Studies, Lectures, and Discussion
The distinguishing feature of L'Abri is its emphasis on personalized, individual study and self-study. Except for special programs that are offered by L'Abri, there is no fixed curriculum. Instead, each guest or student pursues his or her own curriculum, designed with the help of a worker to effectively deal with the individual's academic interests and personal concerns. Of course, if some people share a common goal, they may form a study group; however, since L'Abri is a small community, individual self-study is the rule in most cases. Meanwhile people often share what they have discovered, through seminars with others. Such is why we recommend that you think carefully what you want to study here before you register. L'Abri is not a place for relaxed vacation but rather a residential study center where people rest, study, and pray in a community environment. Our library, which is also a common study room, has books on many different religious and non-religious issues, as well as lecture tapes and CDs.
Each guest except short-term visitors is assigned one private tutor among the workers, with whom he or she can have at least one tutor session per week. A tutor helps each person design his or her own curriculum and provide guidance through the curriculum thus designed. A tutor session can also be a time for talking about personal concerns. Tutor sessions are held in a relaxed atmosphere, so there is no need to feel nervous about it. Indeed, the phrase that best expresses a tutor session at L'Abri would be "an honest dialogue with a cup of tea." If the weather is agreeable, you might even get the chance to take a walk in the country with your tutor. On top of that, L'Abri charges no fees for private tutoring. You only pay the living expenses and that covers all.
There are some special or common programs, however. People are usually expected to attend one or two lectures a week, regardless of their own study topics. Lectures at L'Abri generally deal with various issues, as well as topics in Christian worldview that are closely related to everyday life. Sometimes, visiting scholars offer special lectures, and at other times, lectures are prepared to deal with a socially important issue. Other than lectures, prayer meetings and Bible studies are some of the common programs at L'Abri.
Discussion is another aspect of study that L'Abri considers to be very important. The so-called disadvantages of individual study are overcome through active discussion among students. Anyone can bring questions that might arise while studying individually. There is no need for a grave disagreement to be present in order for a discussion to begin. Heated debates at L'abri often starts as a minuscule question. Mealtime is a good opportunity for discussions at L'Abri. You might think that discussion is a dull and boring business, but the lunch table has an almost magic effect. When each person brings out and defends his or her own ideas and positions, the meal can easily take more than two hours to finish.
The motto of L'Abri is "honest answers to honest questions." Any doubt or question can be brought up as long as the question is honest. We welcome issues that are difficult to bring out in churches and other Christian groups. We also believe that there is no question that is irrelevant to Christianity, because we believe that Christianity can provide answers to every question in life. We aim to honestly answer your questions to the best of our abilities, through study, lecture, and discussion. To be sure, we do not believe that we can answer any question whatsoever. Our final authority is the Bible, and we believe that only God has all the answers.