By Matt Van Peursem
Pastor of Catalyst Church in Woodland, California
Two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, our church celebrated five years of ministry. We took that opportunity to look back and see at what level we had accomplished what we actually set out to achieve. In many ways, we were successful, but there was one glaring area of our ministry that had not experienced this same level of growth. As we answered the question, “Are people who engage with our discipleship environments looking more like Jesus after spending a considerable amount of time within that system?”, our answer was, unfortunately, no.
Since the beginning, we had formed our groups in much the way our staff team had been shown the definition of discipleship, which was 10–14 people, usually mixed gender or couples, gathering once a week to discuss the sermon or some other curriculum. When we began to examine this program closer, we found a few problems that contributed to our lackluster results.
First, the size. The vast majority of people find it difficult to maintain close relationships with two to three people, so why did we think they could develop those types of relationships with a dozen.
Next, mixed gender. We found that, for example, if a man is struggling with lust, it is highly unlikely he’ll talk about it next to his wife, and he certainly won’t talk about it in front of someone else’s wife.
Lastly, group focus. We found what people really wanted out of the group was fun and friendship, which is all well and good but a far cry from our goal, which was formation. . . .
Scripture and Your Cultural Lens
Being on mission means joining God where he is moving, and sometimes that means he calls us to engage across cultural lines. This requires us to be sensitive and aware of our own cultural biases.
Recognizing that the cultural lens through which we read and engage with Scripture impacts more of our interactions with one another in the church than we probably realize, we invite you to join us for a webinar on February 16, 2023. Wayne Stapleton and Bethany Kaposhi will host a discussion about how the cultural lens through which we read and engage with Scripture impacts our interactions, inside and outside of the church. Wayne and Bethany will be joined by Larry Caldwell, professor of Intercultural Studies and Bible Interpretation at Kairos University, and Lyndell Campbell-Réquia, NAB missionary and seminary professor in Brazil.
Join us for this webinar to talk about how each of us bring our own cultural context to how we understand and read Scripture and how that impacts the way we follow Jesus and interact with one another.
Backyard Pilgrim Book Studies
Whether or not you were able to join in Monday’s webinar that introduced what the Backyard Pilgrim journey looks like, you are still invited to take part in one of the two Backyard Pilgrim book studies starting up next month.
Starting the week of February 19, and running for six weeks, these groups will be led by Deb Judas and Bob Baumann, both of whom are members of the Missional Initiatives Team and local church pastors. Groups will meet once a week – on either Tuesday afternoons or Thursday mornings – to discuss what they are learning and how they are seeing God at work in their lives and in their neighborhood.
If this interests you, click on the link below. We will also mail a free copy of the first edition of the book to the first 20 people who sign up by February 2.