The Learning Circle
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” – Mark 10:23
Jesus was a master teacher. One of the consistent patterns of Jesus’ teaching is that he seized on an experience, on a moment in time, and used it to illustrate deeper truth for his disciples. For instance, in Mark 10:17-22 we read the story of Jesus’ encounter with a rich man. But immediately after the encounter Jesus used the experience to teach his disciples some deeper truths about life in the Kingdom of God. He challenged them to learn, change and grow. Read it for yourself in Mark 10:17-31. Just click here.
This pattern of reflecting on key experiences in daily life is a powerful way to grow spiritually. Even though Jesus isn’t physically here to teach us, His Spirit – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding – IS within us to teach us, a gift given in our baptism.
The Learning Circle is a tool designed to engage us in this dynamic process of learning, changing and growing as the Spirit leads us. When we experience what seems to us to be a significant moment The Learning Circle invites us to move through these steps:
Observe: Think back on the experience. Play it back in your mind like a movie. What do you see? What do you notice?
Reflect: How did the experience impact you? What feelings did it evoke?
Discuss: Talk about the experience with a trusted, faithful friend. While this step can feel vulnerable it’s amazing how insight comes when we give voice to our experience and reflection.
Plan: What do you sense God calling you to do? How is God using the experience to challenge you to change? Develop a specific plan to take a first step or two.
Account: Because change is hard, share your plan with a trusted friend who can support you and hold you accountable to what you sense God calling you to do. This step dramatically increases the chances of your following through on your plan.
Act: Now follow through your plan. Take a step, trusting the Spirit to guide you and go with you.
Being a disciple, a follower of Jesus, is about learning, changing and growing. Used consistently The Learning Circle is a simple but powerful tool to help you in that process. But like any tool it only works if you pick it up and practice using it. So go ahead. Give it a try. Trust the Spirit to guide you and go with you!
Want a bit more clarity about The Learning Circle process? Watch this 5-minute video.
Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.