July 19, 2003

[Clear Plan Fertility Monitor]After our last home group meeting, Kay & I agreed that the group would soon become restless unless it had a clearer vision. I mean, it’s one thing to put out a general call like, “We want to be a micro-church,” but what is God’s call on our specific micro-church for this specific time?

Before leaving for vacation (actually, while riding the train into San Francisco for WWDC), I read Darren’s posts on Holistic Spirituality. I liked the diagram a lot, and the thought of becoming more balanced was appealing. But one problem for me was that the “Action” quadrant lumped together both Justice and Evangelism — and in my experience, groups tend to be strong in one or the other, but not both. Historically, social justice has been done by the “liberal” groups, while evangelism has been done by the “conservative” groups — so it’s easy to say you’re doing the Action thing when you’re really only doing half of it.

So while we were on vacation, I spent a little time praying, asking God for a more specific vision for our group. Then a different model hit me. I’ve been reading, off and on, Devotional Classics edited by Richard Foster. In this book, classic excerpts are grouped into five categories: the prayer-filled life, the virtuous life, the Spirit-empowered life, the compassionate life, and the Word-centered life. These, Foster says, happen to match five great traditions of Christianity: Contemplative, Holiness, Charismatic, Social Justice, and Evangelical.

I drew a circle and divided into 5 slices. Then I began describing different facets of those five slices. Before long, I had something I could look at and say, “I want to become more balanced.” And then I had a specific vision: that everyone in our group would grow spiritually, especially in areas where they lack experience. (When I have more time, I will try to put my circle on this blog.)

Kay warmed up to this idea once we worked through how to present this to the group. The challenge of sharing any vision is to get ownership, to make it theirs. To that end, we read Ephesians 4:11-16 as a group. I asked, “What does it mean to ‘become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’?” We began talking about spiritual growth. Getting a large drawing pad, I asked everyone to brainstorm about different areas of spiritual growth. “You can grow in… prayer?” That got the ball rolling.

Once the brainstorming was done, I rearranged the things the group had just said into the 5 areas, pointing out that you might be strong in one area and weak in another. I shared that for me, my greatest lack was in the area of social justice — so in order to grow, I should focus on the place I’m weak. I used the analogy of being strong in your right hand but weak in your left. Suddenly one person said, “I get it: it’s cross-training.” That phrase struck me, especially the double-meaning of “cross”.

So I have redone our home group web site to reflect our new vision. If you go to the “what” page, you will see what we actually put on the drawing pad. Some areas clearly need more fleshing out, but it is my hope that by making it a group process instead of just talking at them blah-blah-blah, the group will come to own the vision as their own.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

8 responses to Cross-Training

  1. I love the idea of “micro-churching” and I’m in the process of thinking how to do one. So, take it or leave it, but I think a good way to go might be to have 3 things remain constant: 1) educating/learning, 2) prayer, 3) serving together in some way.
    I don’t know how you could incorporate this where you are, but that’s what the “church” should be about, I believe.
    Be good. Keep us updated on how things progress.

  2. By the way, it sounds like you’ve got good thoughts on it anyway, and things should go great. I just wanted to share…that’s it.

  3. Intriguing! I would very much like to one day see your circle.

  4. I notice you quote Darren’s blog, if I were you I would stay away from it. He is a liberal and his ideas are not biblical. Be warned.

  5. Greg, can you tell me:
    – what is a liberal
    – what makes Darren a liberal
    – why I should avoid liberals
    – what are unbiblical ideas
    – what makes Darren’s ideas unbiblical
    – why I should avoid unbiblical ideas

  6. Balancing

    People relate differently to God. They express their spirituality and faith differently. You only have to observe the number of denominations and differences in ethos to observe this. But, even the most cursory glance in your own Churches would see thi…

  7. Ah, so after I did that post on my blog, I found this post all about the spiritual cross training thing – and noticed you also picked up on the double meaning of cross…cool. By the way, can you direct me to the first page of your blog? Doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get there from your main page – when did you start? The farthest back I can click is September 03, then I have to go back month by month and I don’t know how far I’m going…Thanks!

  8. I already wrote Katherine back, but for anybody else: Click on the ARCHIVES heading in the sidebar.