By: Von Clemans

PresidentsMessage_largeIn his classic book The Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says, “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”

Our calling as educators can lead us at times to focus on increasing the intelligence of those in our pews and classrooms. We also focus on building their gifts. But if the result is only surface change, we have missed out on the challenge to nurture the transformation of people at a deep and profound level—where God’s Spirit is shaping disciples to reshape the world.

In APCE’s 2015 annual event in Baltimore we proclaimed, Fear Not! This year in Chicago we proclaimed that God is doing a New Thing, See It, Hear It, Live It. Is this not the journey into deeper discipleship—leaving our fear behind and then putting our faith into action?

The current series of Advocate articles focus on spiritual practices–but not because we need another thing to do. We focus on spiritual practices because centuries of life as God’s people have shown that it takes practice and discipline to develop, in ourselves and in others, the deeper discipleship that makes deep people.

It will take deep people to address the challenges all around us–the decline of Christendom, changes in funding patterns for churches and religious organizations, the deterioration of the role of educator, popular culture that has little need for religion, political culture that forsakes the common good, not to mention global threats to human life. We are called to join in God’s work of bringing in the kingdom of God. God is with us, so we will not fear. God is already at work among us and bids us join in.

The spiritual practices of the church can help us develop the depth we need to see and hear God’s work and the courage to live it. So make use of them. Make them part of your inner life. God will use you in the transformation of your people and the world.

Von ClemansVon Clemans, current president of APCE, is a PC(USA) pastor/educator serving in adult educational ministries at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC, where he has been for over fifteen years. For over three decades he has helped congregations, educators, and pastors make appropriate use of technology in enhancing their ministry. He is married to Marion, a retired PC(USA) educator. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.