Essentials of Christian Education - Lesson 8

How? & Where?

You will learn about the different places, and ways education can happen as a Christian. This includes in the home through family worship and devotions, in the community of faith through Sunday school, youth groups, and small groups, and in the world through service, mission trips, and vocational opportunities. Education is a lifelong process and is for the sake of Christ.

Gary Parrett
Essentials of Christian Education
Lesson 8
Watching Now
How? & Where?

I. Introduction

A. Purpose of education

B. Education for the sake of Christ

II. Education and the Church

A. The role of the church in education

B. Education and discipleship

III. Where and How Education Happens

A. In the home

1. Family worship

2. Family devotions

3. Family discussions

B. In the community of faith

1. Sunday school

2. Youth groups

3. Small groups

C. In the world

1. Service and outreach opportunities

2. Mission trips

3. Vocational opportunities

IV. Conclusion

A. Education is a lifelong process

B. Education is for the sake of Christ

  • The lesson covers all aspects of Christian education.
  • This lesson provides insight into the misconceptions about Christian Education and the true nature of it, including its definition, relationship with the Bible, and role of teachers and parents.
  • This lesson provides knowledge and insight on the essentials of Christian education, including its biblical basis, characteristics, and challenges.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the essentials of Christian education, including its biblical basis, goals, models, and challenges.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the essence and significance of Christian education, its biblical basis, and different approaches to imparting education in a Christian context.
  • The lesson explains the significance of timing in Christian education through a biblical and pedagogical perspective, including the importance of God's perfect timing and student readiness, biblical examples, and personal application.
  • This lesson covers the basics of Christian education, including the target audience and what is taught, and the methods used to teach it.
  • The lesson teaches about the various ways and places in which education can take place as a Christian, including at home, in the community of faith, and in the world.
  • This lesson covers the basics of Christian education, including its biblical basis, theology, philosophy, and practice, and its role in making disciples and renewing the image of God in humanity.

How do you communicate the gospel within the setting of a church? Who are you teaching? What are you teaching? Why? These questions and more are answered in a way that will help you train up people in your local congregation, and especially train up the next generation.

These lectures are a summary of the full course, Educational Ministry of the Church. It is an introductory level course to the ministry of education within the church. These lectures were recorded by Biblical Training during the summer of 2003.

Dr. Gary Parrett
Essentials of Christian Education
How? & Where?
Lesson Transcript


Now we'll move to the how question. And again, the how question is not how could we teach, but how can we teach so that we will engage the whole person if the goal of our teaching is Christian formation, as we said, helping people become like Jesus Christ, then it has to be more than simply an intellectual business. We don't want to just teach creatively so that people can, you know, get something in their minds. We want to teach minds and engage minds, but we also want to engage hearts and engage people in action as well. A lot of educators, including a lot of Christian educators, use as sort of a triad of confluence, bringing together three different streams head, heart and hands, or sometimes will speak in terms of learning domains, the cognitive domain for the mind, the affective domain for the heart or the soul, and the behavioral domain for engage in the hands. There's wisdom here, and I would like to add to this something further. In addition to head, heart and hands, maybe even prior to head, heart and hands, the importance of engaging eyes and ears or adding to the question of cognition, affection and behavior, adding the whole idea of perception. Now let's see what we mean by these very things, by engaging eyes and ears of learners and discussion of the how question we're asking How can we teach so that people will become aware of issues, will become aware of biblical commands, or become aware that there are needs that must be addressed. If, for example, I wanted to, I felt it was necessary to teach on the subject of racism. And I might feel that's necessary because the content of what I'm teaching is love your neighbor as yourself. So we're doing a section on love your neighbor as yourself, and much as Jesus does when he teaches on that subject, he has to address the issues of race and the issues of problems between different peoples from different backgrounds. So Jesus uses the example of a Samaritan loving across ethnic boundaries, a Jewish person who's in great need. Well, if I want to teach the subject of love your neighbor as yourself, and I better teach that because the Bible deeply emphasizes that. And then I might want to explore the issue of racism. And the reality is, in many of our churches, I'm going to have to start simply by raising awareness. There would be a lot of folks and a lot of our churches who simply think that racism is not an issue today in the United States. They might say, well, you know, racism used to be an issue, but it's not an issue anymore. Well, before we can have deep intellectual engagement about the subject of this or before we can get to obedience to the Lord in this area, we might have to begin with simple perception and help people see how can I teach in ways that will open eyes and open ears. Maybe I can show a film clip, maybe I can have somebody tell the story of their own experience that may surprise and startle people, but somehow I have to open eyes, open ears to let people see what they haven't been seeing before. Simply engage people at a prior level. And having done that, whatever the case may be, whatever the issue may be, then we start to wrestle with how do we engage heads and hearts and hands? Jesus plainly engaged the minds of his hearers sometimes by sitting them down and just giving them lots of information to think about, not just information, but information that was intended to transform their lives and information that they needed to think about, not simply thrust into their memory banks of their mind. When Jesus sat the the crowds down at the Sermon on the Mount, for example, he taught his disciples, but the multitudes listened end as they gathered around him. Jesus was clearly engaging minds. And when we engage minds, we need to think about several levels of cognitive development. So it's appropriate to ask. Ask how do we engage the mind at various levels? Sometimes engaging the mind simply means providing basic information, content, heavy engaging of the mind. Sometimes people will run too quickly to critical thinking without having provided anything to really critically think about. This happens in the church a lot where we get into great discussions over theological issues that someone doesn't even understand because the basics haven't been laid yet. There is a time for supplying basic information. Think again of the analogy of a university. Abram. Someone may go in with a particular major in mind. Maybe they're going to be a law student. And at a law school program, perhaps a year one would be focused on just understanding basic information that must be known. Memorizing lots of facts, lots of information, lots of ideas. But as time goes on, year to year three, there's more critical engagement with that knowledge base. Certainly more knowledge is being gained, but more critical understanding of that knowledge and application of that knowledge is being involved as well. We can look at this kind of engage in the mind as a movement from content, which is emphasized perhaps more in the earlier stages towards process, which is emphasized more in the later stages. In other words, lay the foundation of content. And as time goes on, help people to understand more deeply what that content means, what the implications of that are, what the applications of that may be all kinds of different ways simply to say that there are all kinds of different ways that we engage minds. Basic information is important. Sometimes a lecture is the right way to do it. We give information through a lecture or through the reading of a book, but we don't leave it there because once the knowledge base is established, we want to critically engage people around that knowledge. Jesus critically engaged people on what they purport to believe in, the knowledge they already seem to possess by telling stories and by asking questions. For example, when he asked his disciples, Well, who do you say that I am in Matthew chapter 16 and verse 15 just one example of countless cases. When Jesus asked the disciples question, or other places, when he questioned those who who were questioning him. Matthew 22 For example, through the end of the passage in which Jesus has fielded question after question after question, he turns to a crowd and says, Well, what do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he? And this turns out to be a mind boggling question that becomes very uncomfortable for those who receive the question and unsettling to them and stops their questions that were aimed at trapping Jesus in his words. The use of good questions. Powerful way to engage minds. So we engage eyes and ears, open eyes and ears to issue, but we also engage minds and beyond the mind, beyond the cognitive level, we want to engage the heart. Or sometimes we'll say this is the affective level of the learner. That's educational terminology. But the idea is is a solid biblical idea that we are more than cognitive beings. And our learning also involves our feelings, our emotions, our values. All of these things are part of our being as well. And when we teach the truth to people, we don't want them only to be nodding their head in a firming what we've said or granting intellectual asset to our teaching. We want the truth to really speak to their heart and let them here what the heart says. So we have Jesus in the Gospels, for example, asking questions that probe the heart or telling stories that were intended to break the heart. Or one of the great examples of Jesus really speaking not only to the head level but to the level of the heart, I think would be John. Chapter 13. When Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, there's a truth that He's going to communicate here, but he doesn't communicate it primarily through words. He communicates it through action, and the action turns out to be powerful. It's mentally stimulating for them. But more than that, it's it's heart rending. It breaks the heart of the proud, combative, competitive disciples through his action. And as we think about how we can engage hearts, we could learn, perhaps that the use of story is powerful. The use of drama can be powerful. Parable Music. There are ways to teach whole person that are more than just cognitive experiences that support and supplement cognitive learning. We can engage people's minds, we engage their hearts. And as we saw, we engage. They're trying to open their eyes and ears to issues. Ultimately, though, we also must engage hands. We must transform action because the goal, as we saw from the Great Commission, is not only that people know all that Jesus has taught or commanded, but that people must obey all that Jesus has taught or commanded. And so we need to engage people in action. Jesus, again, as our model in this regard, often engage the 12 in action when the feeding of the 5000. First Jesus tells the Apostles they must give the multitudes something to eat and He makes them work and learn as they work. Or a great example, I think, is John Chapter four. Let's go back to that basic content concern that we're going to teach the love of neighbor. Love your neighbor as yourself. Well, Jesus knows that the 12 have great problems with some of their neighbors, including their near neighbors in Samaria, like the fellow Jews of their day. Most of the apostles probably have great disdain for the Samaritans lost centuries long history of mutual hostility between Jews and Samaritans. On one occasion, the Jews, Jewish disciples of Jesus, James and John in particular, recommended a little bit of lightning to strike dead some Samaritans. But Jesus knows that one day his his apostles are going to be on a global mission that will make them be witnesses in Samaria and to the ends of the earth, and to teach them the lesson, he could sit them down and simply tell them they must love Samaritans, too. But in John chapter four, he takes them through Samaria, and much to their surprise, he engages a Samaritan woman in conversation. And then even to the greater shock and probably horror. He has them stay in Samaria for two full days of ministry, and by engaging them in these actions, by sending them out on other missions. He provides some of the greatest teaching as well. So the how question, again, is a reminder to us that of our basic goal, our basic goal is not transformation of simply the mind, but transformation of the whole person into the likeness of Jesus. And if that's to occur, we must not only teach the right things, but we must teach the right things in the right ways. And we must engage minds and hearts and hands of our learners. And we must open eyes and ears to those areas that we're deaf and dumb to and engage the whole person until true obedience becomes our our goal and transformation of the whole life begins to take place in our midst. Once we have looked at the how question are in fact, as we look at the whole question, of course we must also look at the where question these two are necessarily linked together. If we say how are we going to teach so that we can be really effective in engaging the person? Then we must also ask what, where, where does that teaching need to take place? In fact, these questions begin to get linked together in a very interesting way. For example, if we say, Why are we teaching again? Why we're teaching and to Christ's likeness, what does it mean to be like Jesus? Among other things, we could say it means to love God and to love neighbor. So then what must we teach? What we must teach love of neighbor And how can we teach the love of neighbor? Well, maybe we'll have to engage people in actual relationships. Where are we going to teach that, then? Well, we have to take people where people are. So the where question for the 12 becomes He leads the 12th through Samaria to teach them to love Samaria militants by engaging their hands and engaging their their feet and their whole beings in actual relationship with people that they otherwise might not have met at all or spent time with in such ways at all. If I'm teaching primarily something that's content heavy. For example, I'm teaching the the basics of the faith. If we go back to the Creed, for example, as an introduction, a little primer on theology. Well, maybe because it's primarily content for the mind, I aim at the mind with the hope that this will grab hold of minds and then affect hearts and hands as well, to be sure. But I need to lay the foundation of that basic knowledge. Maybe the classroom is a proper context for that. And so we put people in a in a classroom environment, and lecture is the proper methodology. That may well be if I'm teaching theology, classroom and lecture, they may make all the sense in the world. But if I'm teaching ethics, probably the classroom is not going to be an ultimately satisfactory environment. If I'm going to teach love of neighbor, we're going to have to ultimately teach that in the real lived world, just as Jesus taught his disciples in the real world, He taught them ministry in the real world. It's interesting how we expect people to become disciples in our churches today, but our programs of discipleship are almost all classroom programs. And if we reduce discipleship to an hour a week in a classroom environment, it's absolutely unrealistic. It's unrealistic of us to expect that will actually make any disciples to make real discipleship. We're probably going to have to follow the pattern of Jesus, who taught primarily on the road and taught on the way and taught in lived circumstances, not only in temporarily constructed formal classroom kind of environments. The where question then necessarily link. To the how question and considering always, what are the best context for our learning to take place? What's the best setting? The best environment?