Educational Ministry of the Church - Lesson 9

What Must We Teach? (Parts 3 & 4)

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

Gary Parrett
Educational Ministry of the Church
Lesson 9
Watching Now
What Must We Teach? (Parts 3 & 4)

Content: What must we teach?

Part 3

III.  Toward a CORE Curriculum for the Church

A.  Comprehensive - touching the entire life of the Church, and of the believer

B.  Orthodox - biblically and historically affirmed by the Church

C.  Reforming - teachings that form, reform, transform lives

D.  Essentials - concerning 'primary,' rather than 'secondary,' doctrines




(Eph. 2:10)


Additional materials may include:


- denominational distinctives


- church history


- timely emphases




(2 Tim. 2:15)










our code


our creed


our communion

(John 14:6)


3 - HIM WE PROCLAIM! (Col. 1:28)


2 - 'THE STORY' (Luke 24:27)

from beginning to new beginning


1 - THE GOSPEL (1 Cor. 15:1-11)

'as of first importance'


© Gary Parrett

Part 4

IV.  Delivery Systems

A.  Key Delivery Systems

1.  Bible Studies

2.  Sunday School

3.  Small Groups

4.  Sermon

a.  Evangelical focus

b.  Exhortational focus

c.  Educational focus

5.  Working Model

a.  Sermon - The Way - Exhortation

b.  Bible Study - The Truth - Education

i.  Core classes

ii.  Electives

B.  Membership Training

C.  Systematic Approach

1.  Core - Two quarters

2.  Electives - Two quarters

3.  Working Model

  • 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 
What Must We Teach? (Parts 3 & 4) 
Lesson Transcript


What I'm proposing is a core curriculum for the church. Let me give you some just thoughts about why I think this is important. If I some of you are from different backgrounds, but if you were an adult today who was not raised Catholic and wanted to become Catholic, if you went to a local Catholic church and said, I'd like to become a Catholic, I know people have done this because my wife did it. I'm not sorry my sister did. That's not my wife. My wife did it. She hasn't told me. My sister did this because she married a Catholic years ago. She was nominally Protestant, married a nominal Catholic, and they were fine until they had kids. And then they thought, well, we should probably make a decision. So my sister said, Well, I'll follow you. I'll become Catholic. For her to become Catholic as an adult, she had to go through a series of instruction. She had to go through catechesis. There is something called the RCI in the Rite of Christian Initiation for adults. It's practice in the Catholic Church and in good and good settings settings. The norm would be if I want to become a Catholic from a non-Catholic background, I'm an adult. I have to be categorized before I'm admitted to the church. If I'm a non-Jew and I want to become a Jew, I'll find the same thing. I'll have to sit down with the rabbi week after week after week and be instructed in that the ideas and the practices and the values of the Jewish faith. I know this from a plain conversation with a guy who, again nominally Catholic, married a nominal Jew.


They were okay till they had children. And then he said, Well, I'll change. So he became a Jew. That's how committed he was to his Catholicism. So if I want to become a Catholic as an adult, I'll be categorized. If I want to become a Jew as an adult, I'll be educated. If I wanted to become an evangelical as an adult, I can show up at the door one day and be the new Sunday school superintendent the next. Wouldn't be surprised to see something like that happen. It's almost as bad as that. Certainly, you could become a new Sunday school teacher. The next thing that happens all the time, I've literally seen it happen. I've literally seen it happen where the latest warm body in the church became a new teacher even before anybody asked if she were a Christian, she was a new teacher. So evangelicals have tended to come up a little bit short here, and this is reflected in a lot of Christian education by the fact that in much Christian education curriculum, few you even even go to our Christian or the curriculum sections of the bookstore here. You could find a host of things that mean a thousand topics. You could find it all kinds of topics, all kinds of books of the Bible to study relevant topics, pertinent topics. Christian in the world, Christian in the home, Christian in the marketplace, everything. But it's almost all presented as though these are equally valued electives. Take your pick. And it's amazing to me that evangelicals don't get it. How could we think that there is that everything that can be taught is an elective, But that's sort of what we do. You went down to Gordon College and said, Hi, I'm here.


I want to become a I want to become a business major. They would give you a catalog of a 150 class and say, Well, just pick some that you like. They'd say, okay, you want to be a business major. Here's your core. You have to know this. You have some space for electives and you have to know that almost any area of life we'd understand this, but the evangelical church doesn't understand about the faith. Partly, we see some historical components to this, but what I'm saying is we have to identify something that we identify as fundamental, essential, non-negotiable. If you're going to call yourself a Christian, you need to be encountering this stuff, have encountered this stuff. So I use the word core, a core curriculum for the church. And I planned with the word core a little bit here and make a little acronym out of it. Core meaning C comprehensive, touching the entire life of the church, the entire life of the believer. Not just the head, but the whole person. Or stand for Orthodox. And what I mean by Orthodox is things which are biblically and historically affirmed by the church. Not something new, not something novel, but always understood in the mainstream of historic Christianity. R stands for Reforming Not Reformed, although I don't think that's a bad idea myself. But reforming, reforming, that's more of a unity, liberty matter. Reforming here means these are not just teachings for the head. These are teachings that will change your life because the truth will set us free and transform us. And then finally, E stands for essentials that is concerning primary rather than secondary doctrines. Comprehensive Orthodox reforming essentials. That's what I have in mind here. I'm putting together my own survey of biblical things and historical things, and this is what I propose as a first important step one.


We teach the gospel. Paul When he uses it, I think in almost a sense of catechesis, First Corinthians 15 four, I passed on to you as a first importance, but I also see that Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures that He was buried, that He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures. And as we saw before, we never in Christian education want to be guilty of making the mistake that everybody sitting in church is a Christian. So we need to make sure that we have taught the gospel, said the gospel as many ways as possible. The second step and actually the second step, the way this could be processed is interesting. But the content piece itself, I'll call the story and I'm thinking about Augustine, who said, We tell the catechist the big Bible drama. Augustine said, Go from creation up to the present life of the church. I would say go from creation to new creation. That is the new heavens in the new Earth that are to come. Tell that story and church history. You might want a sandwich in the middle, but I would put it in with an asterisk next to it because church history, I don't think inspired quite the same way the scripture is. But tell the biblical story, including what God is planning for eternity, not just up to the present life of the church. Jesus does this in Luke 2427, on the road to a mass encounters those disciples, beginning with Moses and the Prophets. He reveals everything that the Scripture said concerning himself. So he's the first teller of the story that we have on record like that in the New Testament. And then the third stage in catechesis is where I get to the way the truth and the life is.


The threefold stream of teaching that's historically understood. And I label adhere him to proclaim him. But we're filling out what we mean by proclaiming Jesus. That is what life does he offer, what mysteries of God to see unfold, what way to see, walk and teach us to walk. So the way the truth and the life, our code, our creed, our communion. And then I put it down into two different thoughts for just to show you what I have here. Here's this Here's the streams of teaching waste, truth, truth and life inside the church. What these streams represent on the way it's diaconate or service and Koinonia fellowship. So inside the church we practice the way through our communion with one another and through our service of one another inside the church. The truth is, the didache is the teaching that we commit ourselves to. And inside the church the life is part of our is we experience that as later gear, which is related to the word liturgy, obviously, and it just means the worship life of the church, the worship acts of the people of God. So we celebrate that life. Maybe the celebration is a good word. What we notice missing in the catechism, if we remember our discussion of Heidelberg was an outward emphasis. I think we need to add an outward emphasis, but it turns out that you can have the outward emphasis from the same three streams of teaching. So if I take this concept of the way and instead of looking inward, I look outward, I can still be engaged in diaconate service, but also what some have call prophetic, which is working in society for justice and mercy. If I take the concept of the truth, which is the didache of the church, outside the church, it's apologia apologetics.


I engage the non believing world with the same truth and the life which we celebrate in the church as later gear outside of the church becomes our curriculum. The gospel that we proclaim curriculum means proclamation so we can actually take the same kind of truth that we're we're celebrating with one another inside the church, point it outward and be faithful to our ministry there as well. But what I really love to emphasize is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus is the way incarnate. And he shows me what pleases God. He shows me what it means to love God and love me. Remember we talked about what does it mean to be like Jesus? Well, sums up pretty well to be one who loves God and love neighbor. What does it mean to do that? Watch him, Watch him, follow him. The truth. He is the mystery of God. Unveil the life. There is no life of God apart from a relationship with Jesus. So that Christ centered focus is critical for me. So definitely, if I'm. Translating this into practical life in the church. I'm going to say, Preach Jesus, proclaim him, just do a good job, be thorough. And before, of course, we would also say Jesus is the heart and soul of the story and is the heart and soul of the gospel right. He's at the heart of all of this stuff. In fact, some people are proposing that in a modern catechesis, especially in a postmodern era, narrative is the way to go. We should focus here, tell the story. And after you think about it, if you tell the story faithfully, if the story were told as the heart and soul of your catechesis in the story, you could include the gospel.


Because the gospel in a sense, is the story and abstract. It's like the full story scrunched down into abstract. And in the story you could reveal the way of God, the truth of God, the life of God. So there could be a narrative approach to catechesis, which would make a lot of sense, as opposed to the maybe historic categorical approach. Maybe a narrative approach makes sense today, I'm not sure. But what I would say to you, I want you to think about this, learn at least this much from the wisdom of the fathers. Don't reinvent the wheel. If you're going to go out into the church, you have to at least wrestle with the implications. What do we believe? What do we believe as Christians? What do we believe as Christians in a world where truth is up for grabs and people say there is no such thing as absolute truth? We need to be more passionate about this and more clear about this than ever before. It's not the time to be fuzzy. So don't back away from truth because people don't like this sort of stuff. Time to hammer it even harder, but make sure we hit those truths which are truly the heart and soul of Christianity. And as I'm presenting them, I'm also going to draw lines personally between this is what is Christian and this is what is Baptist. I'm going to draw those lines. So find a way to do that. Now, if you are in a tradition that's uncomfortable with creeds, then you don't have to use the creed to do this. The creed, after all, is not inspired. The Apostles Creed, I think, is a very nice summary of some basic apostolic teaching, but it's not written by the apostles and it's not inspired.


You don't have to use the Creed. Some churches actually have a slogan which says No creed but Christ, no labor but love, no book. But the Bible sounds nice. Well intended. It's not true. They have creeds going on all the time. But if you're in a non creedal tradition, you don't have to use the creed if you think your people won't buy it. But you could have a class for new members. And in this new members, class one of the sections, What do we believe? You could have a class for mature believers and call it theology one or theology two. Or you could do this through Bible books. How could I get at this through a Bible book? Maybe I could spend some time in a series like Genesis, John and Romans, and I can just get at the truth that way. But somehow I have to address this need. How am I going to teach people what we believe? I also have to address this need. How do Christians act? What is the what is the lifestyle that distinguishes Christians? How do we behave? What's what are what are our ethics? I think there's no better way to get at this than through a careful understanding of the commandments. We'll save this discussion for tomorrow a little bit, but there's a number of other places I could turn to in scripture, the Sermon on the Mount. I could turn to the Book of James in the New Testament. And there's a lot of ways we can do this. I could take up contemporary ethical issues, but somehow I have to do it. What is a Christian obligation in terms of love of neighbor? And then also, I need to teach. I need to teach my people how to commune.


How do I commune with the living God? How do I have a living fellowship with God? I need to teach them to pray. I need to teach them to worship. If I'm not content with the Lord's Prayer and the sacraments is the best way to do that. Well, then maybe I can do something else. Teach, teach quiet time, teach spiritual disciplines. Teach about worship in more broad categories. Teach them I'm fine in a Bible book, it's going to be hard to do better than teach them to love and use and pray and sing the songs. But somehow these streams of teaching I have to get. So I have to get the gospel clearly. I have to get the Bible drama clearly. I have to say this is what Christians believe. This is how Christians act and this is how we commune with the living God. That's the really the heart and soul of my core. If I have believers, then I want to take them further in the core. Then I would add to it these points above, but in some way, points four and five could be subsumed in everything we've already said. Ongoing training in the Scriptures here. I think you just you never get deep enough in the scriptures. You can include some Bible introduction kind of stuff down below at the point we call the story. Or you can include it here, but certainly that kind of discussion is needed somewhere. Why is the Scriptures considered to be authoritative? How do I use the Scriptures? How do I handle the word wisely? So I would say that somehow that has to fit into a discussion of the core. Second, Timothy 215. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth or rightly dividing the word of truth.


Right, rightly handling the word of truth. And then Ephesians 210. Training and vocation. This scripture verse that we leave off our memory work in the church all the time. We stop at Ephesians two nine. Not by work so that no one can boast throwback verse ten in their pleas for We are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. And then we continually are training people to lay hold of their vocation, their calling for God. So ongoing training, the Scriptures, ongoing training, vocation, and then off on the side and I set them apart with a thick line for a purpose denominational distinctness. If I'm thinking about the core teaching of my own church, it makes sense that I would have some denominational distinctions as part of that. But I'm also going to make sure my people understand there's a line between what makes us Baptist and what makes us Christian. Church history, I think, needs to be taught in the life of the church. I'm not sure where to put it on my chart here, whether you put it in as part of the story. I hesitate to do that because church history is not inspired or you put it on is this additional materials. But the church suffers tremendously from its lack of knowledge of its own history and then timely emphases, as we talked about contrasting, comparing what we as Christians believe in a post-modern world with secular ideas, pluralistic idea, things like that. Somehow this is my proposal. What I would ask of you is not necessarily that you buy this proposal, but go back to those questions that we asked earlier in class and please, please wrestle with them for the sake of the church.


What do I believe is essential to be taught? How many of the people in our church are getting it now and how are they getting it? And thirdly, how can we make sure they get more and more people get what delivery systems can we use that would be more effective than what we're using today? All right. Well, today we want to pick up from where we were yesterday, and we want to do so in a couple of ways. Yesterday, as we went through the handout, we were talking about the core curriculum. And as you could as you remember from our talk, it really is astonishing to me that we don't have we don't have people in the church today asking more and more the question, what what must we teach? And so I proposed this core curriculum, as you saw on that handout yesterday. But I want to make clear that when I say that there needs to be a core curriculum, I'm not implying at all that there's nothing else that's worthy of teaching or that that's the only thing we teach. Let's think together about just a couple of simple questions. We talked about what our teaching was and what I'm using. The question is what is essential? And we wrestled with that a little bit yesterday. What are some of the delivery systems, as I mentioned yesterday? We asked those questions in order. First, what do I believe has to be taught? Second, how many of our people do I think are getting this? Thirdly, or related to that, how are they getting it? And thirdly, what can we do to make sure that more people are getting this? What are some of the delivery systems in the church right now for getting the truth across to people? What are some of the settings in which that occurs? Okay.


Bible studies that may be scattered throughout the week and Bible studies often. I don't know about the churches at year end, but often in the churches I'm in, they're sort of presented as a very worthy option. And this is something you really ought to do. And we're always appealing and appealing. And if we appeal out enough, we may get a third of our members to participate or something and some other things. Bible studies. Let's go ahead and formally put up the Sunday school. Maybe distinct from the Bible study, we may have what we call our Bible study ministry scattered through the evening. Sunday school may be a variation of that. Small groups might be a variation of that, although typically a lot of small groups do have some Bible study component in them. Many times the Bible are the small group is probably focused more on Koinonia than on deduction. We want to go back to our terminology from yesterday. A little bit more emphasis on this experiencing community together. If you back up, though, we will call that part of the curriculum as well. That is part of what we need to teach to help transform life is teach community. So it works in that sense as well. How about other key delivery systems? Where we are? We may be able to get some of this truth across. Yeah. So I mentioned the sermon. And again, this is like a small group. The same kind of issue may occur for us. Some people may see the sermon as an inappropriate vehicle for significant teaching. If it's not a vehicle for significant teaching, what is the sermon? Well, I'm asking seriously, and I don't chuckle. What is the sermon for then? If it's not a vehicle for significant teaching, what would the sermon before? Okay.


Could be very much an evangelical kind of many ministry, a lot of churches, not just the Willow Creek model, but a lot of churches actually have a Sunday service designed for outreach and evangelism. And they find another time during the week for the for the ongoing teaching of their committed disciples. And many churches will try to have a balance in the sermon. What else could a sermon be aiming at, though, if it's not primarily about teaching truth? What else could it be? Application of truth. And let's add to the word application a related word, exhortation. So a lot of preaching is exhortation all. And the point here is not to give a lot of truth, but to bring somebody into, you know, a deeper encounter with the truth or really be confronted with the truth. So it could be evangelistic application or it could be conviction or it could be progress in your faith. Lots of different shape it could take. With this in mind, this application idea, the exhortation I do the outreach idea. Sometimes preachers are encouraged to simplify the message as much as possible and shorten it as much as possible and try not to go beyond 20 minutes in a typical setting because, you know, people will get antsy and they won't be able to pay attention and make sure you have lots of sort of entertaining elements built into it. Not that all of that's bad, but sometimes I'm concerned as a Christian educator about the the failure perhaps to seize the educational moment. We're not turning the sermon primarily into or turning the worship service into an educational encounter. So we talked about before worship is primarily for God, I think. But clearly when the early church got together, one of the things that took.


Place was when the apostles open their mouths. There was significant teaching. And if just on a sheer numbers basis, if I look at these kind of ministries and then I ask the question, all right, what's the participation of our members here? And I say, well, we have 20% involved here in Bible study, and we have 30% come to Sunday School. We're up to 40% now who are in small group. How many people in a church typically are there for the sermon? Well, it's usually a much higher percentage. This is probably the one time when we have the greatest access to our people. And I would say that at least at some level, if I'm committed to this particular kind of content, at some level in some fashion, that content may be the best spot for me to introduce it at some level. Is in the sermon. If I don't have any other mechanism in place right now, I don't have any other vehicle to really reach a larger number of people, and maybe that's what I need to do. I'll just give an example of a church church that I recently served. I walked in and as as a minister of adults for the last several years, I was always feeling the sense that I'm playing catch up in the church, that stuff that people hopefully would have learned as children they never did or learned as youth, they never did. So now I'm pastoring them as adults. And I wrestled with this very question. So I started asking, What do I believe Christians ought to know? How many of my people know this stuff? Very, very few. It was really minimal congregation of 90% young adults. And and so I said, well, where can we reach them? And two thoughts came to mind.


They did have a Bible study that had participation of about 40% of the people on Friday night. So that's pretty significant. I thought, well, maybe that's the vehicle. But then I thought we have about 80 to 90% coming on Sundays of the people who identify themselves with our church. So I said, that's very significant. And long ago I kind of wrestled with the fact that in terms of who I am anyway, I'm more teacher oriented, so I've never hesitated to use the pulpit for teaching. So I just did that. One of the things I did was one year we decided we're going to do this. We're going to hit it hard. And what we did was in that particular church I used Sunday, the sermon to teach what we've called yesterday, teach to the way and basically preach through the Ten Commandments and through other related passages in Scripture, probably a little bit more of a focus on application exhortation. But that's okay anyway, because the way is not primarily about grabbing hold of these cognitive pieces of information. It really is a call to action and a call to obedience called to live out the Word of God. And then what we did was on Friday nights where the Bible study was, there had been the pattern of the church had been that on Friday nights there were always six or I'm sorry, four or five Bible studies that were available, and they were all kind of presented as equally valid options. And you just came and you found something interesting and you studied it, and that was the model. So you picked your choice and then you studied it. But what we did was say everything that's in place right now basically could be called an elective.


That's what I call them. And I'm not sure that we have the luxury at this time of having our people being trained primarily in electives. So I had our staff together, signed on to the idea that now there is a core and we agreed to do this. So we we taught the way through the Sunday sermon and then we taught what we're calling the truth on Friday nights. Basically what I did on Friday nights with our Bible study is instead of six groups all together, I had them all come together and I led them in Bible studies. So we had one large group Bible study, and I taught essentially systematic theology on Friday night. So what do we believe as Christians? We walked through it. We prepared very extensive handouts. Probably by the time they were done, there were 70 pages that each student had. And we it was very significant time. BARTON Through with an overhead and transparencies. They'd study together for about an hour. And then I had prepared also some application discussion questions for a small group. And so they would break out at the end of an hour for another 40 minutes or so. This is a group of people used to spending all Friday night together. So we had the luxury here, all young adults. But suddenly now, instead of looking at numbers like 20% of our people who are getting the stuff we were talking about, 70% who were in some way being confronted with these things. And the other thing, which was a surprise to most of us, was that when we moved the Bible study on Friday night. To this format, and we hit it hard that this is not a negotiable item, but this is stuff that Christians ought to know.


The number went from 40% up to about 60%. And so we have huge numbers of involvement on Friday night. And of course, we had almost everybody on a Sunday. And then the the idea was we had identified we walked through this as a leadership team and identified, I think, six different things that we believed maybe could be handled one semester each that our core kind of teachings. And so we had well, we had this one on basic beliefs, we had another one on Old Testament survey or New Testament survey. The leadership walked through this together and came up with six things and then put into place a plan that said Friday nights now is going to be devoted to teaching one of those things. And eventually what the goal would be is that after we've walked through all of this stuff once, then on Friday nights there would always be at least two options or three options. One would be that core kind of class. And anybody who had never taken that would be encouraged to take it. But if you've already taken it, then there would also be one or two additional choices for you and you could take them. So that's one way you can think about the delivery systems. I do think that certainly we need to think about that. It's again, as we saw yesterday, you could have the right stuff in mind, but you may not be reaching your people. And in my mind, if that means my best shot is the pulpit, the message, what I'll do, read the preface or the introduction. That guy Packer writes to the reform pastor and find out what Richard Baxter was doing with his Sunday sermons. And he's doing exactly the same thing.


Of course, in older days, say, in the Puritan world, people who did not hesitate to preach like the messages and expect people to pay attention. We're a little bit different in the modern world, and we try very hard to accommodate the whims of people. So but I confess I have a I have a I have a reaction against that over accommodation ism. But I confess that, as I said before, my giftedness and passion is on the C side, not on the evangelism side. So I need others to balance me out and keep me in line. But the other thing that we we had mentioned before in terms of delivery systems, one thing that we can do and let me just put this one up, is tie this idea of a core to membership training. And if I'm thinking about trying to find a new delivery system, something that I look at the present delivery systems for teaching and they're just not reaching the majority of our people. Well, maybe the answer is we try a new delivery system or a new approach, and maybe the best format for what we're calling catechesis and catechesis historically is a little bit distinguished from regular ongoing teaching in the church. Catechesis is normally that initial training in the faith. So there is a distinction here and maybe catechesis can be tied to something like membership can be tied to some level to baptism, although I'm not going to buy the three years before we let you get baptized approach, maybe it's baptized and then you sign off in blood for three years after you're baptized to be catechist. But maybe we have already in place. We have a membership, we have a membership training of some sort. Maybe the current format is six weeks in a Sunday Bible study and maybe we're talking about some of the bylaws of the church for most of the time.


Well, maybe we just recast that whole thing, make it 12 weeks instead of six weeks, and instead of bylaws, that's only one week out of 12 and the other 11 weeks are catechesis. And we go into those essentials of the faith. And if there's some delivery system like that where we can we can have in place something that ensures that the majority of those who are identifying themselves with our body have already been introduced to those basics of the faith That frees up all the other delivery systems, frees them up for a lot of things. One other thought about the delivery system and then we'll move on from this. One of the thought is typically if we followed one of our regular, the traditional we'll call them neo traditional, because it's only in recent history that this has been the case. But traditionally we have a quarterly system for Sunday school and many other teaching functions in the life of the church. We divide the year into 413 week sections, so maybe a church has four quarters. Let's think about this at the level of, say, a youth group. Maybe I'm the youth director and I'm wrestling with the question. Well, you know, unless. These families move away, which is, by the way, more likely now than ever before, unless they move away. I might have this kid in my youth group for six years. What am I going to teach? What a marvelous opportunity. If we have six years of Bible study together, a Sunday school, two years Sunday school together. What am I going to be teaching my youth group? Couple of ways that I could approach this with a core and elective idea in mind. Maybe if I have four quarters in the year fourth quarter, winter quarter, spring quarter, summer quarter, maybe what I could do is quarters one and two in my youth group.


We're going to focus our Bible study together around one of those core items. We're going to study the Ten Commandments together. We're going to study prayer and worship together, something like that, the devotional life. And then we spend our fall and winter doing this as a group, but then as a good youth minister who's paying attention to the present realities of my youth. I also find out through these first six months what's going on in the youth group. What are people talking about, what's happening in the schools, and what are some of the issues that are really pertinent? And so maybe the third quarter, I turn into that spot kind of spot treatment where we we find the need and we we treat it. So here is here is where maybe I do this the third and fourth quarters. Maybe I do it for both of them, or maybe I do the first quarter for a core and the second and third are elective. But right now, most youth groups, the way it works is the youth minister teaches constantly on the elective basis. You run to the bookstore, you find the glossy cover you can find and you say, Oh, that looks interesting. Or you find the thing that looks the most relevant. When I was a youth pastor, publishers send this stuff across my desk all the time Relevant, relevant, relevant, relevant. We're so relevant. We never get to the Bible until the last 5 minutes of the Bible study. That kind of stuff. Really. People presented themselves that way. Well, I'm. I'm suggesting that maybe we shouldn't be as relevant as we are, or maybe we're not as relevant as we think we are. It's timeless. It's always relevant. You know this as a preacher, you go to the text.


You don't necessarily have to be dreaming all week about what I should preach. And you could find you could just be following a schedule you're going through, Matthew, and you just believe God. This is the word of God. It's living, it's active. It's going to teach. You take the same commitment to the youth group. Listen up, friends. We're going to talk about it. But we still we're looking for those timely emphases. That's appropriate. But I don't think it should dominate us. And then maybe the fourth quarter, which typically runs in summer, is what we take one of our themes from the year and we say, well, we talked about it all year, let's go do something. And with the youth group especially, this is great. You could spend the summer out outdoors and mission or outreach or neighborhood ministries, or ministering the youth, ministering to the children all summer long. A lot of things you could do to put some legs on the teaching. I could do the same thing if I was leading a small group of adults, by the way. Same thing. Exact. We could spend a couple of quarters on something fundamental to the faith, and then we could spend one quarter on an interesting topic or a particular book study or something like that. Any way you want to do this, and again, you could get at the core through books of the Bible, as we saw last time or through, you know, selected passages of the Bible. There's lots of ways you can do it. And then with my adult small group, we could be dreaming all year long about a summer project. What could we do outreach wise this summer? Maybe you could even succeed some day in convincing your small group to go on a mission trip together.


Short term mission trip. So this is one way to approach it another way. And related to this, again, back to youth as as an example, because I know some of you are working with different populations, but let's use youth as our example. If again, I have six years with my youth and in each of these years I'm spending half of that year on a core, then maybe what I could do is each one of these years can be devoted to one core topic. So year one, go back to those Greek words we threw out the other day. Maybe you're one is deducting the teaching of the apostles. And I use this to talk about doctrine. Or maybe you're two. The focus is on the story. Just looking at the big Bible drama and maybe you're three, the focus is on the Ten Commandments and your ethics, and maybe you're four. The focus is on the devotional life, something like this. Whatever you identify, whatever you identify as essentials. Remember, half of the year or a quarter of that year is devoted to that core. So you could have the whole youth group working on it together and the whole youth group is thinking about this together or. You could have it divided up by grades. You could have grade seven focused here, Grade eight focused here, a grade nine. Focus your grade ten focus here. Remembering again that that core is only one component of the whole year, but some system that's ensures kind of systematically as a youth minister, I'm going to be presenting my kids with these timeless truths of the Word of God that will deepen their souls. So you could do something along these lines. The last comment here that I found worked really well in a youth ministry setting and may work well in other settings as well.


One youth ministry that I was in, we had we had 245 minute segments together every Sunday. And one of those segments was typically was what we typically call a Sunday school. And the other segment was a worship experience. I told you that in the Korean-American church we had teenagers worship separately from adults because of language and culture. Well, we always had Sunday school or teaching for 45 minutes, have a five minute break, and then we had 45 minutes of a worship experience together and we had junior high. The way it worked was junior high was over here while senior high was over here. And then we flip flop. We had space limitations, but what I saw typically happening is over here, you'd study something and then you'd be asked to forget it and go over here for worship experience. And then what happens is you study something of substance here, but instead of building on that, you just ask them to block that out of your mind because we're preaching on something totally different. But what we started to do was just tie these together. So we did this as an example. I did this with the Ten Commandments. I taught youth through the Ten Commandments. And by the way, I never had, out of all my years of ministry to Youth, I never had a better Bible study experience than I had with the Ten Commandments. None of the glossy covers ever measured up to the Ten Commandments. But what we did was we take the commandments and kind of go through them in more of this traditional teaching format, small group, Bible studies, open notes, pens, that kind of stuff, looking up text, flipping through the Scripture together, talking about what this commandment means.


And then we would go into the worship service and the songs of the worship service. And the message that was preached of the worship service were exhortation, application about that message, about that truth. So an example, the first commandment you shall have no other gods before me. And we would hammer that out with our notes and Bibles, and then we would go in here and I might preach on the rich young ruler who is so in love with his money that he can't let go of it and find God and talk about that. His application. When we went to this model in youth, things improved dramatically in terms of retention, in terms of application of the word. It was really wonderful for us, and I think the same kind of model again, could take place at all sorts of levels. Many children's ministries are like this Sunday school moment, a children's worship moment instead of doing this. And then, well, let's forget about that. Let's do something else. Now look at the opportunity to drive home the truth, drive home the truth. And the same thing could be true at an adult level in a number of ways. Church that I was attending recently, we had worship service followed by adult Bible study, and our adult Bible study teacher almost always would make some reference to the sermon that we all heard together, and he would look at opportunities to tie what he was saying into what we had just heard together in our sermon. This makes all kinds of sense. Maybe I have a Bible study on Friday night and a worship on Sunday night. You could find ways. If you're thinking as a pastoral leader, you could find ways to draw those connections.


So just to summarize, then, we need to have a core in our understanding. We need to find ways to get that to as many people as possible. Our commitment to the core doesn't mean that we don't pay attention to other issues. If we're talking about training believers, usually we have believers for a number of years in the life of the church. We have lots of opportunities to teach. If you say I'm going to go to a core, you're not compromising your ability to do other things which are interesting and pertinent. But part of the commitment here is to go back to the idea that, wait a second, the word of God is relevant and it's active, and I don't have to bend over backwards to try to find something catchy and attractive to people. The overreaction in Christian education from mere transmission of content was clearly overreaction. Yeah, maybe there was some breakdown, but if it was breakdown, it was not because of the content. The content was not the problem, it was the process. And having said that, just remember that the content question. The what question? Is one out of seven that we're asking. And in reality, if we have the right content, but we don't pay attention to those other terms, we won't see transform lives either. If I don't have a contact element, for example, just giving people a catechism is not going to change their life in most cases. So you have to have attention to all of these details.