This is an article from the January-February 2008 issue: God Cannot Lead you on the Basis of Information that you Do Not Have

What is Insight?

What is Insight?

What if there were some way to capture students’ hearts for missions straight out of high school and expose them to God’s purposes, before they make life and vocational decisions? And what if we could give young adults a firm intellectual foundation for their faith, so they could engage their peers and professors intelligently instead of being labeled narrow-minded or losing their faith at college? What if such a training could be made available to students as part of their college career, at a cost competitive with state schools, so that students who pursue missions aren’t hindered by student debt? Finally, what if this could be done in a replicable way so that churches and mission agencies could be the trainers of these young adults? These are just a few of the questions that drove the U.S. Center for World Mission to develop the INSIGHT program.

In 2001, the USCWM created a curriculum and replicable format whereby churches and agencies could be instrumental in adding knowledge of God’s purposes to students’ zeal. INSIGHT fills a gap for students interested in serving globally to explore mission and gain foundational knowledge with a one-year, cost-effective commitment, and helps churches and mission agencies provide Bible and mission training in-house to their students and missionary candidates. For those familiar with the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course, INSIGHT builds on the Perspectives themes and incorporates a full year of college history and humanities as well as contemporary mission strategy.

INSIGHT gives students a critical year before major life decisions start to be made to explore God’s purposes and learn about various worldviews, without postponing college.

For students considering involvement in mission, it provides a solid Bible and mission academic foundation with a short-term commitment as they further explore their options. For students headed for a secular campus, INSIGHT provides intellectual underpinning for their faith while teaching them how to recognize competing worldviews. INSIGHT students of all backgrounds are free to complete a degree however God leads them, whether that be further preparation for mission, pursuing a profession to use globally, or choosing any major at a private or secular college of their choice.

Who are INSIGHT students?

The typical INSIGHT student is between age 17-25, and may be at any point in their college years, with any major or undecided. The majority of INSIGHT students are first year college students, although program locations may accept non-traditional college students and students wishing to take INSIGHT on a certificate or enrichment basis. The ideal INSIGHT student is motivated and prepared to succeed at college, particularly in college-level reading comprehension and verbal and written communication. Students who are interested in studying the Bible, worldviews, cultures, and religions with a heart that is responsive to God will thrive in INSIGHT.


INSIGHT groups are hosted on the U.S. Center for World Mission campus in Pasadena, California, and at regional, college, and church locations throughout the United States. Churches and mission organizations are invited to consider hosting INSIGHT locally.

The Content

INSIGHT reveals the metanarrative of God, packaged in a deconstructive, exploratory way for the American postmodern student. The curriculum was designed by Dr. Ralph Winter (Perspectives on the World Christian Movement) and R. Lewis (Sonlight homeschool curriculum), and includes the writings and input of many professors and missiologists. The curriculum endeavors to be both introductory and comprehensive, a big picture sweep of God’s purposes in the world throughout history.

The INSIGHT curriculum involves four modules that are typically offered two per semester, in sequential order, for two full-time semesters. Subjects are integrated so that students learn how topics and ideas are interrelated, for example how ethnic politics have been related to the development and interactions of religions throughout history. The curriculum follows the backbone of history, beginning with multiple views on the origins of the universe, following history through Biblical times and ancient civilizations, through the rise of religions, philosophies, empires and nation-states, to the “isms” that affect modern life, such as feminism, postmodernism, capitalism, and globalism.

Throughout the INSIGHT program, students are inductively studying the Bible and learning about theology, anthropology, church and mission history, and effective cross-cultural communication. An emphasis is placed on understanding worldview, so that students can recognize the worldview assumptions of a professor, author, the media, a peer, or an unreached people group. The content of INSIGHT is presented through carefully selected assigned readings and study questions. Students are presented with multiple perspectives in their readings, and are encouraged to think through and support their own conclusions in class discussions and written work.

The Format

The format of INSIGHT, how the curriculum is delivered, is not the typical college experience. Instead of several lectures each day from professors in different departments, INSIGHT students use Study Guide lessons and readings to independently prepare for an integrative class discussion that is facilitated by staff and focuses on key ideas from the lesson. Discussions follow the format of Socratic dialogue and help students to synthesize the material they are learning. Students are expected to be able to interact with the authors’ viewpoints from their readings and their peers, supporting their thoughts in discussion. Due to the chronological progression of the curriculum, lesson and discussion topics build on one another throughout the program.

Every five lessons there is a supplemental lecture from a local professor, missionary, or pastor who can add depth and interest to a topic that is being studied. Field trips are arranged to nearby mosques, temples, and ethnic communities to further help students integrate what they are learning. Most INSIGHT programs also include a spiritual formation or experiential component, ranging from small groups and retreats to internships, evangelism training, and even short-term mission experiences.

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