JPUSA Sees Community as Path to Deeper Spirituality

Post a Comment » Written on August 11th, 2008     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (August 11, 2008) – The Project 12 discipleship program offered by Jesus People USA Covenant Church gives participants the unique opportunity to deepen their spiritual lives by living communally.

“I think the strength of real discipleship is not just needing new information, but transformation that comes through relationships,” says Glenn Kaiser, one of the church’s pastors who helped create the program.

The 10-month Project 12 program includes in-depth biblical studies, history, theology, prayer and meditation, lectio divina, inner-city work with homeless families, and a two-week mission trip. The program has used books by N.T. Wright, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jean Vanier, and A.W. Tozer.

Only a couple of the courses are lecture-based. Most of them are in a question-and-answer format. “It’s talking and reasoning together,” Kaiser says.

Ultimately, it is the community based education that makes the program unique, Kaiser says. Students live among the other members of Jesus People (JPUSA), all of who live communally in the inner city of Chicago.

“It is like if you went to a Bible school and you were able to live with all your instructors.” Although classes are led by leaders from Jesus People, members of North Park Theological Seminary’s faculty also have taught.

Even the evaluation of students’ progress is rooted in community. No grades are given. Rather, leaders discuss with students how well they are doing.

The program was launched in 2006 after years of consideration. Kaiser would research discipleship programs as he traveled with one of his bands throughout the United States and Europe.

People from around the world have applied to be in the program. Applications are being accepted through September 1. Classes start September 20. Students can join the program at the beginning of any of the trimesters into which the program is divided. The $3,000 tuition includes room, board, and books.

Kaiser says anyone seeking to grow spiritually can benefit from the program. Some students return to their home church, others use it to prepare for the mission field, and others have elected to stay and live at the community.

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