Tests are fun! (Aren’t they?)

When I was in third grade, before I took my first Iowa Basic test, I remember my teacher giving us a pep talk about the test. Besides the instructions about using our sharpened number two pencils to completely color the A, B, C or D circles, and erasing completely if we decided to change our answer, I’ll always remember her telling us that tests were fun.

I bought her pitch – hook, line and sinker. I loved standardized tests, and though I was never a brilliant student (hated sitting in class), I usually tested well. Tests were fun!

Not long ago, my husband and I took an on-line theology quiz entitled “What’s Your Theological Worldview”? (Bill, the leading theologian in my life, pointed out that the quiz-maker’s biases and pet issues appear to be pretty obvious judging from the wording of some of the questions.)

In case you’re wondering, I’ll tell you how I scored at the end of this blog entry*.

But first, a thought about a different kind of test. Today after church, there was a brief meeting about a new partnership between the congregation and a sister school and church in Africa. We were told this isn’t about going in there and doing projects. In fact, the people in charge of facilitating this partnership strongly cautioned the church away from doing projects, recommending instead our role is to form relationships and to learn.

I’ve served on missions committees before, even putting together some short-term missions trips – and years ago, met Bill at a church formed out of a missions training program. I’ve known lots and lots of cross-cultural missionaries, lifers. The thinking in my life, once upon a time, was that the Great Commission meant “doing missions”. “Doing missions” was an acid test of spiritual committment among some of the people I’ve known. And though “doing missions” tends to patronize people and turns them into projects, that very American (and non-Biblical) thinking runs deep in us evangelicals.

Though I am not that person anymore, I realize that the real test of the Great Commission in my life might be the Great Commandment: to love God, heartsoulmindstrength – and to love others. In relationship, learning. The test doesn’t come in setting and achieving measurable ministry goals.

It comes in washing someone else’s feet, and allowing them to wash mine.

* Theological worldview quiz results:
89% Wesleyan/Holiness
79% Emergent/Postmodern
79% Fundamentalist
79% Charismatic/Pentecostal
75% Neo-orthodox
How someone can be equally emergent, fundamentalist and charismatic is beyond me. Maybe I need medication for this…

About Michelle Van Loon
  • Eric Nygren

    The worldview “test” was interesting, where did it come from? The wording sure skews the way you answer.

    About the rest of the post…hmmm…you sure know how to get people thinking. I’m taking what you’ve said and trying to see how it fits in my mind with what it means to “make disciples.” Those two words have been understood in so many different ways over the years.

    * Reformed Evangelical 86%
    Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 75%
    Neo orthodox 64%
    Fundamentalist 50%
    Emergent/Postmodern 50%
    Charismatic/Pentecostal 39%
    Classical Liberal 29%
    Roman Catholic 14%
    Modern Liberal 7%

  • Michelle Van Loon

    You’re right about the wording skewing the answers on the quiz. Bill noticed the same thing. It was fun to take the test, however. Did you feel like the results were in any way accurate for you?

    As far as your question about discipleship – that’s book-worthy, isn’t it? Definitely more than a blog can cover.

    I am all for going into the world and making disciples. That is loving God and loving other people, isn’t it? However, discipleship seems to be more related to making a friend (in the same way Jesus called his disciples friends) than it is to exerting power over another person or trying to sell them the gospel. And at the same time, this friendship means intensely focusing on magnifying Christ in everything I say and do (friendship with Him). My spiritual friendships with other people mean I must love them with my words and my actions, without a false agenda, but with the desire for both them and myself to follow Christ wholeheartedly and to “flee from the wrath to come”. It is a shift in thinking – away from patronizing people – but not in God’s mandate to love Him, love others, and, as a result, make disciples.

    In your church community, how do you encourage people to be and make disciples?

  • Eric Nygren

    I would say that the quiz results were somewhat accurate. I agree with the Reformed designation, but Wesleyan? Like you said, how can you be both?

    When I think discipleship I can’t help but think about Robert Coleman’s works. I cut my teeth on Master Plan of Evangelism. It still shapes my view for the most part.

    As I think about what you said my first thought is that you are on to something by saying discipleship is related to making a friend. However, I think of it of in terms of helping people to become friends of Jesus (and any friend of Jesus is a friend of mind).

    It makes me think of another often abused word: fellowship. I remind my people all the time that the fellowship we share as fellow believers is due to the fact that we are all one in his body. It is in that context of fellowship that we help to make one another into Jesus’ disciples.

    Beyond that we are to be actively involved in making “new” disciples. These are the people we already have relationships with but almost never think about showing Christ to in our daily lives. We try to talk about more than just hoping that these folks show up at our church (although we wouldn’t mind that), but that they need to see our faith lived out.

    Wow did I just ramble or what.

  • Michelle Van Loon

    No, you didn’t ramble at all. I think you’re trying to figure out how to walk out what it means to make disciples. In 2008, in your context, what does that look like? Does it mean growing your church? Does it mean coaching individuals in your congregation toward deeper growth in the spiritual disciplines so that they’ll be more equipped to minister to their “congregation” (the people who populate their Monday-Saturday lives)? Is it a churchful of people engaged in acts of service and mercy – as love-motivated witnesses? Or…???

    P.S. – I actually think your theological score seemed pretty accurate for you.

  • Billy Kangas

    Hey there,
    I noticed your post on Jesus Creed about coffees you enjoyed so I came over here to see what you were up to. I’m always looking for people with interests in God and in Coffee.

    I work primarily in the church, but I moonlight at a coffee shop or two and have a pretty healthy obsession with the black stuff. I’m curious as to how you get your coffee.

    I write about coffee at http://billykangas.blogspot.com
    I write about God at http://orant.blogspot.com

    I’d be really interested in what you’d have to say on both!
    Thanks.
    -Billy Kangas

  • Michelle Van Loon

    God and coffee. That’s my writing life. :)

    I visited both of your blogs – and am really intereseted in the community you’re creating on Friday nights. I’ll be bookmarking the sites.

    Where do I get my coffee. Fallback coffee comes from St. Arbucks. The church we’re attending occasionally sells Rwandan fair trade coffee, and we’ve liked that. Our favorite is Chicago’s own Intelligentsia. Oh, and I occasionally buy Peets. And when I visit Trader Joe’s, I get some New Mexico Pinon Coffee, which is as close to flavored coffee as I’ll drink.


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