Maturing leaders through lifelong learning
Posted by Megan Wahl | Published June 15, 2017
The Des Moines cluster of Ames-Des Moines CityChurch has embraced a unique opportunity in its offering of ordered learning classes. What began five years ago with Des Moines church leaders plus a couple leaders from Crossway Community Church in Altoona has expanded to include emerging leaders from the CityChurch network, leaders’ wives, and even some teenagers.
James Riley from the Union Park Church has been involved from the beginning and said while initially two classes or one large class had been offered, last year wives were invited to join the Shepherding and Counseling course. “It was very fruitful and we have included the wives ever since,” he said, adding that his hope is for the time to also include many other church partners from the Des Moines area. “I want to continue my maturing process, get those in our churches mature, and to help other churches mature their people as well.”
Even with more people taking classes, the goal is still the same: establishing believers. “The ordered learning process is one of the biggest components of the establishing process,” James said. “It is the way in which the Des Moines cluster is going to verify and approve the members who will be leading and shepherding our churches.” The process follows Paul’s model described in the book of Acts, and in some of the letters to the churches and his two young leaders. “We want our leaders to show competency around God’s word and His principles so we are using the ordered learning process to be the engine in which all of us participate in either taking these courses or teaching them,” he said.
This spring, four BILD courses were offered: Acts, Habits of the Heart, and two First Principle classes – Becoming a Disciple (book One, Series I) and Laying Solid Foundations in the Gospel (book 3, Series III), James said the intention is to create a time for learning and establishment of those people that are in our churches and have partnered with us in working on a lifetime of learning. “We want all the leaders in the Des Moines church cluster to be involved as this is how we get our leaders trained,” he said, adding that the work that is done is helping to mature all those who participate, and are becoming tools to use to teach and help our churches.
Of those four classes, there are 23 people involved from Huxley, Urbandale and Union Park churches, and partner churches in the Des Moines area. James has been encouraged by the participation from so many and never would have imagined that more than 20 people would show up with four classes kicking off at once. “I remember thinking the first night we launched, how are we going to combine these courses into one, as we may not have enough people to take all the classes, and then people just kept coming into the building, and next thing I knew we had 23 people there!” he said.
In addition to establishing those of us in the CityChurch network and partnering churches in the Des Moines area, our Thursday nights are also a time, as James says, to be a safe place to wrestle with some big issues and build relationships. “Since the beginning five years ago, we always tried to make the time relational,” he said. “We start with some pizza or some sort of snack and spend the first 30 minutes just being with each other – sharing life and our week.” We’re then dismissed into classes for about an hour and a half, and then meet again together at the end to share prayer concerns and praises. James continues to be encouraged by the participation, and said, “I believe this reflects that our church culture is one that puts an enormous amount of emphasis and importance on lifelong learning and establishing our lives in God’s principles.”