A quick disclaimer. I’m posting this in rough draft form because I want to secure a “June” spot in my archives. I haven’t been able to post as frequently as I would like because of current school and work commitments. I pray you will be merciful, and that God will grant you understanding that can only come from Him, as my words, even when properly edited, are often a mess.
I’m not one for jumping on the politically correct bandwagon. I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. Until recently, it’s all been good. But not anymore.
Today, words that have traditionally conveyed one meaning have become meaningless.
Take the phrase Bible study, for example. For hundreds—dare I say thousands—of years this simple phrase meant exactly what it said. It meant that people came together to read and discuss the Bible.
Sometime in the past 43 years (although I cannot pinpoint when exactly, I know it was during the past 43 years, because it happened during my lifetime) Bible study became synonymous with small group study, book study, and even Christian video series study. I probably wouldn’t care about this change, except I am finding it increasingly difficult to explain myself when I talk about Bible studies and small-group discipleship. For this reason, I have adopted the phrase: Discipleship Learning Community. DLC for short.
As a quick aside, I thought I coined the phrase Discipleship Learning Community, but a quick Google search revealed that I did not. Regardless, it isn’t used much outside of missions. I’m not exactly sure what it means within missions, but if it is anything close to a small group of people coming together to intentionally focus on making disciples, then missions can continue to use the phrase with my added blessing.
I am fond of the phrase, Discipleship Learning Community, because it means what it says. And guess what? I plan on starting a Discipleship Learning Community. My hope is that it will self-replicate and multiply.
I want to share the developmental process with you on my blog, but as I type this, it occurs to me that you might want to join me in hosting your own DLC. I wonder, could we use this blog to share our ideas? Is it possible we could create a virtual DLC to provide support for each other as we work on developing a location-based DLC? The idea excites me, and I am encouraged by what I perceive to be an expansion of God’s plan.
While you consider these things, let me briefly share one approach to instructional design that I plan to use during the development phase. It is called, Understanding by Design (you guessed it—UbD, with a lower case ‘b’).
Understanding by Design is a tool used for educational planning that focuses on “teaching for understanding.” Quite a bit has been written about UbD. Grant P. Wiggens and Jay McTighe co-authored the book Understanding by Design in 1998. You can order it here if you are interested.
UbD has two components that I plan to utilize. The first, is its backwards approach to instruction. UbD says that we should start with the course learning objectives in mind before we begin designing lesson plans. For Christians, the main objective is a given: we are to obey the commands of Jesus and teach others to do the same.
The second component is related to the first, in that it says we can explore our course objectives by creating big idea questions. For example, if we were doing a unit on the Civil War, a big idea question might ask, Why does war happen? I have come up with two big idea questions for my Discipleship Learning Community:
- What is discipleship?
- How are disciples made?
What do you think of these big idea questions? Have you considered starting your own Discipleship Learning Community? Would you consider creating an online community with me to share our experiences related to DLCs?