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Learning Communities

The Twelve Together, a recently re-published book by Ralph Morton, explores the idea that the form of Jesus' earthly ministry was dictated not by some grand plan, but by the needs of the 'discipleship community' to learn and to grow collectively. That process happened by them acting through, and reflecting on, their everyday encounters.

The Total Ministry movement in USA (Local Shared Ministry in New Zealand) has developed the same concept. Local congregations are helped to call-out their ministry team from their own number, the Bishop licenses them as a team and then they begin a process of learning as they 'do' ministry together.

In our individualistic society and in a church which has seen the nurturing of faith as a personal and private matter, it is an undervalued learning process.

The principal features are:
  • Experience: The triggers for learning are the events which we are experiencing now, rather than an educational curriculum.
  • Memory: It is only our ability to hold the however-recent past in mind and bring it to bear on our present that allows us to learn, to advance, to understand, to converse.
  • Creative: One human mind wrestling with a problem is highly likely to go round in circles. Several minds, coming from different perspectives, bringing different experiences and gifts, multiplies the possibilities for creativity.
  • Open: Team learning in Local Shared Ministry is intended for the Team, but is always open to all other members of the congregation.
  • Assessment: Where learning happens collectively, in community, then assessment must too. "How has this community grown?" becomes the question, rather than who has passed the examination.

Building Kingdom-shaped communities
  © New Way of Being Church 2007