14 Apr 2010

Lessons from Lent

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This year for Lent I crafted and led an online Bible mentoring program for 3 college students. I have wanted to develop a ministry like this for some time. My goal was to spend at least 30-60 minutes a day on it. I dubbed it the Practical Disciple Bible Coaching program. So here is what it looked like.
PD BiBle Coaching in a Nutshell

  • Weekly emailed learning modules
  • Process-oriented content i.e. provide tools for equipping rather than just information
  • A password protected website of resources, links, modules, etc.
  • A conference call system for coaching
  • Multimedia content, i.e. video, audio, and text
  • Both embedded and downloadable media for easy access.
  • Action-the oriented content

So how did it go?

Putting together the initial structure was a huge undertaking that I had to pull off in under a week and by-and-large came together  as I envisioned it.  The three college students I recruited were awesomely receptive to the possibilities.   Everyone came out of the gate very enthusiastically, but we all struggled with busyness and how to integrate daily time in the Word.  Busyness was perhaps the single largest obstacle in the whole endeavor and I will say more about that under ‘lessons learned’ below.
While I want to revamp a significant portion of the content I feel like the content is solid, helpful and significant.  I did not teach any content about the Bible.  In other words, I didn’t teach any facts, information or lessons about the actual text.  My focus was equipping participants with tools for reading, learning, applying and experiencing the Word so that they would then experience transformation.  I am anxious to receive their feedback on the effectiveness of those tools and/or how much they applied.  Conversationally, I am aware that the participant’s activity level was very diverse.

I found the biggest challenge in this process is not in creating the content but mentoring students toward application.  I know from my own experience that the tools I shared will prompt significant spiritual growth when consistently applied, but you have to help people apply them first.  As mentioned above, ‘busyness’ was the biggest obstacle for everyone along with the fatigue it produces.  When I revise the program and run a second test group  I am going to make the program longer with more incremental steps.  This will help people move into a more solid baseline of daily reading.  Also, I need to include some exercises for developing greater self-awareness around time management, priorities and self-discipline.
I am reminded of a friend of mine who created a fantastic independent study on animal tracking. He quickly discovered people couldn’t really do the program because they lacked basic naturalist skills necessary to understanding animal behavior. He had to create a naturalist study to get people the foundation necessary for the tracking study.   We live in a culture driven by immediate gratification and multi-tasking.   I have to help people tame those time beasts if they are effectively going to study and apply the Word of God in their lives.
Where do I go from here?

I have one last module to write to complete the study I started.  I will finish that, then get feedback.  Revise the program.  Then some time in the very near future, I will be relaunching another test group with preferable 15-20 people.   I will be adding a forum to the bible coaching website that will allow for peer mentoring and a place for people to post questions prior to the group conference calls.  I also am working on a series of “mindset” recordings.  There are certain mindsets necessary to being successful at any spiritual discipline.  I am hoping that the audios will inform, motivate and direct the participants toward greater success in the spiritual goals that they set.
Your prayers for this important process are much appreciated.  I hope you have taken time to evaluate your Lenten experience and worked on a “where to go from here” plan.  If not, then I encourage you to read my earlier post of questions to help you evaluate.
Lastly, I would love to hear from other readers what they did for Lent and any important lessons they learned.

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