At New Life City Church, we will continue the tradition, passed down for thousands of years, of training the whole person through the New Life Development Academy (NLDA). Through a deep, theological study and with practical applications, we will learn to apply God’s Word and impact our community. Each participant will choose one of four basic tracks, each of which will help to develop their purpose and calling – Teaching, Counseling, Mission/Evangelism, and Administration. It is my great joy to co-lead the Mission/Evangelism track with Gary McClintock.
Although the Development Academy is new to us, it is not new to those who have paved the way for us – the Jewish Rabbinic training. It was their custom to train the whole individual both practically and theologically. Their teachings were built on centuries of Jewish thought and tradition with the purpose of developing the mind as well as the heart. To see how they did this we need to look no further than Pastor Don Lewis’ January 9 sermon on Titus. We learned that the Apostle Paul was a student under a well-known and respected rabbi, Gamaliel. In the Rabbinic training, Jewish students, like Paul, lived in the homes of their teachers. These students learned theology from the Rabbi, but they also learned how to relate to the world and their community using Rabbinic thought in all areas of life. We see this same pattern repeated throughout church history.
We need good theology. However, theology is not enough. We need practical application and leadership development. Just like the age-old Jewish custom we need our community and mentors to help us process the theological concepts we are learning. When this happens, we can more effectively apply God’s Word to the world around us.
I think we live in the best age since creation. We have the benefit of knowing the Father through His Son. Jesus, while being fully God, walked on this earth. He lived, he taught, he died for us, and was resurrected. In the days of the Old Testament, they knew God through a limited lens with a limited knowledge of God. We are blessed to live in the days of Emmanuel, God with us. In knowing Jesus Christ, we clearly see God’s mission on the earth – Missio Dei (Latin for the Mission of God). In knowing the Son, we better understand the nature of God and how to live out the Kingdom of God on this earth and in this age. The Development Academy is one way to better understand Missio Dei, as well as our created purpose in the world around us.
God tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who accurately handles [explains] the word of truth.”