The URC is about to enter into the first year of its Vision 4 Life project. When I say ‘about to’ that’s obviously church speak for in 6 months.
So hear’s my tuppence worth on V4L…
I like the idea. I think that encouraging our congregations to engage with ‘The Bible’, ‘Prayer’ and ‘Evangelism’ is a good thing but it has to go beyond that to make any difference because I’m sure if this is seen as just another bible study programme or house group then the people who usually take part in these things will take part in this and nothing much will change.
Change is the goal. Transformation.
OK. That sounds great. If the bible and prayer and evangelism are anything then transforming should be at the top of the list. If not I think we have missed the point.
I got to have a look at some of the draft ‘bible’ material the other day. ‘The Bible’ is the first theme. My honest opinion? Disappointing. Very disappointing.
For me (and that’s the only opinion I can give) the materials look far too much like every other bible study I’ve ever seen. And the bit that’s missing is the ‘transformation’.
The questions that never seem to make it into bible studies ar ‘So what?’ and ‘How will this change my life?’. ‘What do YOU think this means?’ and ‘How does it help you understand your life and faith?’.
Those for me are the transforming questions. I guess you might call it ‘contextual’. I’m a big fan of contextual bible study because it is about you, your understanding, your insight, your life. Academic theology is important but only if it informs how people understand their faith.
Jesus did contextual all the time. He pointed to sheep, goats, mustard seeds, water, trees, wine, bread and said the Kindgdom of God is like this. People understood because they recognised the context of the stories. We don’t live in the Galilee of 2000 years ago so our context is different. OUR faith has to make sense in OUR context. That’s why churches are empty, that’s why fresh expressions of church appear. People need to make sense of their faith in their life or else is makes no sense at all. Faith stops being transforming and becomes an academic exercise.
So, if V4L is going to be Visionary and For LIFE then it has to help people make the connection.