Reflection matters. Why is it important and what is BUILD doing about it?

During BUILD’s research phase an informant explained that “the traditional theological method is to give information learners can recall in an exam; when they pass, they go.” They added: “We need approaches that require reflection.” Another observed that “different settings have different problems that are unique and that theological reflection must answer”.

As a result the BUILD curriculum is rooted in the Scriptures and in the situations church leaders in Africa’s Great Lakes Region face. And it teaches models of reflection that learners can then apply to the unique situations they encounter. BUILD believes this reflects Scripture’s own approach, making it more biblical than traditional methods rather than less.

BUILD builds those reflection skills incrementally. Module One provides a foundation in a sequence of learning units that runs as follows: Unit 4 encounters 2 Timothy 1:8-12, in which Paul presents vital aspects of his gospel and his gospel ministry; Unit 5 then explores the nature of that gracious gospel; Unit 6 builds on this and empowers leaders to share the gospel in practice; and Unit 7 goes on to look at 2 Timothy 2:1-7, where Paul encourages Timothy to train others for gospel ministry in the context of very real hardship. That passage ends with this word from Paul to Timothy: “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this”.

For BUILD that is a natural invitation to then discuss the importance of gospel-guided reflection in the midst of ministry, and Unit 8 considers what that looks like. That initial unit about reflection begins with a simple three-step BUILD method of Christian reflection. A method that begins when learners encounter something in God’s world and God’s word with a desire for wisdom; it continues with reflection on those situations and Scriptures in order to gain wisdom; and it leads to action in God’s world with the wisdom that comes from God’s word. All in the context of dependence on the Lord who gives insight.

In English participants are encouraged to remember the process through the simple mnemonic, ‘era’: encounter, reflection, action. They discuss the fact that an era is a significant period of time; the term of office for a president or the reign of a king for example. They see that because Christ is King, this is his era, and we are called to wrestle with the situations we face in the light of the gospel for his sake, in order that his will be done, “on earth as it is in heaven”. His people are to point to his Kingdom, the new era he is bringing through Christ his King.

As the modules and units of the curriculum unfold the era model is applied in a range of ways. And importantly it gains biblical weight as different examples of encounter, reflection and action are traced: whether through Nehemiah in Module Four, where an aid for basic strategic planning is developed; or in Acts in Module Five as Luke’s thinking about mission is explored; or through Psalm 73 in Module Seven, where the model is given depth to consider the tensions of ministry in times of trouble.

No wonder participants make comments such as these: “The curriculum is centred in the Bible and clearly expounds how the word of God can be coherently taught and related to the day-to-day situation”; “The manual is in context and addresses the real issues of the current challenges for the church leaders from the Biblical point of view”.