The course of Thursday nights

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been pretty enthusiastic about The Course of Your Life.

Perhaps you’re even a bit tired of seeing it advertised here in The Briefing—we’ve included it in every Briefing since the course was launched at the end of 2011. There hasn’t been any other Matthias Media resource that has been given that level of priority. Ever. (Even though we tend to get enthused about everything we publish.)

You can blame me for that, because it’s actually been my job to try to persuade you to give The Course of Your Life a try. But until recently, all my copywriting had a fairly major limitation: lack of personal experience. I was familiar with the course content, but I hadn’t yet used it in a group.

A couple of months ago, all that changed as my weekly Thursday night men’s Bible study group began The Course of Your Life.

Let me tell you how we’ve done it, because it’s worked really well, and many leaders are wrestling with the puzzle of how to fit the course sessions into a weekly home group schedule.

On the first Thursday evening we kicked off with Seminar 1, which oriented us to the whole course. Then for the next few weeks we alternated: one week we’d meet and do the next seminar, the next Thursday night we’d all meet together, then break into pairs and do the next one-to-one session.

This was a really helpful way to start the course, because it meant we didn’t have to arrange an extra time on top of our Thursday nights to do the one-to-ones, and the guys who are a bit organizationally-challenged just turned up and did them on the night.

But if we kept going doing seminars every second week, we would have lost momentum. So a few seminars in, our leader asked us to arrange another time to do our one-to-ones, and we started doing a new seminar every week rather than every fortnight. By this stage the guys were all feeling pretty comfortable about the one-to-ones, and they all seemed to continue at other times quite smoothly.

Regarding the intensive, we knew it was going to be a stretch to go away for a weekend together in the busy period at the end of the year. So our trusty leader came up with a method that really seems to have worked well: Intensive Part 1 (the recap) on Thursday night, followed by Parts 2 and 3 on Saturday evening after an early dinner together. Parts 4, 5 and 6 repeated that pattern the next week, so effectively we managed to do the whole intensive within about 10 days.

So what about our actual experience of the course as a group of middle-aged family men, in an upper-class suburb with mortgages and demanding jobs?

The big thing I noticed was the tension in the air as we progressively unpacked the reality of the radical nature of  Christian discipleship. As one guy quipped to me, it was “perhaps the same tension a camel feels as it squeezes through the eye of a needle”.

But then it became exciting as we began to grasp and talk through how we can all align our lives to God’s wonderful agenda and purpose. It’s going to be terrific to pray for each other and spur each other on as we do that over the coming months.

I’m now more convinced than ever that the adjective I’ve been using in some of the advertising—“life-changing”—is not mere advertising fluff, it is profoundly true.

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