Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Noble Order of Christian Servants

The Noble Order of Christian Servants (NOCS) is a training system of Christian discipleship that was first conceived as a result of the closing of North Valley Kung Fu in 1999. The martial arts school that I owned and ran in Redding, CA was coming to an end and needed to transition into a training method that could continue in homes and churches. The new training system needed to acknowledge how unsuccessfull I had been at merely teaching the Art, instead always gravitating toward using the Art as a means for promoting evangelism and Christian growth. Attempts to teach merely kung fu regularly gave way to discipleship opportunities and challenges for believers to grow in Christian character and kingdom intensity.

Eventually it was acknowledged that God had not built me to teach both separately (kung fu and the Christian life), but instead as an integrated system that blended the highest ideals of Christian service and "protective stewardship." Therefore, from then on any who desired to learn the Art would also find themselves entering into a Christian discipline as well, or not at all. I simply will not return to teaching the Art by itself ever again.

As former students of North Valley Kung Fu continued to meet and train, it was agreed that a rather idealistic discipline had begun which called for even loftier goals (romanticizing the medieval concepts of knighthood in addition to the Art's heritage of the Shaolin priest). For this reason we began referring to fully trained participants (who blended protective ability with Christian service) as "Guardians" (one member joked that the term "Guardian" was adopted because the label "Jedi" was taken). Nevertheless, a Guardian became, by our definition, one who was sufficiently trained in both protective and ministerial ability to be of useful service to those around them, in addition to (of course) remaining committed to a lifestyle of continuing training and growth so that they will not stagnate.

Guardians may not take positions of vocational ministry in the Church, but they are active, teachable and able to make a contribution to the Body of Christ, strengthening her. Guardians may not be experts in martial arts, but their skills have been recognized by the NOCS community as useful to provide protective service for those who's safety they are stewards of. Northern California and Seattle, WA have Guardians with whom I trained and continue to render service in their respective communities. Whenever I offer a martial arts ministry in a local church, I do so looking mainly for who will be become a NOCS apprentice that can grow to be a "Guardian" for their circle of responsibility. Will it be you?

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