Relational Learning

Peer-discipleship suggests an active, lifetime process of learning, relating, and growing in the Body of Christ into the likeness of Christ. “Making disciples” is an intentional, relational process. In the gospels we see the Lord Jesus investing most heavily in a group of twelve people who would be with Him and with each other as they learned, puzzled, and bonded together for the incredible task ahead of them. And what they experienced they would then offer to others. . . .

As disciples of Christ, we all have something more to learn from God and from each other. Intentional, well-guided, interactive group learning uses questions and discussion to bring the varied life experiences of each participant into meaningful intersection with the precious teaching of the Scripture. In this learning context, the Body of Christ interacts around the Word of God, and the Spirit of God works in and among us. It gives us a place to put words to the issues of our lives, whether celebration, confusion, or disappointment, and observe the same in others, providing a catalyst to discovery and hope.

The growth process that results is dynamic, personally relevant, and life-changing as participants discover a more multi-dimensional understanding of God’s truth, presence, and involvement in our lives – like the many beautiful facets of a diamond. Developing our ability to cultivate learning and relating contexts that bring together the resources of God’s Word, Spirit, and People, help us all see and enjoy a richer relationship with God, as well as apply God’s truth in honest and relevant ways. Iron sharpening iron!

Reflecting on my Own Walk: Dynamic or Static?

  • Are you serving in a lay-leadership role and wish you could be more effective?
  • Do you aspire to serve but wish you could grow in the confidence and skills to do it?
  • As you pour into others, do you long for personal and spiritual refreshment among peers who can encourage and stimulate you?
  • Do you find yourself wishing you had better understanding and skills to engage others in meaningful conversation – at home around your dinner table with family and friends, with your neighbors or colleagues, in your ministry?
  • Do you have a sense that the community of God’s people could be a richer experience?

How might we use interactive, group learning to strengthen the local church in its calling to nurture and multiply fully devoted followers of Christ in a life time of growth and service in an endless variety of settings?

The Opportunity in Relational Learning

In any culture, the presence of healthy, disciple-making churches is essential to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. A dynamic and maturing community of Christ followers testify to the reality of the living Savior in and among them, through their daily lives, relationships, and spheres of influence.  It is this personal and relational process that brings each one, non-believer or seeker, believer new to or long in the faith, into fuller and richer understanding and experience of Truth and the One Who is True.

In a world where the benefits and limits of technology are still being evaluated, life on life discipleship is irreplaceable to serve world evangelism and vital communities of faith in Christ.  And well-trained lay-leaders, who are also co-learners and pilgrims, are needed to give guidance and provide more avenues into relational discipleship opportunities.

A foundational component of real learning is understanding how adults learn best.  What can we learn from how the Lord Jesus Himself prepared His own disciples for a life of earthly and eternal impact.  Active participation is essential for relational, communicating beings, designed in the Image of God for dynamic interaction and thoughtful, honest discussion.  Relational learning is a key aspect of any discipling or mentoring experience since relating to God is intricately tied to relating to one another! Even though some may know more on any given topic or skill than others, through study or experience, no one knows everything about anything, so all can be enriched!

Discovery-based, active learning allows important exploration of the real questions and tensions of life as we honestly attempt to live out our faith with humility, non-defensively, and passionately.  As questions and observations are mirrored through the lenses of multiple contributors in a guided discussion, the beauty of the truth, like a diamond, shines brighter and fuller.

How might we provide more avenues into personal discipling and mentoring experiences, formal or informal, through a model of interactive, life on life learning as peers?

See “Training Opportunities”