The intention of this episode, the fifth episode on the Foundations of Flourishing curriculum 1, was for it to be a “round-up” of the previous four podcasts with a goal of highlighting the most important or perhaps under-exposed aspects of the first half of the curriculum that they present.
However, over the course of producing this series of podcasts and considering the aims and focus areas of the “Foundation of Flourishing” program, I have come to understand that there is a larger issue that needs to be presented as part of presenting this “First Steps” curriculum, which is the initial curriculum of the “Foundations” program.
Let me begin by explaining that the “Foundations of Flourishing” program—and the entire Integration Project of which it is a part—is not primarily an educational effort. In other words, it is not mainly aimed at providing information or at teaching techniques or strategies. Instead, it is above all a response to a problem—to what I see as a major and critical problem within evangelical Christianity.
To put it simply, the Integration Project (and the “Foundations of Flourishing” curriculums) are not designed to make what is currently a “good thing” great or even to make an acceptable thing better. They are instead designed to make an essentially dysfunctional thing functional—to make something that is broken actually work.
Now it may take a moment or two for the full implication of what I am saying here to sink in. I am actually saying that evangelical Christianity is not simply in need of some improvement “here” or “there.” I am saying that it is fundamentally broken. I am of the opinion, in other words, that the evangelical church by and large cannot carry out its role as either imaging Christ or as offering a viable and valuable embodiment of Christianity.
So in key ways the evangelical church is neither able to help those inside become truly “Christ-like” nor is it able effectively to persuade outsiders, at least based on its current presentation of such, that “Christ-likeness” is a valuable or viable way of being. To use Christian terminology, in my view the evangelical church patently fails at both discipleship and the great commission.