I guess we all in some way want to claim Jesus education methodology as our own, whether he spoke to crowds and taught in that way, he walked and talked, he took people aside and reflected on their experience, and unashamedly as a detached youthworker id be no different, but just to say that I stole these thoughts from a recent sermon I heard, so it was given diadactically, but emphasised practical, reflective learning, as a key for discipleship.
The way Jesus disciple those twelve men, can be seen to be key in how we do youthwork in our communities. For one thing, millions of people subsequently have heard of this formative story, which has much to do with Jesus actions, and the power of it, and the sacrificial witness of the ones he chose to communicate it in their immediate context, from Jerusalem, to Rome and across the world. Yet, for all the Power and miracles, behind it was a method of working that did not bring immediate results, did not change the world, in Jesus earthly time, and at a couple of stages in the narrative it could be said that the plan was failing. In todays world its easy to see the success stories of miracle business growth, but it took 10 years for Starbucks to grow more than its original 4 stores in one city, it wanted to create the right culture, and organisation before it expanded it to the world.
I guess it could be said that it was like those moments in the Lord of Rings when there became many distractions to the journey of the Ring, and those two hobbits getting to the destination, and how we wonder if they’ll ever make it, especially in the film when they get escorted to Osgilliath with Faramir (that bit isn’t in the book!). Those moments when the disciples gave up, it feels like all that time was wasted, it was the end of the line, for the disciples in the part they were going to play in the emergence of the church.
Jesus key strategy was his investment in people, spending time with people, especially the twelve, but also the 3, and the one that he loved. He lived in the world, understood that culture, became part of the neighbourhood, and as he did so chose those whom had the skills he needed for the mission ahead, and the others, the extended family, the women (who travelled with him to the cross) . And for at least three years discipled them – so that after this time they would stand up for him, understand the mission, be bold and confident, stay with him – no? all that investment for betrayal? Denial, fleeing, and being terrified..
Yet given what we now know, it would be harsh to criticise, for as we look at the disciples, we must look in the mirror at ourselves, and yet despite this should think about Jesus and how he discipled as a way of educating, a way of being, and a way of life.
1. Jesus did it, they watched, they talked
2. Jesus did it, they copied, they talked (sending of 12
3. Jesus watched, the discipled did it, they talked – feeding of 5000 ( but they didn’t quite)
4. The disciples did it, Jesus didn’t watch, they talked
5 The disciples did it, and then encouraged others to do it, they talked. ( Philip, Ethiopian)
In terms of learning, its an active process, a process of doing and reflecting, of seeing, of copying of doing. But also how investing in people is a gradual thing, a process, and a process of growth. It was important to Jesus that the 12 people got it, that they worked it out, and could repeat the same with others.
It may not be rocket science, yet it made me think about Youthwork, about growing disciples with young people, and how this can happen in the context of the streets. We are encouraged to ‘grow disciples’ and Jesus form of discipleship which is person centered in the holistic and active sense is something that a sustained youthwork presence can be, with young people.
Also this active, repeated process is not a regimented / imitatory process, given that Jesus reminded the disciples that “some things just don’t happen like that – (they require prayer and fasting) so mimicking and copying is not required, but being appropriate in the context/ situation is. To be appropriate in the context is one aspect of re-enacting Theodrama in the world, the others being respect of the Canon (text) and Church (community). Would a detached youthwork that empowers do so in the way Jesus empowers the disciples? And when do we let go and trust young people in the community not just watch, but copy, and do, without us..? But lets invest in them, value them and get it right in the communities where we are. The world is our stage, the world contains the new disciples of the new church, and when we are with, live alongside, have conversation and we create the possibility of this happening.