Educational Ministry of the Church - Lesson 1

Introduction to Educational Ministry of the Church

Seven questions that provide a framework for choosing and implementing curriculum.

Gary Parrett
Educational Ministry of the Church
Lesson 1
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Introduction to Educational Ministry of the Church



I.  Seven Questions

A.  Why? - Concept

B.  What? - Content

C.  When? - Continuity

D.  Whom? - Congruence

E.  How? - Confluence

F.  Where? - Context

G.  Who? - Contact

II.  Three Commitments to Reaffirm

A.  Biblically-based Starting Point

1.  Baptizing - Evangelism

2.  Teaching - Christian Education

B.  Obey and Teach The Faith

C.  Cooperative Servant Leadership

  • Seven questions that provide a framework for choosing and implementing curriculum.

  • Our misconceptions about Christian education can cause us to choose poor or inaccurate content and use ineffctive strategies.

  • The three essential tasks of the Church are worship, outreach and teaching.

  • Christian formation focuses on the process of becoming more like Christ.

  • Instructions for spiritual education from passages in the Old Testament and New Testament.

  • History of Christian education from the early church to modern Sunday school.

  • The Heidelberg Catechism provides essential elements for a Christian education curriculum.

  • The Torah contains the essence of what God wants us to know. Jesus clarifies and exemplifies the Torah.

  • A CORE curriculum should be Comprehensive, Orthodox, Reforming and focused on Essentials. Delivery systems may include bible studies, small groups, Sunday school and sermons.

  • The Ten Commandments are the basis for Old Testament Law and the core teaching of the New Testament.

  • Tailoring curriculum by taking into peoples' physical and spiritual developmental stages can make teaching more effective.

  • Tailoring curriculum by taking into peoples' physical and spiritual developmental stages can make teaching more effective.

  • A key element for effective education to take place is for teachers to know their students relationally.

  • Effective teachers know their audience and avoid attitudes and expressions that would create obstacles to communication.

  • Asking the right questions about the curriculum and the audience can help you identify what information to emphasize and how to present it effectively.

  • How you define teaching determines content and strategy.

  • Effective teaching engages the whole person.

  • When preparing curriculum, an effective teacher will take into account both the content and the audience.

  • Many people fill the role of teacher in your life at different times and in various ways.

  • Christian education involves recruiting, training, modeling, organizing and supporting people who volunteer to teach.

  • Being trained in skills for conflict resolution helps you to have realistic expectations and gives you the tools you need to effectively resolve situations as they arise.

Through this course, you will gain a deep understanding of the educational ministry of the church, its foundations, principles of teaching and learning, and the development of an effective educational ministry. You will also explore strategies for different age groups, including children, youth, and adults, and learn how to address contemporary issues such as cultural relevance, technology, media, and special needs inclusivity.

Educational Ministry of the Church 
Dr. Gary Parrett 
Introduction to Educational Ministry of the Church 
Lesson Transcript


Okay. This is the educational ministry of the church. And in this class where we'll be speaking together about Christian education, the Ministry of Teaching and the church, the Ministry of Christian Formation will be organizing our thoughts together around seven simple questions. There are seven questions that probably are useful in almost any ministry that we might be engaged in, but certainly I have found them very useful for Christian education purposes. And I'll walk through these seven questions very quickly with you and link to these each of these questions link one term that we'll be introducing along the way. And then after walking through the seven questions, we'll stop and look specifically at three questions that I have particular concern about. And this will be a place for us to linger as we open our discussions and considerations together. The seven questions that guide my thinking as I work through issues of Christian education in the church are these. The first question is simply why that is, Why do we do Christian education? Why? Why are we engaged in this teaching ministry in the life of the church? What is our purpose? What are our aims? The why question. The term that I'd like to introduce to link to this question is the term concept, and that is what is our conception or our concept of Christian education as we begin figuring out the why question is really critical, because unless we understand what it is we're aiming at and why it is we're engaged in this ministry, we can easily fall into the trap of simply doing things because they've been handed to us.


We've inherited them or doing things because it seems like a good thing to do without having a clear sense of purpose. I'm a believer that we need to resist the temptation to run too rapidly to the how question and other related questions until we really considered big questions like the why. One of my favorite authors is Dostoyevsky, the great novelist. Russian novelist. Dostoyevsky has a character in one of his novels. Say these words. He says, We could figure out the how of life if we only knew the why. And I believe that in ministry and Christian education in particular, understanding the why question will lead us very much down the right direction. The second question that we will consider in class is the what question That is, what do we teach? That word that I want to link to this is the term content. What is the content of the church's teaching? The what question, as we'll explore it, is not really what could we teach or what might we teach, but what must we teach? And the idea that we'll be exploring under the what question is the idea of essential content in Christian teaching. This is a point that we'll return to in just a few moments, so I'll leave it alone here. The why question linked to the term concept. The what question linked to the term content. The third question that we'll ask in class along the way is the question When, when do we teach what? Once we've determined the essential content of our teaching, then we need to think about questions pertaining to when we introduce certain materials to certain groups of people, certain learners. The one question is asking really about the developmental level of the learners, not just natural developmental levels where they're at in terms of their cognitive development, etc., but really in terms of their spiritual development.


Are there some things that we feed as milk to newborn babies and other things that are more like meat to mature believers? So we'll be looking at the when question and we're going to link this to the term continuity. And what I have in mind here is that so often in the church, although many people in the church may be doing very good things. Often it seems that the left hand doesn't really know what the right hand is doing, and so there's not a lot of continuity in our ministries to flesh this out. Just a moment. Suppose a church has a very effective children's ministry, but as a child leaves fifth grade and begins to move into a junior high school, perhaps the junior high minister and the elementary school ministers haven't really discussed how their two ministries relate to each other. And because the left has not talking to the right hand often instead of really effectively building upon previous learning, the junior high pastor might just try to reinvent the wheel with his kids all over again. So continuity and all of those points from one age to the next age is really critical. So the wind question has a number of features to it. Developmental issues naturally, developmental issues spiritually, and then coordinated efforts in the church so that we can really have some progress from infant spiritual infancy all the way to spiritual maturity. The one question related to the one question is the fourth question. That's the human question. Whom are we teaching? You can see the relation with the wind question because when we talk about developmental levels of different learners, we can see that that's part of understanding who are our learners, who are learners really are. But to whom? QUESTION takes takes the question a little bit further.


It's not only looking at developmental issues, whether they're natural or spiritual developmental issues, but the home question is really considering the whole person that we're teaching. I want to know the person that I'm teaching well so that I can attain a high degree of congruence as I teach cultural congruence. That's the fourth term congruence. I need to understand the learner well. I need to understand my audience well, and that includes developmental issues, but it also includes issues, for example, of a of a person's cultural background, a person's family background, a person's educational background. Until I understand my audience, it's going to be difficult for me to fit timeless truths to their realities or to let them see how time with truth really does connect with their temporal experience. So a good teacher and a good teaching ministry attends not only to the content of our teaching, but also attends to the persons whom we are teaching, pays attention to their realities. And like Paul, then we make it our business to become all things to all people so that by all possible means we might save some and help some people along. So the fourth question then is whom are we teaching? And the goal is to achieve cultural congruence in our teaching. The fifth term is the whole question, and it's a question I suggested a little bit ago that we wanted to put off. It's not the first question in our thinking, but it is a critical question How do we teach? And I want to take this particular aim at the how question, How do we teach so that we can engage the whole person in learning or the whole community in learning, not just minds, but hearts as well, Not just cognition, but affection as well and behavior.


In fact, we're going to be looking not only at heads but hearts and hands and even at the issues of eyes and ears. That is, how do we get people to pay attention? How do we get people to perceive better so that they can think more deeply, so that they can embrace more passionately and so that they can obey more faithfully the how question How do we teach so that the whole learners engage in what we're aiming at now is a fifth term, and the term is confluence in our education. Confluence in education often has to do with bringing together the cognitive and affective domains of learning. I really have in mind here teaching the whole person how do we bring together the head, the heart, the hands, the eyes, the ears, teach the whole person, and we'll be looking at issues related to the how question under that topic. That's question number five. Question number six is related very much to the how question, and that's the question of where Where are we teaching? Where can we teach to really maximize the teaching and learning experience? The issue is the issue of context. Context or literally that the actual settings in which we teach the where question relates directly to the how question, especially as well as to the others. But think about this. If one of the things I want to do is teach for be. Hey, if you're not just teach heads, but teach hands. If I want to teach, as Jesus suggested, not only everything that he commanded, but teach obedience to all that He commanded. Once I make that a particular aim of my teaching, I really have to wrestle with the issue of, Well, where am I going to teach that? Where can I teach obedience? Can I teach obedience to all that Jesus commanded? In a context of a formal classroom.


In the setting of a formal classroom. And of course, the likely answer is only in a very, very limited way. I can teach what Jesus taught and what Jesus commanded in a formal setting, but I can't teach obedience to that in a formal setting, not very far down that road. In any case, I might to take that seriously. I'm going to have to alter the context. I'm going to have to do probably what Jesus did when Jesus wanted to teach his disciples what it meant to love their neighbor as themselves. He He did it by taking them out on the road, and they did it on the way. They did it in the real workaday world and the real life that they lived. And we're going to have to pay attention to issues of context as well. They're very, very contexts for teaching the worship experience, the formal classroom, the small group experience, the fellowship and informal times, mission activities, all kinds of things become contexts for learning, and we'll consider the implications of those things. So sixth question is where do we teach and the context of our teaching? And finally, is the seventh question, and I do put it lasts for a particular reason, not because it's last in importance, but because I want to make it a particular point of emphasis. And that's the WHO QUESTION. What I have in mind here is who is the teacher whose job is Christian education in the church? Whose job is it to do Christian education? And as we consider this, we'll be looking at the issue of contact and the critical role that personal contact plays in Christian education. So whose job is it? The issue is contact. We're going to look at the WHO question under three with three primary concerns.


First of all, biblically speaking, whose job is it, this task of Christian education? Secondly, how can we organize those persons whose job it is to teach? How can we organize them effectively? And finally, who do I need to be in terms of my own character to be the teacher? That can make a difference in another person's life or in a community's life. So who do I need to be the issue of character? Those are the seven questions that we're going to be thinking through together as we move along, Lord willing, in the class. But right now what I'd like to do is look at three of these in particular. And the way I'll do it is just by sharing with you some reflections that I had after attending a conference a few years ago when I first moved from 12 years of full time pastoral ministry into full time professor, the full time professor, it one of the joys of my new position was being able to attend a conference and I attended this annual conference of Christian Education professors for the first time, the second time. And as I went to the first and second conferences, I remember coming away from the second conference after I've had two of these under my belt, coming away, really struck by this thought. Christian education is in trouble. People don't like Christian education professors. That's very much the sense that I had. What I found was at the conference, I heard professors around the table complaining about the fact that on their campus, the theology professors or the biblical professors kind of looked down at them and didn't really treat them with respect. And also on their campus, I found that it wasn't only some of the other professors who didn't respect them, but some of the students didn't respect their professors reporting that their M diff students in particular who had come in to their Christian education classes because it was part of their required curriculum, would come in grudgingly and didn't really want to be there.


So they didn't feel respected by professors. They didn't feel respected by students. I sat in one workshop at a conference where the presenter had been a missionary for many years and he was a missionary Christian educator, and he shared with the group that, you know what, out on the mission field, a lot of the missionaries really don't like Christian educators. They're kind of bothered by them. And there's a tension out there and I'm I'm listening to this and I'm thinking, what? Nobody likes Christian educators, do they? And then finally, as the conference was ending, the second conference ended. Well, it piggybacking on the second conference was a youth ministry educators conference. Youth ministry professors came in and it turned out that two thirds of the C professors left and a new batch came. A new batch of youth ministry professors came in and joined the group that was left. And guess what? The first topic of discussion was? Well, it had to do with the tensions between youth ministry professors and Christian education professors. And it turned out that a lot of the youth ministry professors had hard feelings towards their fellow professors who were in Christian education. It was really a strange experience for me. I'm almost wondering now, what have I done? I've moved from pastoral ministry into this. I'm a C professor now and nobody likes C professors. It was a challenging thought. It made me a little bit reminded of this little saying that we used to have when I was a kid, when we were feeling blue. Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me. Guess I'll go eat worms. That's kind of what it felt like. But as I went away from the second conference thinking, Why is it that nobody likes C professors, I was struck by the thought, you know, after a certain period of time when you hear criticism from all sides, you really need to stop and look in the mirror.


Some of the criticism plainly that people have felt in the field of Christian education is unjustified and unfair and based on ignorance, people not knowing the situation. But frankly, I think you have to say some of it. Some of it may be earned. And as I start to think about why is it that Christian education folk have felt so put out from so many directions? Actually, it came to my mind that there are some ways in which Christian education has as a field, as a discipline, perhaps gone astray in the last decades. And I think to some extent, I brought a little different perspective on this because I came into the field of Christian education myself, not as someone who was really trained or even planning to become a Christian educator. I came as someone who had been a pastor, a youth pastor, a college pastor, an adult pastor for years. And I became as someone who is trained in with an M.D. degree myself and with a master theology plan that was in historical theology. I didn't complete that degree. But as I was moving in that way, I was moving with historical theology as my perspective. So I brought a little different perspective to the task. And as I looked at Christian education, from my perspective in my evaluation, I identified what I think are three areas in which perhaps we've gone astray. And it calls to mind three fundamental commitments that we in Christian education today really need to reaffirm. Three commitments that we must reaffirm. And these three commitments are related to three of the seven questions that we looked at a few moments ago. And let me walk you through these briefly. The first commitment that I believe we need to reaffirm in Christian education is a commitment to a biblically based starting point.


A commitment to a biblical starting point. I'm talking here about the why question. Why are we doing this task again? What do we understand by Christian education? What is our concept? What's driving us as we move in these directions in the church's teaching ministry? I believe that in many cases, Christian educators have have lost sight of a clear biblical vision of what Christian education is. In my mind, Christian education is nothing more than and nothing less than great Commission work. This is the work that derives directly from the Great Commission. Matthew 2819 and 20 Jesus sends out His disciples into the world, verse 18, declaring His authority and then sending the fourth in the world saying, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I've commanded you and Lo, I'm with you always, even to the end of the age. Well, the imperative in the Great Commission is simple, and it's only one imperative. The imperative is make disciples. Make disciples. But as make disciples, as explained, it turns out, there are two participle phrases that explain what making disciples involves. And the two phrases are baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son of the Holy Spirit. That's A and then B teaching them to obey everything that I've commanded you. As I think about that first phrase, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son of the Holy Spirit. This, I believe, is pointing the church toward an evangelistic mission in fulfilling the Great Commission. We go out to all nations. We find people who've not heard the gospel. We give them the gospel, we bring them the gospel.


We tell them the gospel, and we live the gospel before their eyes. And we bring them by the power of the spirit to the point where they affirm the faith and accept the faith and become obedient to the faith of Jesus Christ and the symbol of their initiation. The sign of their birth into this new community of faith is baptism. So baptizing them means bring them to the point of faith through proclamation of the Gospel and living the gospel before their eyes, where they accept the gospel and are baptized in the community of faith. Baptizing them points me toward an evangelistic mission, but we don't leave them there as newly baptized people. We teach them to obey everything that Christ is commanded. We bring them forward. And that second leg of the Great Commission, a second phrase, teaching them to obey all that I've commanded you is explicitly speaking and pointing to the Ministry of Christian Education, the Ministry of Teaching in the church. Christian Education has evangelistic pieces to it, certainly, but the main task of what the Bible has in view by Christian education is when someone is born in. To the family. We raise them up in the family. And it's a lifelong task. It's a task that's never finished this side of glory. Think about what Jesus said. Teach them to obey everything that I've commanded you. If we set out with a goal of teaching, teaching these new disciples everything that Jesus commanded all by itself, that would be a pretty lofty goal. To really understand the full teachings of Jesus, the full commands of Jesus. Identify them, explicate them. That would be a lofty goal in and of itself. But that's not what Jesus said. He doesn't say, Teach them everything that I've commanded.


Not that alone is teach them to obey everything that I've commanded. And that sets us off on a lifelong mission of teaching Christian lifestyle and teaching Christian character, teaching Christian obedience. So the biblically based starting point that I'm speaking of is a call back to the Scriptures, a call back to the Great Commission and other key text of which there are many, and we'll be looking at those in days to come and let these text be the text that guide us for our task. In fact, many times in Christian education, it seems like people come at it not first from the scriptures, but rather from a different perspective. For example, I think some would look at Christian education and approach it something like this. They would say, in Christian education, okay, education. All right, What is education? Let's look at the social sciences. Let's look at educational theory. Let's understand what education is. Let's define education. All right. Now that we've done that, what would it mean, therefore, to speak about Christian education? And then they would go and turn to the scriptures and look at theology and try to figure out what Christian education would be. And I really believe that that's often what happens, that we've got the cart before the horse, as it were. We've got the wrong starting point. If we walk down that road too far, then pretty soon what we're doing is simply taking a secular idea and baptizing it. And I don't believe that's what we need to do. So in the last decades, as I've looked around and with much of what's gone in Christian education, frankly, it seems to me that to many of us in Christian education have been walking long in the counsel of Dewey and PJ and Kohlberg and Erikson, rather than in the Torah of the Lord in the Word of the Lord.


And it's not that I would say that the social sciences cannot be used in Christian education, that that is certainly not the case. The social sciences must be used. They they have much to offer us in terms of insights for our task. But they ought not to be piloting the good ship Christian Education. As we think about Christian education, it must be theology that guides us. It must be Scripture that guides us. Let the Bible tell us what our task is, and then we can bring various hands on deck that theology pilot the ship, let the gospel pilot the ship, and then we can turn to the social sciences, educational theory, other secular sources, and bring them on as we're the hands on deck to help us in our task. But we really need to return to biblical fidelity and understanding what our task is. Therefore, as I think about preparing Christian educators for the future Ministry of the Church, I really believe that we are to call folks back to sound biblical, theological thinking. And what I have in mind is a call ultimately to deeper levels of integration away from a sort of a hyper compartmentalization or hyper specialization where people think that if I'm a Christian educator, I study education and think of it rather than know if I'm a Christian educator, I study Bible, I study theology, I study history, and I study education, and I bring these tools together. Integration rather than hyper specialization. So the first re affirmation we need to make is to a biblically based starting point that relates to the why question. The second one relates to the what question? What shall we teach? And the second commitment I believe we must reaffirm is a commitment to obeying and teaching the faith.


Obeying and teaching the faith. Christian educators need to address the appalling biblical illiteracy that faces the church today. And it's not just biblical illiteracy. It's life illiteracy. Dr. Walter Kaiser, in a conversation that I have with him not so long, long ago, said As deeply concerned as he is about biblical illiteracy, he finds himself equally concerned about life, illiteracy, that people in the church simply don't know how to live as Christians. Well, part of the problem is we've lost sight of what the Bible means when it says the faith. Much in Christian education in the last decades has put the focus on faith development, faith, nurture, faith training. And when we do that kind of emphasis, we're doing something critical. But notice what we mean by faith in the faith that we're talking about. When I'm speaking about helping someone in their own faith development is that person's subjective experience of faith. It's their personal faith response to the living God. In the Bible, there are two ways of looking at this word faith. One of them is subjective and personal, and it speaks about our response to God's revelation. My Faith. For example, Hebrews Chapter 11. Faith is the evidence of things. Hope for the substance of things not seen without faith. It is impossible to please God who comes to God must believe that He is. That He rewards those who diligently seek Him by faith. We understand that the world was made from things that are not. And on it goes in Hebrews 11 critical aspects of faith. But in Hebrews 11, the view of faith is our response to the God who has revealed himself to us. Critical as that is, that's not the whole story. The Bible also speaks of faith in a different way.


It speaks of it as something very objective, something timeless. And it calls it the faith with the definite article. For example, in Jude three, Jude says, We must earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the Saints or throughout the Book of Acts. We read a people who became obedient to the faith, or we read from the Pauline letters of people who wandered away from the faith. Well, the faith that was once for all delivered to the Saints is an objective body of truth. It's the Gospel and all of the gospel implications that we must believe, submit to obey, proclaim, teach their faith. And again, this relates to the issue of content. Probably we have to go back and understand this development a little bit. Historically, I believe there was a pendulum swing in decades past where people had had the impression that much of what was done in the way of Christian education was so content oriented. Perhaps the thought was that, well, if you memorize this content, we've done our job, you can articulate and re re regurgitate for me the answers to this catechism or or give me back X number of Bible verses. Then we've done our job because we've given you the content. And people saw rightly that that's wrongheaded. And so they tried to correct that by emphasizing the need of real personal faith development and community faith development. And that's critical, and that's important. But unfortunately, I think the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction now that while we have all kinds of help in terms of how to help people grow in their faith and grow cognitively and effectively and etcetera, we have lost sight, frankly, in the evangelical church of what it is that we must teach.


What is the faith that was once for all delivered to the Saints? It's an interesting thing. You can see it in a lot of the literature that comes out in Christian education. Also youth ministry books, even adult education books. Look at recent books that have come out and Christian publishers over the last several years, the last couple of decades. And what you'll find over and over and over again are books on how to teach, where to teach, when to teach, whom to teach, who to all those other questions we've talked about, the one question that's almost never seriously addressed in a systematic and sustained way is What must we teach? What must we teach? So we need to be rediscovering the historic content of Christian education. Actually, it turns out that we're kind of living in a in a modern phenomenon of being in the evangelical community today where people don't even have basic agreement about what the essentials of our teaching really should be. For most of the history of the church, there was widespread agreement that there are certain things that. Absolutely must be taught to every Christian. I don't want to give the whole lecture here, but just to give an example, Martin Luther said that every person should know the creed, the commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and that if a person didn't know these things, that person out not to be called a Christian and ought not to be admitted to the sacraments of the church. This is kind of an example of that idea. And Luther, in saying that, said that what he was presenting was simply the historic understanding that the church always had in its training of people in the faith, that there are some things which are essentials.


If you went to any given college and you said, I want to go to college down the road and said hello, I'd like to enroll in the college and I'd like to be a business major. The college admissions folks probably wouldn't give you a catalog and say, Well, here you are, Here's 300 classes. Just pick any any that you like. And when you're done, we'll call you a business major. Now, they wouldn't do that. They would say you're if you're going to be a business major, here's the core of what you must study. And then in addition to this core, you'll have some flexibility for electives. Well, we know this in every other area of life, but we don't seem to know it in the evangelical church today. People come in Bible studies galore on any topic galore, but very little help in discerning what is essential and what is peripheral, what are core issues, what are more elective issues. And so one of the things we have to really affirm reaffirm is a commitment to the faith that was once for all deliver to the saints, know the faith, obey the faith, teach the faith, pass the faith on from generation to generation is a call to move away from overemphasis on pragmatism. What works? And emphasis shifting to faithfulness. What has the Scripture given us? What's been handed us that we must pass on from generation to generation? That's the second. Commitment is critical for a reaffirmation. And the third and final one that we'll look at today, we need to recommit or reaffirm to this commitment to cooperative servant leadership. We need to reaffirm a commitment to co-operative servant leadership in Christian education. This relates to the WHO question. Remember, as we spoke about the WHO question, the first part of that was whose job is Christian education after all? Well, it turns out that a tracing of the scriptures will make it very clear that there are a lot of players in Christian education in the church.


Parents are to teach. Pastors are to teach gifted teachers by the Holy Spirit or gifted and called to teach elders a call to teach. Mature Christians are called to teach less mature Christians, older women to teach younger women. Older men to teach younger men. And on and on it goes. We need to understand that teaching in the church requires the cooperation at servant cooperation of so many players. And we all have to be involved in this. And particularly my concern is that pastors be reminded in this day that they are to be Christian educators. I have the opportunity to go to lots of Christian education conferences where people will gather in regional conferences, hundreds of them, thousands of them will come together, teachers of all sorts, lay leaders of all sorts. They'll come to be better equipped as teachers and leaders in the church. And I'm always astounded by the tragic underrepresentation of pastors. Pastors. By and large, don't go to Christian education conferences. And if you ask them about that, they say, well, we send our people for that. We send our people for that. Well, this represents something really tragic in the life of the church. If pastors don't see themselves as really critical Christian educators in the church, that church is in a heap of trouble because who, after all, has been specifically called specifically gifted and specifically equipped in most churches to teach to pass on the faith that we were talking about? Well, in most cases, it's the pastor. The tendency of pastors today to look away from this is really, again, kind of a modern phenomenon. It may be in part an unintended consequence of the Sunday school movement, the Sunday school movement. Just to give a little tracing of the history here, the Sunday school movement began late 18th century in England, swept across the ocean to the United States and North America.


The Sunday school movement, which we now identify for the most part, most evangelical churches in North America, look at Sunday School as the beginning and the end of their Christian education. Talk to most churches about Christian education. They'll tell you about their Sunday school, and that's it. Well, the interesting thing is this is a modern phenomenon. It sprung up late 18th century. It was primarily a labor movement until later adopted by the churches. And it wasn't actually a Christian education movement when it began. It wasn't primarily about building disciples. It was primarily about outreach and evangelism and compassion. It was a ministry to street kids, pull them off the street, educate them, teach them, and hopefully give them the gospel and get them into Christian community. But it was not really a teaching ministry of the church so much. It was a lay outreach movement. Well, eventually the church adopts this and we get to the point over time where in North America today, most churches, as I said, think of Christian education and identify it with Sunday School. An unintended unhappy outcome of this whole movement has been that as Sunday School became the chief Christian education model in most of our churches. More and more pastors began to backpedal. This was a labor movement from the beginning, and it's remained primarily L.A. movement to this very day. Most Sunday school programs are staff primarily by laypeople, and it's a wonderful thing to get the laity involved, get the people of God involved. That's a wonderful thing. And by all means, we ought to be finding gifted teachers and equipping gifted teachers and raising gifted teachers up to teach and not to be on the pastors shoulders alone. But the unhappy and unintended consequences is that prior to this movement, pastors almost certainly would have regarded themselves as the chief or one of the chief Christian educators in their congregations.


And now often they do not. Now they're on to other things preaching, inspiring messages, being CEOs, casting vision, but not being teachers of the flock. We we need to read authors like the great Richard Baxter's classic book called The Reformed Pastor to get a vision of what pastors use to see their role. As what pastors are to see the role. As if a pastor is not a teacher, then we're in we're in deep trouble in our church. Not the pastors alone are to do this task. Indeed, cooperative servant leadership means that we need to find all of those who are called to be teachers and work together toward a common goal. Specifically, the church really needs to be challenged in helping to equip parents to be the teachers that they can be and do whatever we can to strengthen the hand of parents in the home. Ultimately, this is a call back to genuine community away from a radical individualism and to genuine community away from thinking only about what my little piece of the puzzle is and thinking that all of us are together in community and we all have a commitment to raise up disciples in the life of the church. Well, again, this relates to the WHO question There are then three commandments that we need to reaffirm. Three that will be key in our considerations together in this class, Lord willing, that is recommitment to a biblical based starting point, a recommitment to the faith that was once for all delivered to the Saints and a recommitment to cooperative servant leadership for Christian education in the church. That includes pastors as well as parents and lay teachers. Look forward to exploring these things together with you as the Lord enables us. God bless you. Let's close and prayer.

Father, we thank you for the good things that you've revealed to us. And your word pray that increasingly by your spirit, we would understand those things and move in them with greater faithfulness and greater integrity for the glory of God and for the sake of the kingdom. Amen.