One of the many things that fascinates me about the life of Jesus is His ability to stitch together learning environments and relational experiences. Reading through the stories contained in the Bible about the disciples, their struggles, triumphs, successes and failures, it is clear that these both the environment and experience are key components of discipleship.
My family and I visited some friends over the weekend. It was great to catch up and swap stories. Later in the evening as the bed-time routine was in full swing in our house, my daughter Saydie stunned me with a comment she made about her experience our friends home. I simply asked her if she had any questions she wanted to ask me about today, or if she wanted to tell me anything. This was her paraphrased response: "Dad, I don't like who I am when I'm at their house." We unpacked this comment a little further with each other (about as far as any 3 year old is able to!!) and discovered that Saydie didn't appreciate neither her experience or the environment that was created in our friends home. She felt like some of her behaviour wasn't appropriate and attributed it to this different environment where she wasn't able to decipher appropriate boundaries. Yes, she did use other words to describe her experience, the preceding sentence was run through the "big-boy" filter!! :)
This made me think about the importance of both the environment and experience that are created for the purpose of discipleship. In relation to my daughter, does her environment and experience allow her to pursue things like authenticity and safety (among other values), or does it restrict her from being who she is?
When we create programs, strategies and plans for ministry, are we taking into account what sort of environments and experiences we are subjecting people to? Are we allowing the people whom we desire to minister to be a part of the formation process of both the environment and the experience?
My prayer for my kids, myself and my church is that we wouldn't be tempted to say "I don't like who I am when I'm in their house."