Going SOLO in Church

We have been attending Summit Drive Church in Kamloops for a little under a year and Kelly and I continue to be impressed at the depth of teaching that is evident week in and week out.

We attended a different church in a different town recently and both left feeling that it was more a performance than anything…it was disapponting. But coming back to Summit was really a breath of fresh air. Today it dawned on me why this is the case.

It has to do with how we think and relate ideas to each other as described in Biggs’ & Collis’ SOLO Taxonomy. The taxonomy describes different levels of understanding, specific to the attainment of learning outcomes, but also applicable to the general presentation of ideas.

The five levels of understanding in the taxonomy are described as:

  1. prestructural: a response or presentation that completely misses the point and is simply wrong;
  2. unistructural: a presentation that identifies one isolated characteristic of the idea;
  3. multistructural: a presentation that identifies multiple characteristics of an idea, but does not show how they are related to each other;
  4. relational: a presentation that identifies multiple characteristics of an idea and shows how those characteristics are related to each other in the context of the idea;
  5. extended abstract: a presentation that identifies multiple, related characteristics of an idea and applies the idea to a different, unrelated idea.

There are some ‘churches’ today that flounder intellectually at the prestructural level, yet they enjoy enormous ‘success’ (numbers and budgets), see this, and this, and this. This is a huge problem, but I won’t address it here.

Many (most?) evangelical churches are likely working at the multistructural level with several different characteristics of Christianity being taught accurately, but with little in terms of a unifying meta-narrative to tie everything together.

It seems to me that the teaching at Summit, and particularly from Dave Fields, consistently hits the relational and often the extended abstract levels of understanding. Perhaps it has something to do with The Story that we are working through as a church, but I think that it is deeper than that. I have rarely heard a teacher that so artfully and clearly builds a case for the Gospel using resources that are both ancient and modern; sacred and secular. Dave makes it look easy and he does it in such a way that is both accessible to a wide audience and still challenging for more sophisticated audiences, and everything builds towards the overall story of the Gospel.

Image Credit: creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by cogdogblog: http://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/15903347764