No, don’t worry. That’s not the norm. I’m not a pastor yet after all.
Back to blogging after a long hiatus, and you would think that I might begin by recounting some crazy travel adventure or zany cross-cultural confusion. Well, for good or for bad, I’ve decided that my heart and my mind have lately been trained upon the ever-more mundane yet equally-ever-more significant reality of the community that Alison and I have found here in Prague and at IBTS.
This was brought home to us throughout the last week, as Alison and I sat through 12 bible studies led by the 12 “CAT” students (Certificate of Applied Theology) that we teach in the areas of ‘communication’ and ‘practice of ministry.’ For me, tack on the normal Tuesday night study we attend, and that’s a whopping 13 bible studies in the course of 4 days!
“Why subject yourse…er…privilege yourself to that many holy huddles?” you may ask. That’s a good question.
For the 4 weeks prior, Alison and I had been teaching a unit for communications called ‘Leading Small Group Bible Studies’ to these up-and-coming lay leaders, and we determined that an appropriate final project would be to have these students lead the two of us (and two of their peers) in a short bible study so that we could assess how they handle preparation and group dynamics. All in all, this was their third such exercise with a small group in the 5-week period, thus over the last 5 weeks there were a total of 42 bible studies held on campus among this little group. We’re tough instructors, what can I say?
“What on God’s green earth does this have to do with community?” you may now ask. That’s another good question.
We are SO proud of the progress we have seen in the work of these students; I mean, they hit it out of the park. I had some of the most rewarding discussions about little passages that I’ve had in years with these students, some of whom have never engaged in such an enterprise. In general, this reflects a theme throughout the last 7 months as a whole – growth. Many of these students came here in September barely speaking English. Now they are some of our closest friends here in Prague, people whose perspectives and faith challenges us on a daily basis. We have witnessed students grow in their abilities, grow in their confidence, grow in their character. It’s truly a blessing for us to see.
Furthermore, we really feel like we have been allowed to be a small part of that growth. That’s a humbling thing. What’s even more humbling, however, is that I realize just how much these students are helping me to grow in my faith, to experience my calling and my passions in new ways. And that’s really what community is all about, after all. Reciprocal relationships, supporting presences, and a love that always challenges us to keep growing into the people we never realized we could be.
If I leave Prague in 2 months wondering what God did with this year, and whether I’m any stronger of a preacher/leader/pastor/etc. when I get back, I can remember 4 days and 13 bible studies, and I can rest in that.