Cultivating the Mind of Christ, from Asia to Arizona

Cultivating the Mind of Christ, from Asia to Arizona

It’s an unlikely story, the kind of thing that would never make it into a strategic plan, but it has God’s fingerprints all over it. Jon H.** just finished piloting a year-long discipleship program with a large Phoenix-area multi-site church, based on a course of study that leaders in the underground church in China drew out from Jon in a cohort that kept hunting for more seeJesus material. “It sounds crazy, and sometimes that is exactly how it felt,” says Jon.

Jon was new on our staff when the church, Redemption Arizona, first connected to seeJesus. Since Jon was based in L.A., it was easy for him to fly in and join when Paul Miller went to Phoenix to lead a training.

“One training led to another, and eventually we were talking about how we might offer something that would be accessible to the wider network around Redemption,” Jon recalls. “There was a model in that community for hosting a ‘school’ of sorts for discipleship, but for a number of reasons that idea just sat out there a bit beyond our grasp, and we continued to do various trainings at different churches over the next few years.”

During that time, Jon was also working in Asia. “I led a 12-week prayer cohort with three pastors (all leaders in the underground church) that extended to six months. When we were done with that, they said, ‘What else do you have?’ And I said, ‘Well, we can do The Person of Jesus.’ So we did that for six months; they asked for more again, so then we spent six months on the J-Curve,” Jon explains.

Paul Miller speaking at the end of year seeJesus School Celebration in Arizona.

“While I was training these men, they were training other pastors in their network, and they would invite me into these mini-seminars to kick off each new section. It was the first time I had ever experienced all that material in succession in a short period of time, and it was wonderful.”

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, Luke Simmons, one of the lead pastors, brought the school up again. This time, Jon had an idea of what it might look like: “and so, of all things, this discipleship school in Arizona was formed and shaped in Asia.”

“The school is organized into three 10-week trimesters, each of which is kicked off with a seminar and then followed by weekly ‘table’ meetings with a small group,” explains Jon. “We started with a trimester on prayer, using A Praying Life material. That helps everyone start connecting ‘Spiritual’ life with everyday life. Then we moved into a trimester focused on love, using Person of Jesus. There we looked at how Jesus loves and how we’re called to love others. We ended with a trimester on the J-Curve, which built on the other two – looking at how love and prayer often draw us down into suffering, and how we follow Jesus in that journey, and trust him for resurrection in his time and way.”

By putting these three books together, there’s a good chance people will get the mind of Christ. It’s easy to silo things in the Christian life, disconnecting prayer from love and love from suffering.

Paul reflects, “When Jon showed me the curriculum, I immediately thought: by putting these three books together, there’s a good chance people will get the mind of Christ. It’s easy to silo things in the Christian life, disconnecting prayer from love and love from suffering.

“When you learn a sport,” Paul continues, “you work on developing key skills in focused drills: kicking, hitting, passing, defending, and so on. But the fun comes in putting them together in a scrimmage or game. Each trimester is a kind of focused practice on a skill. They get progressively harder, but when you put them together, they help us to do what Paul says in Philippians 2: have the mind of Christ in us!”

You can hear how the mind of Christ is transforming students in the school in these testimonies:

  • “Before seeJesus School, I often over-complicated loving people. I find that now, when I’m with people, I’m allowing my day to be interrupted more. As I spend time with people, I look at them and listen to them and wait for the Holy Spirit to prompt me on what to say. There’s a freedom in the way that I love people now that I didn’t have before.”
  • “It’s been easy for me to see Jesus as a Father, a King, the Lord. But my personal experience of his kindness and . . . how he walks with me has drastically shifted through the Person of Jesus and the J-Curve. Today I see him as a friend. It sounds really trivial, but things don’t bother me as much as they used to. When I’m stuck in traffic or in a conversation where I need to die to my ego a little bit, it’s easier to remember the path of Jesus . . . . I might not see the resurrection today, but it’s easier to believe that it is coming!”
  • “Through this new lens of seeing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus there’s an immense amount of hope and comfort. I wish I’d learned this a long time ago, because this shift allows me to enter into suffering—even just the daily monotonous suffering that isn’t as big of a deal. It frees me up to be able to experience that with meaning and purpose that I didn’t have before.”

Jon and his team plan to offer the school again next year, working to further refine components. “We’re excited about this resource,” says Jon, “but not ready yet to make it more widely available. But you can pray for wisdom as we refine! Our goal is to create a simple and helpful tool that draws people more deeply into Jesus.”

By God’s grace and through this unique development process with leaders in the underground church, it sounds like the school has done just that over the past year!

*Header image: End-of-the-year celebration and wrap-up for inaugural seeJesus School
**Jon's name is withheld for security reasons.