Wednesday, June 10, 2009

forming disciples

We don’t think ourselves into new ways of behaving
We behave ourselves into new ways of thinking.

(My summary of the end of a chapter in Andy Crouch’s (fantastically well written), Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, in which he argues that to we need to focus not on culture, but cultures; not on big picture but everyday cultural practices.)

Is this statement true and accurate? If so, what does it mean for the way church’s disciple people – for the sermon, the discipleship group, the way we form our youth and children?

Posted by steve at 01:19 PM

9 Comments

  1. Depends on the context as to the truth of the statement. It is almost the chicken and egg argument.

    From a sporting point of view thinking about an action actually brings about new behaviour. Currently I am getting back into swimming for the upcoming tri season. My swimming is that bad I am having to relearn my stroke ( so I dont look like a drowned rat!!!) An important part of learning that new skill is thinking about what my body needs to do. Without thinking I cant change.

    However, thinking about our churches / lives perhaps the statement makes a bit of sense. But once againI think is is similiar to the chicken and egg argument.

    Comment by Ozy Mandias — June 10, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  2. I would say that it is the Spirit’s work in us that forms us and we become disciples as we respond to that work.

    Comment by Mark Stevens — June 10, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  3. Yes Mark, that is a theology I agree with.

    Yet this week, you and I make some choices in terms of how we give shape to that theology. When the church or youth group or small group gathers what will do with that time? You could play games, preach a sermon, create a collage, listen in silence …

    And I wonder if what we decide to do is shaped by our answer to that statement: whether we think people are formed by thinking or by the practices they engage in,

    steve

    Comment by steve — June 10, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

  4. I agree with Ozy that it’s a bit over simplified, besides, the either-or nature of the quote just bugs me. I wonder if there isn’t truer to say that something(s) in the Christian life — the story, a shared hope, the experience of community — that forms both our thinking and behavior.

    Comment by Maria — June 10, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

  5. Maria: “I wonder if there isn’t truer to say that something(s) in the Christian life — the story, a shared hope, the experience of community” ….. so ….

    how do you impart that others Maria? Do you reckon that people will “get” this “something” by having their thoughts changed? or by finding ways to live them, and by so doing, be changed?

    steve

    Comment by steve — June 10, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  6. Steve, I never doubted that you did. ;-)

    I find this statement interesting, “whether we think people are formed by thinking or by the practices they engage in” – I think both and depending on the person will determine which one it is. Some are formed by thinking some are formed by doing. That is what is great about Opawa, you actually don’t write off one in favour for the other – you allow room for both to be the instrument through which God works.

    Comment by Mark Stevens — June 10, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

  7. how do you impart that others???? Quote Steve

    Perhaps within a church leadership context (if that is what we are talking about) it is twofold.

    there first has to be the idea for change and then the wilingness to change. (the mind aspect) But then within the church people must be given an opportunity to experience that change. ( the doing)

    Perhaps I could use an example
    I am a teacher. To help students write I use the above aproach for most of my teaching, especially writing. I first explain, show and model the style I want. Then i provide a framework for my students to complete that. I have learnt from experience that one doesn’t work without the other. Jump to the second part and the students have nothing to build upon. Focus on the first and the student dont actually do anything.

    Comment by Ozy Mandias — June 11, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  8. Ozy, as I was reflecting on your comment, the disciple Peter popped into my head.

    I’m intrigued at how he said yes to following Jesus. But that it took quite some time for him to articulate that Jesus was Messiah. It seems to me that for Peter, “follow” was not in invitation to get his thinking right, but to watch and participate (behave), from which flowed the thinking about the theological beliefs.

    steve

    Comment by steve — June 13, 2009 @ 3:35 pm

  9. Thanks Steve good point.

    I think your statement earlier in this thread sums it up. Some are formed by thinking and others doing. Perhaps me by bit of both.

    I personally had to think a little before coming to Christ. However, since that time both my thoughts and actions have changed and continue to change. So for me personally there has to be thought first, for Peter he acted first. Perhaps I need to change a little :)

    Comment by Ozy Mandias — June 14, 2009 @ 9:57 pm

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