By Marc Engelhardt –
In my last post, which you can find here, I brought up the idea of the Discipleship Triad. It’s a basic principle that once known makes hitting the basics of well-rounded discipleship easier. In future posts I will give examples of how it can be done. But first I would like to emphasis the importance of the triad for youth discipleship and catechesis.
(A quick aside: As a Christian of Lutheran flavoring, I have two general assumptions. First, believing Jesus is who he says is and trusting in his work as Savior is the only way a person is given forgiveness, righteousness, justification, and salvation. Second, the Holy Spirit is responsible for sanctification of the believer. Another assumption I have, which has nothing to do with being Christian, is that being allowed to write on this blog means that my first two assumptions are a given.)
The terms I personally use for the Discipleship Tiad are Foundation, Worldview, and Practice. Foundation is the Word, Worldview is the lense for life which the Foundation gives us, and Practice is the “so what” of living through that lense. If that doesn’t make sense now, it should make more sense after I give some examples in future posts.
The reason why I want to emphasize the importance of the Triad for teaching youth is because the age of information is already squatting down upon us and is nestling in its cheeks on the younger generations. We have so much information at our fingertips that it has caused information intake addiction. “Let me Google that for ya” isn’t just a snarky remark made to others when they ask what is an easily searchable question. It’s also a sign that we believe all information is easily accessible if one just knows the right order of words for the query.
Here’s another way to look at it: I don’t know my parents’ phone numbers. I don’t need to because the numbers are already in my phone. That phenomenon exists for information in general. Committing information to memory isn’t seen as being as important as learning how to access and use the information. I am not discounting the value of memorizing information, but today and for the foreseeable future, memorizing information is like exercise; it’s good for you, but most people can get through life pretty easily without it. You may not like that reality, but that’s the way it is right now.
Many catechesis programs for youth are grounded in memory work. Youth are required to memorize information and then regurgitate that information for a short period of time. It’s all Foundation. Foundation is great! It is the Foundation after all, but if our youth are getting mostly short-term Foundation acknowledgement alone, we are doing them a disservice and very possibly setting them up for difficulties in their faith as they grow up that they may not need to face. We need to do our best to have the youth ingest the information and become what they eat.
This is where Worldview comes into play. I like the term Worldview because it means how one views the world around oneself. It is based upon information but is also how incoming information is filtered and processed once a Worldview is formed. Shaping the Worldview of our youth based upon the Foundation gives them a filter and lens for the information that is at their fingertips. It also gives them plausible alternative Worldviews to the ones they are being reinforced in school and by our culture, which means they will find those competing Worldviews less challenging. They will be able to take the information they are given to support those competing Worldviews and see how it fits fine into their Worldview which based upon the Foundation. The upcoming examples I will post will hopefully illustrate that a bit for you if it isn’t clear how now.
I find that I know I am hitting the Worldview aspect well with youth when they start asking how the Worldview—based upon the Foundation—affects situations they are dealing with in life. After that, they start to think about how the Worldview plays out in hypothetical situations they create, which isn’t always helpful to come to anything concrete, but certainly shows that the lens is being shaped by the Foundation. In other words, they start working out the Practice with me and on their own.
Shaping Worldview happens naturally through teaching and can happen by memorizing information. It’s not like this isn’t happening at all in catechesis in most churches. My emphasis here is that we intentionally do it the best we can so we can give our youth the apparatus (to borrow a term from the current educational structure which recognizes the age of information’s impact) to filter, understand, and use an internet-full amount of information according to the new life they have been given by Jesus and how God created the world to work.