Hopefully, the applicant has provided you with background information on School of Love and why they desire to participate in the initial cohort. We have also included a brief overview of School of Love below.
WHY A SCHOOL OF LOVE?
School of Love is about RADICAL DISCIPLESHIP. Radical, meaning “of, relating to, or proceeding from the root,” illumines School of Love’s singular focus on the root of Christian discipleship: love of God and neighbor in Jesus Christ. Love is what Jesus means when he says, “Follow me.”
Yet we live in an age when the life of love is exceedingly difficult. And, in an age when no one seems to agree on what love even means! Even so, everyone would likely agree that we inhabit a time of rapid change and cultural upheaval. This reality poses a challenge to the whole church. Today, the challenge is not what do we need to think, believe, or do. It is, instead, how do we become lovers of God and neighbor in Jesus Christ? How are we to live the life of Christian discipleship?
Grounded in historical precedent, School of Love seeks to be a response to this challenge. Throughout history, when the church has struggled to know how to live faithfully in a new cultural context, certain movements have emerged as ways to experiment with new forms of Christian faithfulness. School of Love likewise works to establish new rhythms of life together for the sake of (1) deep formation into the Christian life and (2) justice and beloved community across systemic divides in Winston-Salem. It also undertakes this work in a way that supports the whole church. For it is only in Christ’s one Body that we become disciples who love God and neighbor.
School of Love is, indeed, a school. But it’s not a school as we often imagine. Education is not as simple as filling empty containers with new insights because of the precise way we’ve been mis-educated: we’ve been mis-educated in love. We’ve become people who’ve learned to want things that are not good for us or for our neighbors, people who’ve learned to love false gods that steal and kill and destroy the abundant life of God’s kingdom. We’re so malformed that Jesus even says we need to be born again. While he does mean this as a one-time enactment, he also means it as an entire way of life: we must be born again… and again … and again into the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Rather than merely informing us, then, School of Love centers on forming us into Christ’s love. Without question, this formation includes learning new knowledge. You’ll read plenty of books and listen to plenty of teaching in School of Love! Nonetheless, learning new information always occurs in the context of a community of practice. For true education is not simply about thinking or believing correctly. It is, more fundamentally, about learning to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and learning to live together as Christ has called us to live: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The goal is for Christ, the School’s teacher, to form us into this way of discipleship in our cultural moment.
WHAT IS REQUIRED?
In an effort to become lovers of God and neighbor together, School of Love directs a cohort of approximately thirty participants. The participants come from denominationally diverse churches in Winston-Salem, split equally between predominately white congregations and congregations of color. The initial cohort commences in September 2019 and concludes in May 2021.
We organize our cohort according to a Rhythm of Life Together. The “Rhythm” requires commitments to:
(1) Key rhythms of life together.Our rhythms include: common prayer, the Christian year, confession, Sabbath, justice, education, Breaking Bread, tarrying, pilgrimage, retreat, and Sunday worship at your congregation. These rhythms will not begin all at once, but they will be implemented gradually.
(2) Personalized rhythmsSchool of Love will help cohort participants discern and develop personalized practices to be included in their Rhythm of Life.
(3) Intercultural life together.Cohort participants must be willing to wrestle with their own and others’ social location, and what this means for Christian discipleship. In addition, cohort participants must be willing to wrestle with the irreducible social reality of racial, ethnic, cultural, theological, and political difference, which often comes at great cost for the already-marginalized. We do not ask that everyone agree amidst these differences; but we do ask everyone to seek a life together of love amidst difference. Our aim is that such a life together, including wrestling with our differences, will be one of the ways that the Spirit forms us to dwell more fully with God and others in Christ.
Instead of trying to unpack all the details and nuances of these commitments in the application, we will have two information sessions for potential applicants. The first session will occur in February 2019, and the second session will occur in April 2019. Applications for the initial cohort are due June 14, 2019.