The authentic church takes seriously that we are called to be committed servant leaders in the world and will provide an “alternative seminary” for the training of such leaders. Utilizing a serious, in depth, “whole life curriculum,” we will stretch our minds and our souls as we read, respond to, research and put into practice both classic and new theological, psychological and social/political themes. We will explore what it means to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, striving to live the Christ life as consciously and Intentionally as we can.
This seminary experience will include classes in theology and scripture, prayer, community, etc., much as our School of Christian Living did in the past. In addition, the seminary will offer life management curricula, guiding us in such issues as money management, addictions, emotional trauma, domestic abuse anything that keeps us from becoming the free and loving people that God intends.
Working with a sponsor over a period of time—possibly as long as a year or two an array of spiritual and theological themes will be explored, as well as themes tailored to particular life circumstances. For example, if we have financial debt that is creating anxiety, our sponsor might go with us to a financial counselor or Debtors Anonymous or a jobs or economic program, where we can begin to make more informed choices about our financial life.
Perhaps our sponsor will suggest that we see a professional counselor to work with the emotional issues of abandonment or incest or violence that keep us in despair. Whatever blocks us, whether material, emotional or spiritual, from receiving God’s intimate love and from being available to be used as a catalyst for redemption in our world, will be addressed in this relationship with a sponsor.
Eventually, when we who have been “working our program” discern with our sponsor’s guidance that we are prepared and called, we will present to the group a culminating project; an integrated life spiritual autobiography of sorts. We then will become available to serve as sponsors for others. Or perhaps, together with two or three other members who are ready, we will form a new group, welcoming people who are our “opposites” and who hunger for personal and cultural transformation.
And so, like a stone tossed into the water, the ripples of our deepening life together expand and extend to others. The relationship between a sponsor and the one being sponsored is not about an “insider” instructing and preparing an “outsider.” It is not for the purpose of fulfilling a list of requirements in order to become a real member of the church.
The relationship between sponsor and sponsored allows both to experience the fullness of what it means to belong to each other. As we are guided by the sponsor to face what has not yet been healed in our lives, all the residual damage of our years of cultural addiction, and as we are given help in working with these damaged parts of ourselves, we can begin to express the fuller gift of who we are.
Freed to love and serve and dream new dreams, our true selves emerge and we find a fuller belonging to the local community and the world community, These are the foundational life skills of the Christian faith and what it means to go deeper.