1. How have you grown as a result of taking courses from SOD?
I can honestly say that I would not be following Christ today if it weren't for the classes I took this past year. They have really helped me overcome a lot of the misconceptions I had about Christianity and I know I am in a much better place in my life now because of these classes. I especially loved the Christianity 101 class because it really opened my eyes to the Truth and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of that class.
Above the material, I've really been encouraged by the teachers' and pastors' lives and how strong they are with the Lord. The curriculum and their wisdom as older mentors and pastors with life experience and godliness was incredible. It is so cool to have a perspective from older people who have actually lived life, but in all honesty their lives and actions and the details speak so much more powerfully than the curriculum; seeing their godly examples as men and women of God has been incredibly encouraging, more than words can express. My words and rantings are a ridiculous understatement of how encouraging it has been to see their lives.
The school and classes within it have challenged me to grow and think about areas of my walk that I don't normally pay attention to. Since I'm a guy who's normally interested in the philosophy and theology of Christianity, it's challenging and important for me to focus on more practical, everyday things (e.g. the living in community class).
I have grown into a person with more integrity and character. I feel like a lot of Christians are super "spiritual" but lack maturity in a general life sense. I feel like the classes I have taken (Relationships, Breaking Free) have helped me intertwine spirituality with real life issues. They have taught me how to function better in the kingdom. The people who teach the classes are AMAZING. They are so wise and they have imparted so much to us through sharing their lives with us.
I have learned an abundant amount of knowledge from the Hearing God class. It has stripped any false concepts or ideas of "religion" and now I have a stronger confidence in hearing the voice of the Lord.
The Kingdom of Heaven class has not only been intellectually stimulating, but also begun to transform the way I walk through my life, thinking about the Kingdom and Jesus' main ministry. The class has reminded me that His priority is my priority.
2. How has your experience been overall?
The classes I did attend proved very beneficial. I'm a new believer since September 2008—praise the Lord; the IV school is where I primarily got my initial understanding of Jesus, other than reading the Bible on my own. Though some topics might be considered pretty advanced for a new believer, I felt accommodated for my lack of knowledge. If anyone didn't understand a particular point, we would almost always go over it again in depth. Although that may lead away from the main teaching, it provides for a more coherent and complete teaching as a whole. I learned a lot since I came to know Jesus, part of that is because I did attend the Isla Vista School of Discipleship. Topics differed from week to week in one class, which provided for an intricate study of our faith. In another class, the topics would lead further and further to a certain goal, which grounded me better in the understanding of what I now believe. Do I think I've grown? Hah! You bet! How? Let's just say my roots grew further into Jesus.
The classes are a blast. We have a great time with the instructors who have a passion for God, and are able to engage the students in the topic of instruction. Some of the classes have culminated in getting together over a meal, and we always leave each class with a smile and something new to think about.
Each class has been a unique experience. I have been very blessed to receive mature insight into the faith from a variety of teachers. As I look back over the year, it is clear that these classes have been a key part of my spiritual growth.
It's certainly been a good experience. In the midst of going to my usual science classes at UCSB, it's nice to always depend on having a course that focuses on the Lord.
The experience has been very life-giving. The teachers have been so blessed and anointed to teach. Each of them has been unique and had so much love and experience to give their words authority.
3. How has the school affected your life?
It has really inspired me to study the Word on my own and to develop a personal relationship with Christ. Just being around so many wonderful people and learning from them has changed my life for the better. They inspire me to seek God more and more.
The class has cultivated a greater intimacy for me with God; I hear Him and can identify His voice so much more clearly.
My life has been more intimate with Jesus since these classes. And, more community based because of the closeness of the people taking the classes.
I found inspiration to spend time in the Word on a consistent basis, and have been motivated to actively pursue my relationship with God.