Thoughts on FOCUS Team 2003 (Part 2)

Gee. There are a lot of those "thoughts" on FOCUS Team this session. They are actually all about FOCUS Team, like my previous blog entry, which is actually about the personal follow-up course, and some challenge to myself. There are some other issues that goes around my little brain, but I have not yet full-compiled to give these feedbacks to Joshua. Anyway, here's more.

There are a lot of courses in FOCUS Team this session. Besides the usual trio, i.e. Personal Evangelism/2WTL, Personal Follow-Up and Growth Group, there are courses on using the evangelistic tools, i.e. Bible study booklets like "Investigating Christianity" and "Tough Questions". Well, we actually had that course for quite a few sessions already, and I remembered I did it when I was still in uni. We are also bringing back the Blue Print, the study on doctrine/systematic theology. Hmmm, also did that when I was back in uni, but we don't always have this course. Then there are two new courses - one group will be doing some biblical theology with Full of Promise as a guide, and we also have another group working on the believes of other religions. A kind of apologetic study, I guess.

We have a very good turn out on Wednesday, partly because it is week 1, and many people have nothing better to do. We have roughly 60 people squeezed in the smallish Quad G053, and Joshua gave a talk on the definition of "church"...

However, the challenge to me is, what is FOCUS Team for? Who should be coming to the FOCUS Team? What course should we run? Is it just another opportunity to do Bible study and acquire some head-knowledge? I guess it is good for me to just sit down and think about these questions. We have been running FOCUS Team for many years, but why? For what?

For myself, I see there is a distinction between the usually Friday/Sunday Bible study and FOCUS Team. From the FOCUS Team page on the FOCUS website, it states:

FOCUS Team is run for you to be trained in theology and skills for a lifetime of serving others, starting from UNSW.

I actually did not compile that page, but Charles from Pelita did. From the first look of it, it seems that the emphasis is on "theology" and "skills" because of the bold type fonts, but in fact the emphasis is on "serving others", as it is the goal we try to achieve. On the other hand, "theology" and "skills" are only two tools we have, and two components of the FOCUS Team.

However, it is not what's been happening to everyone. Maybe it is because most people here are university students. While they are eager to learn things, at the same time, they cannot get rid of this "passing the course" mentality. Many university students wanted to learn new tricks, but not many of them know why they want to learn it. Moreover, some people just want to "pass the course", and then proceed to the next level. It is particularly true in FOCUS Team - why do you come and learn to do 2 Ways to Live? Do you really seek it as an opportunity to equip yourself in ministry work, or do you just want to pass the course in order to study Personal Follow-Up next session?

You will see how it is true when you looked at the phenomenal in the FOCUS Team attendance. At the beginning of the session, a lot of people will come and turn up to the FOCUS Team - simply because their Bible study leaders encouraged them to go, or because their friends are all there. However, as the week number counts towards 14, you have less and less people each week coming to the courses. People simply are not motivated to continue with their course because their other commitments. Now, the problem arises when a new session starts and these people come back to do FOCUS Team again. Have they done the course from last session? Can you say that you have completed the 2 Ways to Live course if you pulled out on the 5th chapter, and have done only one or two practical training? Can you say that you have done the Personal Follow-Up course if you did not come to half the class, and have never really followed someone up? By the university standard, the answer will be a definite NO. How can a person pass a subject without taking the final exam, or finishing the end-of-session project? However, in FOCUS Team, we seem to let these kind of people through, and they get to do all the courses with virtually nothing under their belt. And what can you do with those people who seem to have finished all the required courses? We will then create more interesting courses to accommodate them. Has the goal of FOCUS Team achieved? Have they trained in theology and skill to serve the others? I doubt it...

Just some suggestion that I have w.r.t the FOCUS Team. I'll need to compile it properly and then send it to Josh, but I guess I can post some of my thoughts here first.

  • We need to ensure the commitment of those coming to the FOCUS Team. We have started doing that last year, when Joshua on the first week of FOCUS Team will challenge people to commit themselves to come all the weeks. It is probably better for them not to do the course at the first place than dropping out middle way through the session.

  • There should be a stricter pre-request entrance requirement for each course except 2WTL. We want to make sure that person has committed to finish the previous course before commencing on the next one. At the end we do want people to be trained in ministry.

  • Instead of providing new "head-knowledge" courses, why don't we get people to do 2WTL or Personal Follow-Up again? "Head-knowledge" courses are those without a practicing side of it, like "Full of Promise" or "Blue Print", where you just read through a book, doing all the studies, and then discuss with other people in the course. They are good studies to go through, but I failed to see why they need to be in FOCUS Team. These studies can be done either individually, in a small group during the week days, or on Friday night/Sunday morning Bible study groups. However, I see FOCUS Team is a place where people are trained to serve in ministry, then just another place you can do Bible study in groups.

    And I always find doing an old course again refreshing and beneficial. It is like people who studied MBA. Rarely people study in MBA right after they finished their bachelor course, but most students have several years of work experience. It is beneficial to them because their work experience can assist them to understand things better - a kind of understanding unachievable by fresh undergraduates. I've done 2WTL course a couple of times, and my practical experience of sharing gospel to the others have helped me to understand the course better in my second and third time doing it. It is never a waste of time doing the courses again.

    And another idea I have with people repeating the courses again is to have long termers learning how to teach a course. Unfortunately I never had this kind of privilege before Vivian and I started teaching 2WTL course last year, but it will be good if I can redo a course again knowing that I will teach it in the following session. So then I will pay more attention on how the course is taught. My idea is to have people who have done all the courses (most likely young-working long termers) to come back to teach some courses, so we can have fundamental courses (2WTL and Personal Follow Up) taught in different languages. It is just another step to turn the trainees to become trainers, instead of making them trainees another class higher...

Well. That's a lot of writing for the weekend. I shall stop here, and then go to sleep. Maybe there will be part 3 of my rants and raves.