Considering a five-stage schema for planning training in various disciplines

Building from the last post about conscious competence, a few words about another educational model. In 1980 brothers Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus were researching how to best train Air Force pilots. In the course of this study, they developed a “five-stage model of the mental activities involved in directed skill acquisition.” Thanks to the miracle of the internet, you can download their original report in all its typewritten glory. The Dreyfus brothers propose that as a student acquires a new skill through formal instruction and practice he must pass through five stages: 1. Novice Lacking experience, the student is taught to recognize certain features of an environment. He is then given rules for deciding how to act in response to those features. He doesn’t understand what is going on, per se, but he can follow the steps he’s been taught. The stage is characterized by rigidly adhering to the rules and not exercising discretionary judgment. 2. Competence One moves

from the novice stage to competence after considerable experience in real situations with an instructor pointing our recurring patterns. The student begins to understand better the context and meaning of the rules he’d previously been taught. Still, all aspects of the work are treated separately with equal importance. 3. Proficiency With increased practice, the student is now able to view the whole situation in connection to long-term goals, and various aspects of the situation become more or less important depending on their relevance to the goal. He is now in a position to judge which steps are more or less relevant to this particular situation, and deliberately plan based on the specific situation. 4. Expertise Up to this point, students have relied on rules to know how to connect what is generally true to their specific situation. But an expert, relying on a great deal of experience, is in a position where the response to each specific situation is customized and…

The four levels of competence in theological education

Working on curricular design the last few months, I've been reading a lot of educational theory. Since it's a literature that's new to me, I find myself newly impressed by some old concepts. One of these is the “conscious competence” learning model. Developed in the 1970s by Noel Burch (though the roots are probably earlier), the model describes four stages on the way to competence in a new skill. There’s more to theological education than competencies – like intellect, heart, and character – but we're also teaching skills. And these four stages, developed in a secular context, prove helpful in thinking about the skills developed in theological education, especially understanding and communicating Scripture.  So for example, here are the four stages in relation to biblical exegesis: 1. Unconscious Incompetence The student doesn’t know how to do something, but doesn’t recognize that he doesn’t know it. Maybe he's never heard of biblical exegesis. Maybe he thinks exegesis is busywork and unnecessary for real life and ministry. Or maybe he wrongly believes he already knows how to do exegesis, when in fact he doesn't.

Before he can move to the next stage, he needs to recognize his incompetence and the value of the new skill. 2. Conscious Incompetence The student still doesn’t know how to do something, but he does recognize the deficit and the value of the new skill in addressing the deficit. So even though he doesn’t know how to do exegesis, he’s come to see it as an essential skill for ministry, a skill he currently lacks, so is motivated to advance his knowledge and make the kind of mistakes one needs to learn.  3. Conscious Competence The student understands or knows how to do something, but with concentration. To do exegesis, he has been taught a series of steps, and he is able to carefully follow them, often checking the list to make sure all the steps have been handled. Much of his thinking along the way is about the process he needs to…

What kind of leader do urban churches in the 10-40 Window need?

As we train pastors, we need to know what we're trying to do before we can do it very well. A couple weeks ago I shared some thoughts on the ideal church in our urban 10-40 Window context. The logical next question is "what kind of leader is needed for this kind of church?" Or, "what is an ideal pastor?" A Christian: An ideal pastor is first of all a Christian; he has himself believed and been transformed by the power of the gospel, and is continuing to grow in his Christian maturity and ongoing repentance. He displays the fruit of the spirit. He is a man of prayer. He is not a recent convert; he is among the most spiritually mature men of the congregation. He is passionate to know God and make him known. Committed to the Local Church: An ideal pastor loves the local church, serves the local church, and embraces the biblical priority of the local church in God’s mission.

He does not view ministry in the church as in any way inferior to other ministries one might do but is instead eager to invest his life as an under-shepherd of God’s people. Exemplary Character: An ideal pastor is holy and above reproach - he has a reputation that is a credit to the church, there is no valid accusation of wrongdoing that can be made against him. He is upright - he keeps his word; he can be counted on to make wise, fair, righteous judgments for the church. He is sober-minded and not arrogant - level-headed, restrained in his conduct, able to think clearly; humble, listens to others, accepts criticism and counsel, and is considerate. He is disciplined, self-controlled, and not a drunkard - keeping his physical desires in check by consistent self-restraint; does not engage in any activity to excess and is disciplined in his pursuit of spiritual things. He is not violent, but gentle…

How we lost exegetical logic and why we need it back.

Last week I mentioned "exegetical logic" as central to church ministry. Someone asked what I meant, so an explanatory word. When I say "exegetical logic," I'm talking about a way of using Scripture our fathers assumed but we have to explicate because of certain cultural trends: The abridgment of everything: We skim headlines and share 140-character snippets. Published books are the length newspaper articles used to be. Sprinting, we're not interested in the lines above the bottom one. Unwillingness to think: We are lazy. There is always a YouTube meme to distract. With a smartphone in every hand, thinking hard is passé. The exaltation of personality: Being lonely, we are attracted to personalities who seem cool to have a beer with. In a celebrity/social media culture, we follow leaders less for the quality of their ideas and more on the stickiness of their persona. The balancing impulse: Our beliefs in fairness and equality are so deeply ingrained that we find them

where we should not. The spirit of the age is, "you have some verses, he has some verses, let's agree to disagree." Ungodly humility: We are pressured to be uncertain, conditioned to believe that to claim a proposition as true and more reasonable than the alternative is an exercise of privilege or insensitive to someone's needs. These factors and more create a climate where we don't debate the reasons for ideas, to our great detriment. The solution is exegetical logic: an approach to talking about life, ministry, and ethics driven by interaction and debate about specific Biblical texts and their meaning. Exegetical logic means sharing not only the fruit of your exegetical process but how you reason your way from that text to get there. Some arguments are objectively better than others. The difference between Ruth's Chris and Sizzler is not in the eye of the beholder. Christians, we need exegetical logic. We need it in our sermons, in…

What would an ideal church look like in cities of the 10-40 window?

Woe to us if we are going to labor in global church planting, in training leaders for the church, and in ministering to the church, without asking the question "what would an ideal church be?" Of course there is no actual ideal church. But what are we aiming at? The impossibility of perfection must not stop the productivity of direction. The definition of an ideal church (IC) will vary from one place to another. But, thinking of the kind of urban, 10-40 Window, context in which I live, here's my best start. The ideal church (IC) in this region is: Explicitly Biblical: Based on the conviction that there is one God and he has spoken in his word, the IC submits to the authority of Scripture with explicit exegetical logic (NOT assumed validity, or proof-texting) driving every facet of the ministry philosophy, ministry vision, and ministry practice. Gospel-Centered: The exegetical logic of the IC effects a

focus on God’s plan of redemption culminating in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The IC avoids the errors of legalism and license with gospel-centered teaching and discipleship. Purposefully Urban: The IC embraces the opportunities and limitations presented by its urban setting. The IC looks like the city; it is as multi-cultural as its community. The IC finds ways to serve a population that is culturally and socioeconomically diverse, busy with work and other activities, and geographically dispersed around an urban center. Internally Healthy: The IC has the characteristics of a healthy church. As summarized by Mark Dever: 1) Expositional Preaching, 2) Biblical Theology, 3) The Gospel, 4) A Biblical Understanding of Conversion, 5) A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism, 6) A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership, 7) Biblical Church Discipline, 8) A Concern for Discipleship and Growth, 9) Biblical Church Leadership. Externally Engaged: While diligent about church health, teaching, and discipleship (see above), the IC cannot be accused of being “internally-focused.” The IC faithfully…

Believing the gospel, obeying the Savior, discipling the world, for the glory of God.

What are the goals of a church (any church)? What’s the ministry of that church seeking to accomplish in the lives of people? Here’s my answer: believing the gospel, obeying the Savior, discipling the world, for the glory of God You can get here pretty easily from the Great Commission (Mat 28:18-20): “Disciples… baptizing” → requires believing the gospel. “Obey all I commanded” → obeying the Savior. “Make disciples of all nations… teaching” → discipling the world Baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” → in other words, ministry is in and through and for the glory of the triune God. Looking at the big picture of Scripture, Jesus doesn’t highlight these goals in an isolated way, but as a summary of what all Scripture calls God’s people to. So how does this look in a church? Believing the gospel Without Christ, all people, as sinners, are in the desperate

situation of facing God’s just wrath (Rom 5:12; 3:23). But the amazing truth of the gospel is that God has sent his Son Jesus to deliver sinners. Only Jesus can rescue us, and he does it by taking God’s wrath on himself, dying in our place, and rising from the dead. The sins that should have condemned us, God laid on Jesus. So, the amazing exchange: Jesus endured what we deserved so that we might enjoy what he deserved: eternal life. We access this life by believing the gospel, which involves understanding these truths, turning away from sin, and trusting in Jesus as the one way of salvation (John 6:47, Luke 8:12, 2 Cor 5:21). Guiding people to belief in the gospel is the goal of all a church is and does. A church calls non‐Christians to believe and be saved. But a church must also emphasize believing the gospel to Christians. Why? Because even after saving us, the gospel is…