I was very proud to go to a large college. I had been somewhat antisocial in high school, so college was my opportunity to turn things around and meet a lot of people quickly.
Unfortunately, a large college often means freshman-level classes are equally large.
Often, introductory-level classes have several hundred to a thousand students. Lecture halls are enormous, and no one usually gets direct access to the professor – there are often teaching aides who fill office hours instead. If you want to dive deeper into the content, you instead ask a TA or create a study group that meets outside of class to study the content further.
It’s this experience in particular that drove my brother to attend a far smaller school. Even introductory classes were limited in size, presenting direct access to the subject matter expert if you have questions.
I see these patterns somewhere outside academia, too.
Over the past several years, America has witnessed the rise of the mega church. Congregations of, at most, a few hundred tightly-knit individuals have gradually been replaced by bodies of several thousand believers, many who attend church just for the worship and sermon and never meet their fellow attendees.
The sermons are fantastic, impactful, and inspiring. The worship services are amazing and moving. But the fact that we worship and learn in an audience of thousands with little deeper connection to the material feels very much like Christianity 101 would at a large university.
Home churches and small groups likewise feel very much like the study groups we used to form freshman year to muddle through introductory chemistry without the professor.
What, then, would a 400-level church look like? In academia, this is a small group of people being led and taught by a qualified subject matter expert. How would we replicate this within the Church?