I think that if at the end of this discussion we only come up with, "We need to reform our Bible colleges and do it better," and "We need to change our churches and do it better," then in the end nothing will change very much. Guys, we aren't the first ones to see weaknesses in both Bible colleges and churches. People have been saying these things for years.
I think what is needed is a new model. Both for Bible college and for church. (Aaron understands new models for church!) I think we should start new churches that have in them a training (discipleship) program. In fact, I think that "program" might just be the way to start a new church. I wrote a lot about Jesus' model for discipleship in my blog, The Koffi House. I won't repeat it here in the comments of Aaron's blog, but you can check it out if you like. I do think that a good discipleship training program should have a major focus on our behavior, understanding and ability and a minor focus on academic knowledge, not the other way around.
Yes, we will always have our Christian liberal arts schools and other colleges that are progressing in that direction. Some may want to study theology and get their PhD's from those institutions. God bless them. We don't have to dismantle those things in order to start a new model. But what we are going for here is something that will...
- Be reproducible (meaning virtually every church could copy it).
- Demolish the clergy/laity distinction that is upheld by our current models of both church and Bible college.
- Be accessible to all kinds of Christians, in any location, who aren't quitting their jobs to go to Bible college.
- Train people to live, love and talk like Jesus, not like the Pharisees.
- Infiltrate non-Christian communities with our disciples (and disciplers) rather than isolate the disciples from the larger non-Christian community, only sending them on “forays” into that world.