Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Windy woods, the miracle market, and making disciples

Even though I lived there for a little less than a year - and about a decade ago - my mind often goes back to the time I spent in Sofarawayistan. It's not that I loved it or flourished there, but it was such an unusual and intense time of my life that it left indelible marks and memories.

The shady, somewhat public hazelnut orchard near our new house somehow evokes bog shamol ("windy woods" or "breezy park"), the pretty, shady place where friends in Sofarawayistan would retreat for a picnic - especially on a hot summer day. I need to ask a few more questions about the orchard. As in Sofarawayistan, my new hometown has somewhat vague boundaries for private and public. But I think I'd find the soft dirt will be easier on my joints for jogging than the neighborhood streets would be, and it lends itself to "laps."

Independent businesses flourish in my new hometown. One is a home improvement store called Jerry's. Don't go in if you aren't prepared to come home with things that weren't on your list. Reminds me of the hardware bazaar I used to walk past in Sofarawayistan. It was a man's place, there; I couldn't browse too long or often without drawing too much attention. But every corner offered a sense of possibility. You could fix or make anything with what you found at the hardware bazaar. I wonder how many guys could accurately identify what it all was? Someone once told me that the Russian name for that place translated "The Miracle Market." Does Jerry's hold the same promise for the handy handyman (or woman)?

The language of Sofarawayistan tended - tends - toward economy. Despite a long history of complex and gorgeous poetry, most of the time ordinary people in ordinary situations tend to use the simplest words available. Helpful for a beginning language learner.

Maybe that's how the word usta came to be used both for a handyman - the kind of guy who would shop at the hardware bazaar - and for someone who serves as a teacher or master. The first is a master of a trade, the second, the master of a body of knowledge. The same language describes someone who served as an apprentice to a trade and mastered it, and someone who was discipled and now makes disciples.

I like it. And shouldn't making disciples be like taking on apprentices and training them toward mastery and to make disciples of their own?

Gaining traction in ministry circles are variations on an approach called "T4T," training for trainers. Lots of people like to think they are being strategic by training up the next generation of leaders. Many mission agencies advertise themselves as focusing on church planting and leadership development. T4T challenges or focuses that kind of thinking. They don't try to train leaders. They train trainers. No one's a leader. Everyone is seem through the lens of their capacity to equip others. I'm not sure if that's an over-correction. It may be. Perhaps it's just a more disciplined, results-oriented way to look at the work of making disciples.   

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