . you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

EPH 4:20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness . . . . 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

EPH 5:1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God . . . . EPH 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them . . . . EPH 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is . . .
Such passages -- and, we could go on citing more and more on the point! --make it plain that the gospel, through God's grace, by his Spirit and the workings of the Word of God, is intended to change, transform and bless us, utterly filling all things with Christ's grace and glory.

A glance at the gap between the numbers of professing Christians or even church attending ones in our region, and the various social indicators of sin/righteousness, starting with our headlines, shows that such change towards blessing is sorely needed, and too often wanting. (And this is before we touch the even more glaring but too often unnoticed gap between the potential of our church and region in carrying forward the mission of the church in the wider world and what we are actually doing to advance the mission of the church in, and from the region.) In turn, that suggests the need for capacity-building through a well-structured training and mentoring based discipleship programme that focusses on the three phases that were previously highlighted:

Level I -- Consolidating Life-foundations and associated Commitments: helping people work through the basic issues, challenges, decisions, changes, healings and liberations, learning, perspectives, commitments, relationships, attitudes, skills and habits involved in taking up one's cross and following Jesus. [Matt 16:24 - 27.]

Level II -- Basic Service and Leadership, as the focus gradually shifts to basic ministry/service processes and skills, training can stress the church's mission, our part in it, handling of issues agendas and challenges, and basic leadership and ministry in dyad (one-to-one) and in the small groups oriented to outreach, nurture or specific ministry areas (such as drama or social welfare).

Level III -- Community Service and Leadership. The third phase stresses specific gifts, knowledge and skills for lifetime service and leadership in the family, church, workplace, community, region and world, as we work to fill each of its aspects with Christ. This last phase therefore prepares disciples for proactive, prophetic community, cultural, intellectual and institutional service and leadership under Christ. And, once the cross-cultural aspect is added, we will mobilise the whole church for global missions.

The KCASH model, constructed in light of 2 Tim 3:14 - 17, will help us crystallise how to move beyond merely informing towards transforming:
K - KNOWLEDGE -- as Timothy, we need to be informed, thus learn and understand, key facts, ideas, principles, etc., not just to be learned, but to put them to work

C- COMMITMENTS -- Timothy learned commitment from the example set by those who taught him, and was called to sustain that commitment even in the face of death

A - ATTITUDES -- Timothy's way of seeing the world, and what he expected from it was shaped by the viewpoint of the Scriptures and their Author. E.g., he knew that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," [2 Tim 3:12] that his lifestyle was to be shaped by the truth in love leading to good works, that many would turn aside from the truth to myths, and that his principal mentor, Paul, was "already being poured out like a drink offering" [4:6]

S- SKILLS -- To do good works, we must know how. Indeed, Timothy was encouraged to be one who "correctly handles the word of truth." [2:15]

H - HABITS -- such discipleship and service skills need to become automatic, ingrained into our pattern of acting, even when we are caught by surprise or are under pressure. That requires sustained practice, and the discipline to go through that practice.
In turn, this logically leads us to emphasise the spiral curriculum approach. This curriculum design strategy identifies a cluster of key points ["key themes," KT in the below] that mark expert practice, and then sets out to go through the scope and sequence of content in such a way that a wholistic view of what is needed is always in mind [i.e. through the use of key case studies and examples]. Thus, it builds understanding and skill step by step through a spiral path that highlights the application of the key ideas and skills to basic then increasingly challenging exercises as proficiency develops.

In further turn, this suggests that profiling of learning, achievement and observed practice done in the main through portfolio based assessment based on agreed learning tasks and projects would be a logical way to help develop the competencies and to provide objective evidence of achievement. For instance, each module of training can be structured through a course manual that identifies learning targets that the learner "can and does" practice, with associated evidence as summarised. Then the certificates of participation and achievement for the units would summarise the achieved learning targets as certified by the local mentors and community-based learning centre. Units would accumulate through credit banking into certificates, perhaps:
Level I: Core discipleship skills,

Level II: Core leadership and service skills,

Level III: Community service and leadership skills. (Perhaps, at basic, intermediate and advances stages of proficiency.)
The first level is of course foundational, perhaps using stages such as in this course [for new disciples] or this one [for deepening the level of discipleship and service], with this basic evangelism training module, or any reasonable course of basic discipleship that is substantially equivalent to the cluster just linked. An example of a Level II course would be this one, developed for training Cell Group leaders on Campuses in the Caribbean and applicable to many areas of small group or ministry team oriented service and leadership. At the second and third levels, through negotiated agreements, appropriate achievement should also be acceptable for transfer credits at the relevant level in the region's Bible Schools and even Seminaries. (For instance, cf. this apologetics sub-course, this one in basic philosophy, and the content in the briefing notes on transforming Government here, that on sustainable development here, as well as that on the current Intelligent Design controversy here.].

As well, a procedure would be developed to calibrate and integrate other courses for integration into the system, which would thus encourage the mutual recognition of capacity building efforts across the region. It would also encourage the further development of existing courses and programmes, or even the creation of novel training courses that can then be brought under the umbrella of a regional network of training and recognition of achievement.

Overarching all of this, through the use of the Internet, web sites, blog technologies and the like, access to such integrated training would be improved and increased.

Step by step, a regional cyber college would ten emerge, with a focus on both an online campus and local micro-campus learning centres based in communities and churches. I believe this is a plausibly achievable, and plainly desirable, goal that emerges from our present and by practically achievable and affordable steps, transforms our reality into a better state.

A vision, in short.

So, let us again ask ourselves, under God: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END

UPDATE, May 25:
Slight clewanup, addition of links "missed" on original posting.

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