Sunday, October 5, 2008

Journey Classes

During today's services, we had our first recognition ceremony for our Journey 401 Class graduates. The 401 Class was offered for the first time in June, and we had nine participants. The journey classes represent a significant component of our discipleship ministry, so I thought it would be worth taking the time in this space to give a brief overview of each of the classes, how they work together, and how they help students experience spiritual growth.

The four four-hour classes are all meant to work together and to build on each other. Therefore, each student signs on to a specific set of commitments after each class before they can proceed to the next one in the series. The first class, Journey 101, is an introduction to the Pathway Community Church family, and the other three classes each relate to one of our Core Values, our Key Three. After taking all four classes, students are familiar with our church and have been given the tools they need to live out a life of full devotion to Christ.

Journey 101 Class
This class is required for church membership. Anyone is allowed simply to attend Pathway, but if you want to join, there are specific commitments that you need to be willing to live up to. We cover those commitments as well as talk about who we are and why we do what we do. This class gives an overview to what our church is about so that people can make an informed decision about whether they want to join or not. The class is broken up into four sections:

  • Our Salvation--what Christ has done for us (including symbols of our salvation, Baptism & the Lord's Supper)
  • Our Statements--what we believe to be true (Our Faith Statement, Our Mission Statement, Our Core Values, Our Vision Statement)
  • Our Strategy--how we go about accomplishing the mission
  • Our Structure--how we organize to accomplish the mission
The first section is common to all believers everywhere, but the other three sections are what makes Pathway unique from all other local church families. It's what gives us our unique and distinctive flavor as a church. When someone commits to membership, we encourage them to go on to the next Journey Class.

Journey 201 Class
This class covers the Core Value of Real Spirituality--our vertical relationship with God. In this class, students learn the four basic habits that are necessary for spiritual growth. Since these are habits, they should be ongoing activities for our lives. The Journey Classes are not primarily about acquiring knowledge, but learning how to perpetually live out that knowledge in our lives in a continuing relationship with Jesus. The four habits are:
  • Prayer
  • Bible Learning (through Hearing, Reading, Studying, Meditating, Memorizing, and Applying)
  • Stewardship
  • Fellowship (including getting connected to a small group)
The class is filled with practical advice about how to have a quiet time, how to get the most out of God's Word, how a small group can help us grow, and the emphasis that the Bible places on giving as an indicator of our spiritual maturity. When students commit to living out these habits, they can take the next class.

Journey 301 Class
This class covers how to discover your unique SHAPE that God has given to your life. He has made you the way you are for a purpose, and by understanding your SHAPE, you'll be in a position to live your life with maximum effectiveness. SHAPE stands for the five different components that make us who we are:
  • Spiritual Gifts
  • Heart
  • Abilities
  • Personality
  • Experiences
Each of those attributes of who we are are God-given and God-directed. In this class, we learn how to utilize all of them to be God-honoring. This class is great for gaining a better understanding of who you are and discerning God's thumbprint on your life. It will also help you find the ministry that is the right "fit" for your SHAPE. Providing loving service to others on a team of other like-minded servants is the main way we contribute to our Real Community, our horizontal relationship with one another. After taking this class, students fill out a SHAPE profile and meet with a SHAPE counselor to help determine the best ways that they can use their SHAPE for God's glory.

Journey 401 Class
The last class teaches people how to share their Real Story, the message of who God is and what he's done in our lives and in the world. We cover the basics of building relationships with unbelievers, how to treat them as people instead of projects, the five main components of the gospel message, and how to communicate that message in a clear and respectful way. We talk about the different styles of evangelism and how to find the style that best fits each person's SHAPE.

Even though we recognized our 401 alumni today, nobody ever "graduates" from the Journey Classes. In fact, students are encouraged to refer to their notebooks periodically and review the information they contain. Students are encouraged to re-attend the 101 Class periodically to remember the unique aspects of our church, and our vision to reach the 100,000 people in Jackson County with no church family.

These four classes represent the heart and soul of PCC--our philosophy, our theology, our culture, and our reason for being. They teach us how to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. We are always in process, we are always still growing. The four classes are not the end, but only the beginning of growing deeper and deeper in our pursuit of Jesus.

If you haven't taken the Journey Classes, I'd encourage you to get on board the next time they come around. If you have taken one or some, but got off-track somewhere, I'd encourage you to keep going! The Journey Classes provide us with the compass we need to keep pursuing Jesus on the Pathway of our spiritual journeys. To sign up for the Journey 201 Class on Oct. 19, click here.

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