I recently concluded a thirty day CO2 experiment with John White. Let me tell you about my background leading up to this and what I learned.
My wife Donna and I have been married for more than 21 years. We have five children (ages 19, 17, 12, 2, and 1) and until almost three years ago were both supported ministers in a large church in San Diego. I grew up in the restoration heritage and since 1980 have been associated with a branch of the churches of Christ known as the discipling movement. For more than 20 years I served in the full-time ministry. During my earliest experiences with discipling relationships, we drew heavily on Coleman’s "Master Plan of Evangelism" and Getz’s series, "Building Up One Another". At first these close relationships were natural, spontaneous and transformational! In time as this movement grew both in number and pride, “discipling” became an authoritarian hierarchical system. We understood our relationships as either “over or under”. What was once an expression of grace became burdensome and often harmful. With both fear and excitement I agreed to the CO2 experiment.
Here are some valuable lessons I learned. From the first to the last I was struck with John’s humility. Though John was the expert, I never felt talked down to. His humility and vulnerability were endearing. With genuine curiosity, John would usually reply to my questions with his own questions that drew forth my sense of God’s leading. John demonstrated both flexibility and consistency in our commitment to connect daily. I primarily learned by John’s example.
We would practice SASHET and then share with each other what we were hearing (or in my case attempting to hear) from the Lord. This would naturally lead into other areas about life, our pasts, marriage, church, and occasional academic discussions of early church history. John would share about what he was hearing and offer helpful suggestions to help me hear. During the month that we were CO2ing I made progress in listening to and expressing my own heart and even experienced a few times in which I really believe I heard the Lord….even as I write this I sense my own tentativeness. I loved doing SASHET and now practice it with others in my life. I am continuing to practice stillness so that I can hear the Lord more clearly.
Prior to and during this time with John, my family and I have been meeting with some other families in a home church. John was always willing to share ideas that we might find helpful in the house church. We are excited about what God is doing here in San Diego and believe that in some small way we are getting to be a part of it!