I have noticed a trend, especially here in America, that has been bothering me for quite some time. I am not sure where it began, or why, but it seems to be here in full force. That trend is facilitation. A lot of what is to follow is based on observation and conversation with others. It is not at all scientific and some of your experiences may be different.
Most churches that I have attended and been a part of, even in passing, have had some sort of adult education. All of that education shared one thing in common….facilitators. I would like to propose a definition of facilitator form good old uncle Webster. “one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision”. I am familiar with the idea that by engaging in this activity the Holy Spirit has the ability to move and thus we are indeed taught. Let me ask though when was the last time that a group of people with a facilitator walked away from a Bible study with the same teaching? The Spirit is not going to lead us in divergent directions after all. Now facilitation can be a great thing as well, don’t get me wrong. For example, if discussing the consistent Biblical narrative of caring for the poor, a thing which we all agree is there, a facilitator can then help guide vastly divergent ideas and ways of accomplishing this. Where facilitation might be lacking however is if we are questioning if that is really the teaching of scripture in the first place.
I don’t see this as an either or type of scenario. There is a time and a place for everything. If a church has a Christianity 101 class for example, I speculate that requires a teacher. The purpose of the class is not to discuss what being a Christian is at a base level, it is to impart that knowledge. Same would be true of a confirmation class. That does not mean there is not questioning or some discussion, but it means that the primary purpose is to impart knowledge, not discuss knowledge already possessed. At the same time, if the church is having a class about the history of Christian development leading to the creeds, the same would be true. The primary purpose being to impart knowledge, not discuss knowledge already possessed. Likewise, if the church is having an advanced class on practical implementation of the teachings of the sermon on the mount, then, assuming all have read and are familiar with the teachings, a facilitator is in order so that the group can discern what is the best way to use the knowledge of the teachings is.
It seems to me that we have a desperate need for more who have the Spiritual Gift of teaching to be allowed to do so. Christian education in America is terrible in many areas. This is evident when you look at how few people know the theology of the church they belong to in general. It seems almost as if we are allowing facilitators to lead discussions about practical implementation of scriptural truth when we have not laid a groundwork of scriptural truth. There is certainly a need for both teaching and facilitating, it just seems like we, as Christians, are doing way too much of one and not nearly enough of the other.
This is meant to try and start a chat about this and see where it goes. As I said, these are my observations and as such are limited. Please, share yours and let’s have a chat.