A Multimedia Curriculum for Groups
This DVD curriculum will broaden the horizons of most Christians. Too often we huddle together in churches where everyone thinks the same. We get comfortable. Richard J. Foster paints a broad landscape of Christian life and thought to help get us out of the spiritual rut into which most of us have fallen. Or, to use the metaphor Foster employs, he wants us to roll along on a well rounded wheel. Our life of faith is like a wheel with six different spokes. Each spoke is represented by one of the historical streams of Christianity: 1) the prayer filled life – Contemplative, 2) the virtuous life – Holiness, 3) the Spirit empowered life – Charismatic, 4) the compassionate life – Social Justice, 5) the Word-centered life – Evangelical, and 6) the sacramental life – Incarnational. Many of us are rolling along on pretty unbalanced wheels.
This is an important topic because Christians have become polarized in much the same way that political parties have become polarized. It’s easy to see someone who thinks differently than you as an enemy instead of a fellow traveler. Richard Foster interviews a leader from each tradition to help the student gain a better understanding of that spiritual tradition. He speaks with John Ortberg, Jack Hayford, Emilie Griffin, Juanita Rasmus, Glandion Carney, and James Bryan Smith. The interviews are enlightening and after each interview Foster is joined by Dallas Willard. Willard and Foster then discuss and analyze the importance to our Christian walk of what has just been shared in the interview.
No matter which tradition your church is in, expect that one or two of the interviews will get people very uncomfortable. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People won’t move or change without having some measure of discomfort. And, unfortunately—or maybe fortunately, Richard Foster adds to the discomfort by sporting a long braid. He explains that although he is from the Quaker tradition he decided to grow his hair out and wear it in a braid as a nod to his grandfather’s Native American heritage.
The curriculum pack comes with a very helpful leader’s guide, two participant guides, the DVD of the interviews, and a CD-Rom. The CD-Rom contains promotional materials, lesson outlines, and transcripts of the discussions between Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. One especially nice feature is that there are daily Bible readings for each week. This curriculum will work nicely in an adult growth class or Sunday school class, or in a small group setting.
I think this is an important curriculum. It certainly got our people thinking—and talking! Most importantly, this curriculum helped us to begin to recognize and value our brothers and sisters in Christ who make up the other streams of Christian life and practice. If you’re not ready for this curriculum you might try out the book, Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith, also by Richard Foster.