Ordered learning and equipping leaders identifies need to reach more people
Posted by Megan Wahl | Published June 21, 2017
This spring has been a time of growth in spiritual maturity for many of us in the Des Moines cluster of Ames-Des Moines CityChurch. That growth is attributed to the ordered learning classes that have been offered as part of the Antioch School leadership series to the Des Moines cluster and many of its cohorts on Thursday nights. What began several years ago as two classes or one large class has grown to nearly 25 people in four classes.
During the spring, four classes were offered: two BILD Leadership Series courses (Acts, and Habits of the Heart) and two First Principles studies (Becoming a Disciple and Laying Solid Foundations in the Gospel). These classes were offered based on the development path of our cohort churches, as well as introducing the basics to those new to taking courses.
James Riley, with the Union Park Church in Des Moines, said it’s important for everyone to be on a path to maturity. “In my experience, [most churches] typically have the same problem,” he said. “They need a solid, complete, ordered learning process and do not have a good way to bring their people to maturity.” James recalls being involved in a church in Des Moines and teaching Sunday school for adults. He said that most people would tell you they did not feel confident or able to explain what the Bible says, nor how to interpret it. “A lot of churches will tell you there is a lack of solidly trained leaders to help lead, and my hope is we can be a partner and asset to these churches to help mature and establish their people.”
One such church we have partnered with is our cohort CrossWay Community Church in Altoona. Pastor Barron Geiger has been involved in Thursday night ordered learning for almost four years. He said that in late 2011, he began searching for discipleship ideas and materials for his church family. “I called BILD and they connected me with Michael Vos, since he lived in Altoona at that time,” Barron said. “We met for coffee and he began to share with me the BILD paradigm.” About a year later, they began to discuss the idea of starting a Des Moines Antioch School, and then in June 2013, they began meeting Thursday nights at CrossWay’s office conference room.
Barron said the time on Thursday nights has had an invaluable impact on his own understanding of the Christian family, the church as a family of families, and the church’s mission in the world. As a part of his development path, Barron was taking Habits of the Heart and was challenged by the materials. “We have begun to create a list of Biblical habits that all Christians should pursue,” he said. “For me particularly, I have been challenged to develop the habit of reading, not only to grow spiritually, but also to broaden my personal perspective and my understanding of the world around me.”
Another CrossWay member, Micah Meyer, has also found Habits of the Heart challenging, in the sense that he’s looking at his own habits and teaching. He wants to grow in the orientations and habits necessary to live and teach sound doctrine. “I’m prioritizing leadership training in our church so that the rest of the leaders have similar priorities for their habits in their lives and teaching,” he said. Barron echoes that sentiment as the Antioch School has given him the opportunity to train potential leaders while they continue to serve in the context of his local church family.
Thursday nights have had a huge impact on equipping our cluster and cohorts in Biblical based teaching. It also identifies a great need in Des Moines of training leaders. James has a goal of partnering with as many churches as possible. And Barron sees the importance of that based on his own growth and development. “The Thursday night cohort has been an incredible blessing to me as a believer and as a leader in the church, “ he said. “We have become a small family of friends, united in our mission to raise up a generation of leaders committed to seeing the gospel proclaimed and great numbers of churches planted in the Des Moines area.”