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“One of the great virtues of spontaneous voluntary expression is that, in the effort to express to another a truth which the speaker has found, he not only renews the past, but, especially in the early stages, he finds out his own ignorance of many aspects of his truth, and he is generally eager to learn, and to inquire further for himself. He searches diligently for answers to difficulties which arise. He is not an authorized and licensed preacher; he has no professional omniscience to maintain; he can and will confess ignorance and seek help. He is forced to think over and over again what are the implications of his truth; he has few ready-made stereotyped answers. As he goes on, no doubt, these tend to multiply, but they cannot multipy at first without much real experience. Thus the voluntary spontaneous expression of truth experienced strengthens and advances the speaker.” Roland Allen, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church

Its hard not to find grandeur in Allen’s many missiological muses. Late in a sleepless moment last night I came across this quote, he reminded me of those early years of my faith journey when it seemed like every conversation with a non-Christian lead me probably more than them to a new understanding and appreciation of my faith.

Allen’s principle is simple, your faith grows as you share it. I would add that it doesn’t grow apart from sharing it either. Part of the change we experience as Christians about two or three years into our discipleship is that we shift from growing our faith through sharing it with others to predominantly having our faith grown through classes either inside the church or some other forum like conferences. Mission, which used to be the catalyst for the majority of our faith’s growth gets displaced by re-socialization within the local church’s culture.

I’m not sure why this is a trend but it is, and this trend is probably no greater expressed than in the contemporary way we train ministers for the church – through rigorous education instead of rigorous mission.

My question –

Moving beyond a simple either or dichotomy as a solution (mission or education), can we in the church today do more to prepare our ministers and care for our own spiritual growth than we’ve been doing?

What about our current Sunday School modules and Seminary programs stand in need of change?