Most people don’t spend time learning something simply just to know new information. More commonly we learn in context, paying attention to material that is relevant to our lives and our plans. Information without a reference point connection to real life isn’t of much use to anyone. In other words, most individuals favor just in time learning as opposed to just in case learning. That’s why Grow2Serve courses are designed not just to provide new information on general subjects such as ministry, culture, spiritual warfare, and sustainable lifestyle, but also provide a context connection for this new information. We work hard to help learners transform our course material into something meaningful and applicable to the specific ways which they live their lives, in the places where they minister and relate to others every day. A big part of how we accomplish this is through collaborative learning.
In Grow2Serve courses, we work hard to form a true online learning community where both facilitators and learners learn from each other. The veteran minister advises the younger from personal experience. And missionaries new to the field find encouragement from others in similar situations across the world. Course content is used to understand cultural experiences, and together the community makes meaning more specific through the activities learners participate in together.
Grow2Serve values the connections through which people from various mission organizations, those who never would have met under normal circumstances, form lasting relationships across boundaries of denomination, geography, and culture. In just this last year, we’ve seen participants from more than 50 different mission organizations meet in our online courses and engage in collaborative learning together – those who serve across the world, on different continents, in different countries, amongst different cultures. They come from rural places and from tribal terrains; from post-communist societies and from complex urban cultures; from Hindu religions and from Buddhist countries. What brings them together is that they are gathered around a particular topic which is important to each of them at the given moment. With a common need binding them, we see an almost immediate connect between participants. This opens the door to engaging and sincere conversation. Learners are exposed to ideas and concepts and asked to immediately apply those to their own lives, to their own contexts, needs and ministries. Some are further along on the journey and can share what they’ve already experienced. Some bring along information from their context that opens the eyes and expectations of others to new levels of understanding. Sometimes it’s just a word of encouragement, an acknowledgement that, Yeah, I’m struggling with that too. And it’s hard but just keep going because it is normal. This is not an insurmountable obstacle. It’s just hard, but you’ll get through it. When we bring people together in learning community in this way, we believe that it accelerates heart change, perspective change, and even skill change that in the end results in better ministry.