Friday, December 31, 2010

Reformedville's Career Student Program

I once knew a girl who was a career college student. She attended a junior college and changed her major at least once a year. She had been a student for years, and had racked up enough units for several degrees, yet the diversity of her courses never added up to a degree in any one field. She had odd part time or babysitting jobs to bring in some pizza and beer money, but beyond that she never concentrated her efforts into doing one thing for a living, other than attending college and having a party lifestyle. She never made the most of her potential, stacking up an education that was never put to use.

In some ways, I think the approach to teaching God's people in Reformed circles has a tendency to resemble the life of the girl I knew, although not intentionally. People in Reformed circles put a great emphasis on doctrine and the teaching of doctrine, with the expectation that the education will pay off someday. But often, so much time is put into teaching that there's no time left over to put that education to work. Then, when it is noticed that nobody is putting their education to work as a result of being over educated (because they have no time), the solution to people doing nothing becomes more education or re-education, resulting in more of nothing being done. A vicious cycle can develop, and a complacency in being educated. We can become mere hearers of the word, and not doers.

I had already started the draft for this post when I came across a short, timely post by Alan Knox titled Learning Before Serving? that illustrates my point. He links to aBowden blog that tells of a men's ministry that dies because the men felt they need more teaching before they can do anything. Please read Alan's short post here.  But, as it goes on to say:

I’ll serve when... I’ve had more teaching... The problem is that there is no perfect time to serve, and if we wait until we have “had enough teaching” we will never serve. After all, when does one know all there is to know about God, and who ever finishes being taught?

I think the solution is quite different. I think the best lessons are learned, not in the classroom, but in the trenches, with sleeves rolled up, hands dirty, and back sore.
I don't have a problem with teaching or doctrine, but when it seems to be an end in itself, or it there is no practical application, just how valuable is it? How many of us are career students?


  1. Why don't you give some tangible, real-life examples instead of generic ones? I THINK that I understand what you're trying to say, but would be interested in some thing more specific. And, in your view, is this confined to "people in Reformed circles?" Again, I would like to have you write more specifically, and less generally.


    PS Agree w/you on Assange...thought lots about it, too.

  2. C,

    I've been vague for a couple of reasons on this post, and I could discuss it in private with you. The link I provided shows an example that fits what I was trying to say. As to whether this is confined to Reformed circles, I can't really say, because I've existed almost entirely in Reformed circles. I'm guessing it takes place elsewhere, too.