When Curriculum Attacks!

In a world replete with books, seminars, curriculums and classes designed to teach you how to have a relationship with God, why is it that so many people have a difficult time connecting? What if none of those things can provide a relationship with him, and in fact when we become more focused on a curriculum than we are responsive to him, they can actually be a detriment to our the very relationship we seek. Wayne responds to two emails that show the problems of trying to trust a curriculum to do, what only the Holy Spirit can do. Then he shares his current thoughts about how we can encourage and equip others to a relationship with God, without the message getting twisted into further expressions of human performance.

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  1. I know we’ve talked about this before. This is about “living” loved. This is about living this day to day – how can that be put into a package? The intricacies of our lives – the joys, the pains – are what causes us to grow. We can share those experiences and their results, but that can never be recreated in someone else’s life just by reading about them. They must be lived.

  2. That’s what I’ve come to discover. The curriculum is our unfolding lives and whatever we’re going through, coupled with what God wants us to see and know as we walk through it. Our task is to help people live there and recognize him, not to give them enough information that they don’t have to listen.

  3. Wow! Much of what you said today resonated with my 40 + year journey out of legalistic thinking, and the journey continues. Early in my journey I often thought that if I could just figure out how to live relationally with Father, I would have something wonderful to tell the world. I could have a nice little package that people could take into their lives without having to go through the tedious and sometimes painful journey that I was on. But now, years later, the dream of the “package” has faded because I have discovered that it is in the journey that the relationship grows. Your podcasts and books have been a great encouragement to me, and one of the things that I have so respected is your reluctance to put a package around a system, but to simply allow Father to do the nudging, and nurturing in His time and in His way. One thing I have discovered is that He is never in a hurry. In fact I sometimes wish He would hurry faster, speed up the process, be more efficient in this business of making me like Him and helping me understand just how loved I am. But that is the sort of thinking of which packages are made. Only Father knows the pace at which my spirit can take in the wonders of His love. His timing with the a-ha moments and the painful delays are perfectly suited to my growth which is itself very powerful evidence of His personal love for me. It really is Father’s business. Anything we try to do to help Him out for other people’s sake, will at some point simply become another human system.

  4. Go for it Wayne!!! Four years ago I too heard a God in me message that “changed” my life!!! Then I finally followed God’s nudge to continue to read The Shack (started reading it before I heard the message, but for some reason could not bring myself to continue at one point during the book). Then someone recommended He Loves Me, then I found Authentic Relationships and have listened to God Journey’s for the past 2 years while reading many of your other books!!! It has not been easy to dis-entangle myself from those old beliefs and find freedom!! still in the process, but your encouragement through your pod casts, blogs and books have definitely been a help!! I know most of them are “conversations” but I am thankful that I have been able to listen in on these conversations. They help remind me that I am not a “crazy” rebel, that there are others on this journey too. Thanks, and keep doing what you are doing!!!

  5. Thanks Wayne, This was a great podcast. I think the reason curriculums and “how to ” books don’t work for relationship with god , this is personal thing and god engages each one of us DIFFERENTLY
    WE need to find that on our own . “How to do” books have only discouraged me at best and frustrated me at worst, cause what they tell me maybe works for them doesn’t mean it’ll work for me.
    What you do in your teachings is, AWAKING the truth in people . This is very different then teaching How to have relationship with father, that only the father can teach

  6. Thanks Wayne. Once again, thought provoking conversation. I feel like what the podcast does for me is “tweaks” my thinking. Sometimes I relate completely to what you are saying, and other times I go “i haven’t thought of it that way.” But I always come away with a dose of joy and thankfulness for something God is working in my heart.
    Re: curriculum. One of the things that impressed me from So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore was observing how the John character came in and out of Jake’s life, obviously following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. When I first read the book, I was just starting to consider that maybe Christ really was the head of the church, and didn’t need all of our senses organizations and programs in order to reach mankind. It’s really a radical, revolutionary thought, and even seemed a little dangerous to me at the time.
    Right now my husband and I go to a spin-off group from the group we used to be with. He’s not ready to go “free range” yet, so I go to support him, basically. They are doing some great things, and I am learning some great things in the group. But boy do I have to bite my tongue as more and more structure & “curriculum” is gradually getting added on. It’s so tempting to try to tell them to stop, to warn them of the dangers. But God never pulls a rug out from under us when we’re not ready, so it has to be done on His timing and with love. So I just have to mind my own business and deal with the things I know He’s asking me to do now, which is plenty — ie that old beam that’s in my own eye. (I guess just the fact that I can refrain from telling them I think they are making a mistake shows some progress!)

  7. A big AMEN from me! How to’s, methods, ways, formulas – curriculum, are what keep believers from enjoying and growing in this relationship with the Father. Not only are these destructive to our personal growth in that relationship, but, also destructive in our growing up into Him in all things as the body of Christ. Like the experience of the sister you relayed in the podcast, curriculum not only becomes a replacement for the the relationship with God but also for the oneness with all the other members of the body. Rather than receiving and enjoying the relationship with one another based on our common fellowship with our Head, we become discerning and judgmental of others based on the acceptance and adherence to the curriculum. It’s what has created all the division in the church for the last 2,000 years.
    Thank you, Wayne, for being a voice to help others see this truth. And, thank you also for listening to the Holy Spirit’s nudging to keep you from creating a “ministry” to “help” others “learn how to” have this relationship. Keep sharing your vision. It helps all of us see more, too.

  8. Best podcast yet! Amazing and yes, again you put words to what I already felt in my heart. Awesome!

  9. Wow. First I want to join you in thanking God for Sara’s procedure. I am glad that you both have shared your lives with us who are part of the God Journey.

    The last three podcast have resonated with me almost to deep for words. Something stirs in me that I cannot express. My gifts are in speaking and teaching and over the years I have done less and less of what would be considered traditional teaching. There is a place for structured teaching but is a poor substitute for living in Christ.

    I love the history of the church and I think there is much to be gained from life lessons of those who have gone before us. The reality behind the exchanged life movement or teaching or whatever it is labeled, is a great way of thinking and helps in learning to walk with God in true freedom and grace. As a formula for how to do it… it fails as all substitutes fail.

    I have been in bi-vocational ministry all my life and now at 56 I feel that I should be doing something ministry-wise, full time. How and what that looks like I have no idea. Also like yourself I have puzzled and prayed over how to help others, and myself, live in Him without it become a religious mindset. How do I pass it on and help?

    So back to my first comment, wow. ….wow

  10. This podcast inspired me to write this (posted here http://love-god-love-others.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-relationship-is-freedom.html)
    You have to know the truth to be experientially set free. That is the only thing that works. Know the truth & live in freedom in a relationship with God.

    If you take the truth & use it to apply principles or as inspiration to keep rules you’ve missed freedom & the relationship. The freedom is the relationship. When you are set free you walk with God & whatever happens during that walk is unique to you & Him. Don’t try to apply truth to your life, instead walk out the discovery & usefulness of that truth with God.

    The line between dead religion & living in a relationship with God can be easy to cross. While you can teach people the truth about God’s love you cannot teach people how to lived loved in their relationship with God.

    You can be taught all about God but until you engage with Him, walk with Him, & hear the truth from Him what you hold as truth is nothing but a treadmill, a knowledge that gives you the illusion of walking in a relationship with Him. The treadmill will stop working for you in the right circumstances. When it stops working you’re left wondering what you did wrong & questioning your relationship with God. God was with you the whole time & getting involved in your life where He could even though you walked on a treadmill. The problem was that you were tiring yourself out & getting nowhere. You weren’t on a journey with Him, a journey where you walk, rest, & relate. The treadmill never stops & your beliefs set the constant speed but a journey with God is relaxing, fun, & includes rests.

    Jesus knew that everyone is different & that people would live in different times & in different places. That’s is one reason why He gave His Spirit. One size fits all at all times for all time instructions on living that work don’t exist. Jesus gave us His spirit to walk with us, relate to us, & teach us tailored to all of the uniqueness of who we are. God is love, His Spirit is love so He will always guide us in love. He is the living constant. He is the only universal ingredient in the Christian life. BECAUSE HE LIVES WITH US we can face anything. Not because He said.. or because you should.. but BECAUSE HE LIVES WITH US!

  11. Great talk, can’t help agree with the heart of this conversation. Yes, having something like transitions to come inside a theology is great and yes, everyone must find that quiet space with Father together. Interesting how teachers start out thinking about how they can share their revelation with the multitudes! Then to think about how Wayne finds joy in meeting people along the journey and helping them articulate something God is up to in a personal way in their lives.
    The ironic thing i find is that the message is about grace and intimacy in the fathers Love as his child. How can this be passed on? Obviously packaged teaching and some structures are not succeeding in helping others find their way in this relational message. I wonder if Jesus style, being fairly unstructured and spontaneous yet intentional with his small group of followers has something to teach us. It seemed he was happy to keep himself free enough to invest in the relationships that ‘the Father gave him’. Obviously we see Jesus speaking to the multitudes as well (and he wants to today as well), but again I wonder the miracle of multiplication of food was actually telling us how to multiply disciples. Dividing up the mega church into groups of 50’s and then getting his disciples to feed them. Keep it small seemed to be strategic in the feeding, then funny thing there was 12 baskets left over, was this just coincidence? I wonder also when at Pentecost where 3000 were added at the first preach and then another 5000 soon afterwards if the disciples wondered how they could feed them spiritually?, certainly they did physically. It seems to me that we should be aiming for smaller personal opportunities to invest into others rather than how we can mass produce disciples through curriculum’s etc. Just some thoughts to throw our there!!

  12. I’m fifty. I grew up going to (at the time) the largest southern baptist church in the US. Spent a lot of time after high school running from what I thought was god’s call on my life— to be a pastor. No way I wanted to do that. Still don’t. But god has shown me being a “pastor” could be totally different than the picture I had of it. I’ve also hung out in some of the charismatic streams of christianity. I used to look at kenneth copeland as a father of my faith. A couple of years ago I finished bible school at andrew wommack’s charis bible college jacksonville campus. Also been involved in a jewish roots/ one new man home church. I’ve never been involved in what would be called the “liberal theology” branch of christianity.
    A couple of years ago someone recommended SYDWTGTCA. That book led to your podcast, which led to the misunderstood god. That has become my favorite book. I like your stuff too, but, that book has really spoken to me and to quite a few people I’ve recommended it to.
    I said all that to say this– I am one of those people you were talking about that say the bible is irrelevant to my relationship with god. Even among the group of people I met at CBC Jax and hang out with and who call themselves the grace gang, that statement makes most of them uncomfortable. The bible no longer needs to be inerrant for me to have an awesome relationship with god. Yay. I’m learning to listen to the part of god that speaks through my heart. Do I miss it at times? Absolutely. Is it tough sometimes? Absolutely. Is it the most fun I’ve had in my life? ABSOLUTELY. I also feel much more comfortable with some liberal theology. At this point, I don’t feel like I need to read the bible but I hope one day god’ll lead me back to read and enjoy the bible.

  13. I listened to an old podcast of Darin Hufford’s recently and heard a quote that was alive to me. “Failure takes you to the center of your heart.” I have seen Abba reach me better through my failures than almost anything else. I think there needs to be a major change in our thinking about and approach to failure. It is a time to mine deep in the heart and establish new thinking that is grace focused like no other, not a time to hide or bury our heads in the sand. Maybe we need a regular dose of celebrating God’s work during times of failure?
    Another of Darin’s podcasts talked about being reluctant to speak the message of grace plainly. He said that if he wrote another book, he would intentionally make the message hard to understand, to keep from having people “get it” prematurely or only partially and then stop seeking. Jesus spoke in parables for a stated reason of NOT being understood and saved the plan stuff for small goups like Geoff said above. I am excited for your heart, Wayne, to find the ways to communicate and take advantage of technology in the meantime. I still think stories are a winner. I know “The Shack” started the ball rolling for me. Maybe there is some way for mentoring via skype like John mentored Jake in your book. How about read a story then get together to talk about it…? Repetition also seems to have been important to me. I had to read He Loves Me and the “jake book” so many times and it was different every time. I listened to Transitions three times over the course of two years…. I am not afraid of reading stuff or listening to stories over and over now. Abba has new things for me almost every sunset!
    One last thought: It was very encouraging to hear you beat the drum of “process, process, process” in your podcasts and how you encouraged being patient. Even when I first began understanding more, the majority of my thoughts were still in the old vein. It was so exciting when I tipped over 50% of thinking with grace the first time – a noticeably restful day. Now most days are greater than 50% and I have occasional times of thinking with such love toward myself or another that it takes my breath. I know there is so far to go still in “transition”. Just the other day I had a patient (work in a hospital) that would have repulsed me in the past. Now I am moved to tears of love for this precious one. Amazing. Thank you for your part in addressing the fears that kept my heart closed. And yay for Sara’s recovery and beautiful story of trust

  14. I am discovering recently that even my “resistance” belongs. That has happened to me through the scriptures. I read them with such an openness of heart that I enter the story. And then that drops off because it really doesn’t matter. The stories to which we cling for our identity pale next to the Real Story which is Love. (Which is true for the lady who shared her story and for all the stories Wayne shares). The Bible is a Love story, a story of a path of self-emptying love. And how does this path unfold? By revealing our obstacles to Love. When I join in the mystery which is the Trinity I follow an invitation into my deepest vulnerability. When I not only trust resistance but welcome it, creative solutions emerge. The God of Life is wildly creative. (So far beyond our wildest imaginations much less a curriculum). Resistance shows up in many guises. I pay attention to it now with my Jesus Lens eyeglasses that help me see the truth. Love plays with us again and again in the life and stories and questions of Jesus for we can’t wrap our minds around the notion that Love doesn’t require worthiness. It doesn’t require official salvation credentials, a prescribed doctrine or obeying proper authorities. Those things distract us from embodying this self-emptyiing, transformative path of Love.
    I wonder if we prefer the other way because its easier. I find Freedom to be its own reward. In the same way that sin is its own worse consequence.
    Wayne, now I wonder am I too attached to these AWESOME conversations you have on here. LOL I know I’ll make a rule and not listen to the next one!!!! See its like falling off a log. Our capacity to create religions is endless. Who will save me?? Jesus. Sweet sweet Jesus.

  15. Am enjoying the conversations on this website. Reinforces what God is teaching me. The comments and forum are often just as enlightening as the podcast. I love it when folks reflect on their journeys and share what they have learned. I love hearing about people’s encounters with God. I even like the disagreements because I learn how to handle conflict better.
    Some do seem to have a gift for verbalising the journey. I find this encouraging. I listen to Transitions, The Jesus Lens, and podcasts while doing the ironing. I have always hated ironing until discovering this website. Now it is a time of peace and learning. I look forward to it. I tried cooking to the podcasts but that was a disaster – too distracting – but it works well with ironing.
    Initially, I found The Jesus Lens fluffy and boring. I left it for awhile and came back to it and realised that Wayne is giving hints for how to approach the book, leaving space for God to do the revealing. It is not a curriculum. I like this approach. Have gone back to reading the bible with new eyes. I expect God to teach me something now rather than waiting to be spoonfed by someones commentary. Thanks to all who participate.

  16. I used to be a pastor and then left because I felt God wanted me to do/be “church” in a new way. I could see how being the pastor, and also the worship leader was getting in the way of people engaging God 1-on-1. I was looking to plant an organic church, when God said wait.. that’s when we discovered your resources which have been hugely life changing and beneficial.

    I think the best curriculum can do is remove things that block us from that intimate, free and gracious relationship with God, and that what resources like Transitions and the Jesus Lens did for me. Sorry to associate them with curriculae but their systematic approach allowed me to “get it” a lot quicker. However if God wasn’t doing the work in my heart, I doubt I could have gotten it if it came in a large brown bag labelled “IT”.

    What your books and this God journey podcast have done is given me language to help process the changes, at least until I could make it my own. For me leaving the four walls behind and the upfront ministry was hard, but after that it was like being in a vacuum, because I lost my only reference point, your books, esp So you don’t want to go to church anymore and these podcast helped me to see what life might be like outside of “religion”. For me leaving that whole setup has been like being born again and waking up on a new planet in a new kingdom. I now navigate by a single star, the star of God’s love, as long as I know his love, and as long as I am learning to love like he loves me that is all that matters anymore and that’s how I judge everything these days

    • Justin
      At one point in my walk with God I felt called to be a pastor and was moving in that direction, but it seemed the more i moved in that direction, the father I got from God. I never made it to the pulpit, but I have grown deeper and deeper in my relationship with Father. Lately I have begun to feel that church is getting in the way of my relationship with God, and considering other options. I would be interested in hearing more of your story if you want to talk more my email address is rousseau.terry@gmail.com,

  17. So appreciate the conversations here. Also deeply grateful for Wayne’s focus on “process” and developing patience. This work is not done in an instant. Like others have found, there are times when I find repetition very helpful and I seem to pick up something different each time I re-read or re-listen to something.

  18. It seems like I am always late on things…. This is awfully late to reply to this podcast, but I did want to share a little thought. First, I am so excited that Dad is teaching us these things! When I think of what you shared about “curriculum,” I think of one truth shared by Jesus that sheds a lot of light on this mystery so many of us are trying to get our arms around. “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language, but the time is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will declare the Father plainly to you” (John 16:25). This is actually quite a shocking statement when you think that in John chapters 14 through 16 Jesus shared some of the plainest teaching in all of the Bible! “Abide in me.” “The Spirit of Truth… will guide you into all the truth.” Etc. This was ALL figurative language. So, what is the plain speaking of Jesus? It is when He shows us things in the Spirit. It is when we are flowing in the divine nature that we see and hear divine words, perceiving them by the new divine nature He has caused us to be born into through His resurrection. It is spirit perceiving Spirit. It is seeing and moving in the dvine realm. There we see and hear it exactly as it is. Our human words can only approximate the reality. But in Jesus — in the flow of the divine nature He has brought us into — we get exactness. Then, even our human words will carry the spiritual realities with them (when we speak in the Holy Spirit), so that those who also are born of this life can also perceive the reality we are speaking about. Anyway, when we try to boil down realities we have seen and spoken of in Spirit into a curriculum, when are taking them out of the realm of Spirit into just mere human words and explanations. No matter how beautiful the original thought or revelation or understanding, when it drops out of the realm of Spirit into mere human explanations, it is dead, and no better than any other law. Jesus came to give us the power of life. He came to take us to heaven (now!!), so that we can move in the divine nature, and walk in the divine wisdom and love, and do whatever we see God doing there. These realities, and the fulness of what He is growing us up into, could never be captured by any curriculum!

  19. Hi Wayne, I’m just now listening to this 3 weeks later. This podcast describes a lot of my life. I became a Christian as a teenager and with a legalistic type personality I jumped right in to doing everything I was supposed to do to be a good Christian. I never really felt like I had that intimate relationship with God that I was supposed to have. I read the Bible through each year for several years; I had a daily quiet time; I was very involved in my church. There were a few times when I felt I had heard from God or felt close to Him, but I was always trying to figure out how I was supposed to maintain it. A few years ago I started listening to your podcasts and decided to quit trying. Reading the Bible was so rote that I stopped; I was tired of not getting anything out of it. I read your books, listened to Transitions, watched The Jesus Lens; your ministry was a new way for me to finally have that relationship with God. But nothing changed. I knew a different way to understand God, but I still didn’t have Him.
    Recently God has nudged me by me waking up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. I’d think – well, I can read the Bible, but I was reluctant to do that because I didn’t want to be disappointed. I think the second night I woke up I decided to open the Bible. I didn’t have much hope. I started reading a passage and would just ask a question. Then I’d think about it, and it would lead off on a tangent dealing with my life. And suddenly, God had spoken to me. I understood a little better how to live in this area. This has happened 3 times now. Each time I’ve been reluctant, lest I be disappointed, but God has continued to meet with me. The nice thing about the middle of the night is that there is no schedule that limits how long we meet. During the day it would have been – “OK, I’ve got 30 minutes, sometimes an hour, to meet with God.” I’ve enjoyed these “times of refreshing”. I’m still scared I’ll be disappointed, but when I wake up at night now I’m excited about the possibility of having a conversation with God.
    I feel I still have a lot to learn, but I’m trying to respond to His nudges because I really do want to live in His love.

  20. Hi Rick, I love your story. Of course, I’d prefer God to speak to me other than “the middle of the night,” but I’ve found him faithful there too. 😉 I love that you’re having some real moments with him and i look for those to spread out beyond the middle of the night, and even “devotional times” during the day, to become part of life as you drive, eat, shower, mow the yard, talk with friends. He wants to become a very simple part of all our lives. And this is how it begins. Enjoy! And let it grow! Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. I’m sure it will encourage others….

  21. Its 2013 and I have known been a member of the online community for six months but I never really read anything on the website because I was burnt out on curriculum. I assumed you had stuff to sell and I had no money anyway. I was one of those people who got CDs and watch TV shows and bought books and longed to go to seminars (couldn’t afford it) because I hurt so much inside and all I heard from people was that God was the one who could fill the “void” inside of me. I listened to the first CD of Transition and looking forward to the Engage series. I feel you are safe to listen to so far.
    I’ve lived in fear of God since I was a little girl and still live in that fear. I am sure that this fear has kept me from a lot of things that would have been detrimental to my life. But I cannot attend organized religion without feeling, “my heart is not in this”. I started to question everything. I felt the life was being sucked right out of me.
    One day I thought about what Jesus said in Revelation. Was Jesus outside knocking on my door and wanting to get to know Me? God wanted a relationship with me?? All this time I have thought I should focus on how to have a relationship with God – like it was totally onesided. I’ve been suffering from severe depression because of the warped teachings and trying to break free from them. I’m a born follower – a sheep needing a shepherd and so I am very new to this . I suffer from low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and always seem to need outside validation. So it is very hard to go it alone without checking in with someone to see if this is God speaking to me or my mind going wacky on me. Is that okay? (see what I mean?) I read all the comments which encourage me that I am on the right path. I am going to take a leap of faith that things will get better and I will get the hang of this new way of relating to God.

  22. Tina, thank you so much for posting. I”m so sorry you’re battling depression and know how religious obligation can only add to that. When I hear someone talk about “severe depression”, I really encourage them to get help immediately, from a doctor or mental health professional. Often times these are chemical issues, and even if not, there is possible a medication that can help you even out your emotions while you deal with the underlying issues. Have you considered that? If you know a sister learning to live loved, that could help, too, but avoid any religious counselor who will only pile on more performance issues and guilt. Obviously there are some things God wants to rework in your heart and thinking as you find a new freedom and compassion in him. He does love you, Tina. He knows where you are and can walk you out into freedom. Look for the resources he already has around you to help you in that process…

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