Educational Ministry of the Church - Lesson 18

Weaving the Curriculum Together

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

Gary Parrett
Educational Ministry of the Church
Lesson 18
Watching Now
Weaving the Curriculum Together

Confluence: How do we teach?

Part 3

IV.  Weaving the Curriculum Together

The examples below illustrate how the content may affect the ways in which we teach. The chart is merely suggestive of the kind of issues the teacher must consider when constructing the curriculum.

© Gary Parrett

Confluence: How do we teach?

Part 4

V. Greek Terms

A. Paideia (paideia)

2 Timothy 3:16

B. Nouthesia (nouqesia, nouqetew)

Colossians 1:28

C. Didache (didach)

Acts 2:42

D. Katecheo (kathcew)

1 Corinthians 14:19


Contexts: Where do we teach?


I.  The Learning Environment

A.  What?  to How?  to Where?

B.  Practical vs. Ideal

C.  Three Contexts

1.  Worship Service

2.  Christian School Movement

a.  Strengths

b.  Problems

c.  Challenges

3.  Homeschool Movement

  • 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 
Weaving the Curriculum Together 
Lesson Transcript


Our questions really affect one another. But particularly this is to illustrate that what we teach can affect how we teach. What we teach can affect how we teach that in any teaching episode or preaching episode as well. I always want to start with this question Why am I doing this again? What's the point? What's the goal? And I keep before me the idea that this is about presenting everyone complete in Christ, that we be conform to the image of the sun that we grow towards or in justification, sanctification, vocation, glorification. Those are all just some brief reminders of the concept idea. But notice that we could be teaching in one of these areas. For example, if I'm teaching in the way, if I'm teaching the way in the way is summed up I think best by love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. So that's the essential content of the way we talked about doing that through the Ten Commandments. If that's what I'm teaching, that has implications for the how. If I really want to teach the way of God in the way of God is love your neighbor as yourself. Yeah, I could use lecture for that, but ultimately lecture is not going to cut it. That may be a good starting point. Let people understand what God's way is at a cognitive level. But ultimately to teach that well, I have to teach them by engaging the hands and teaching by doing would probably make the greatest sense. So Jesus best lessons here on teaching the way involve sending his disciples out into uncomfortable context to love their neighbors.


Once you decide the how question and see how automatically that affects the where question. If the how question is we have to get at this really by doing that means you've got to get up out of your formal setting and go to an informal setting here. In the case of the disciples, Jesus takes them out into the lived world. And if we're going to train people in our churches, really how to love their neighbors, we're going to have to do the same. You can talk about in a Sunday school all you want. That's not going to do it unless the pastor says to his congregation. All right, guys, it's time for us to go out and love our neighbors and it's not going to happen. And probably what will happen is the James 122 truth will happen. We will be self perceived as will convince ourselves that we love our neighbors when in fact we probably don't. So we have to do it. That changes the how, that changes the where, where and how our always especially linked context issue is always especially linked to the how question. The WHO question also is affected by these issues. If what I'm teaching is the way the most powerful thing that it implies about me as a teacher, I need to be a model. The best way for me to teach that is not through shouting at people or lecturing people or asking questions. Even the best way for me to teach the way ultimately is to be a model. I have to walk the way of God myself. The whom question The one question. These are not as clearly connected, but these are questions we ask on an ongoing basis. And I'll return to these after we walk through the chart.


If I'm teaching the truth, remember what we meant by the truth is I'm focusing now on the specific doctrines of Scripture, and particularly the truth. And the New Testament is linked to the person and work of Jesus. But if I'm teaching what Christians believe now, not so much how Christians behave, but what Christians believe will may be an appropriate focus. And again, all these are just suggestive lines, not hard, fast lines, but just for the point of emphasis, maybe an emphasis that's appropriate now to teach the truth is a focus on the mind. And maybe in this case, lecture is a good model here. I would say, especially if I'm at the at the level of consumer rather than producer. And what my main point is, is I just want people to know this stuff. This is so basic to your faith. You need to know this stuff that if that's the case, then a lecture is a makes a lot of sense. If I was doing an elective Bible study about some other measure, maybe question and answer kind of format makes sense. Maybe inductive Bible study is the best format, but if I'm laying out the basics of the faith. Maybe an inductive approach is not the best approach to that. This is just a thought. You have to think about this. But so much of what's going on, especially at the level of adult Bible study today, is all inductive based stuff. And you go to the bookstores and you find inductive kind of Bible study materials. Well, the problem with an inductive Bible study guide is this only as good as the leader of that Bible study. If you have someone reading that Bible study who doesn't really know how to handle Scripture very well and doesn't know doctrine very well, doesn't know the theology of the church very well, then unfortunately, that could degenerate real quickly into just a time of shared ignorance and can actually reinforce one of the great problems in the church today, which is everything's relative.


Everything is subjective. Well, how do you feel about this passage? What does this passage mean to you? That's helpful and that's appropriate. But that's not where I want to be when I'm teaching the basics of the faith. Basics of the faith shouldn't be handled that way. I'm not entirely that way. That might be a component, but it shouldn't be the whole. So again, once I decide what I'm teaching, that's going to affect how I teach it. Maybe in this case, then the where the context, a formal setting does make sense. Maybe classrooms a good place to do this kind of thing. I think seminary, for example, is a marvelous context in some respects and a horrible context in other respects. This is a great place to be to to learn the basics of the faith, to learn exegetical tools, to learn some principles for ministry. But if we leave it at this, this is your whole education. I mean, big trouble. You may feel sometimes you could leave seminary and feel like it. That was it. That's all they gave me. Put me in a class and give me some books and that's it. And once you're out in pastoral ministry, you're going to find out that, as many of you know this already, and that's that's not it. But in fact, this is not it. This is not all you're left with here. There is the mentor ministry component. But what I would encourage you most is don't walk away from seminary, of course, thinking, oh, I've got my learning done now. In some ways, obviously, it's just the beginning. The context for your learning changes when you leave seminary and now you're you're learning goes on in a new context. Context of actual hands on ministry day by day.


I do wish there were ways for us to incorporate more of that here and now. I wish there were ways to do that. And if we really if we took this same idea and applied it to the seminary level and really wrestled with it hard, what are we aiming at again? If we ask that question seriously enough, it would change everything about how we do things. Probably the issue of grades would be revisited, the class size would be revisited, all kinds of things. But unfortunately we deal with other sorts of realities and some of them include financial realities and some of them include tradition, you know, the way things have always been done. But at least in the church level, I would encourage you go back to the church and constantly be asking these questions, Why are we doing this again? What are we aiming at? What are we teaching that it affects you? How always affects the where and who do I need to be on the issue of? If I'm teaching the truth, if that's the primary stream that I'm in now, I think what I need to demonstrate as a teacher is that I myself am a student of the truth. Not that I'm presenting myself as the expert of the truth. I've got this mastered. Which who of us comes anywhere close to that? Just back to that little illustration we gave early in class. What percentage of the knowledge of the universe have I mastered now? What can I ever be better Student. So if I'm really going to teach the truth, the best thing I can give to my students is make myself a committed student of the truth. If I'm teaching the life and remember here the focus on life was this How do I have a communion with the living God? Well, maybe the heart is an appropriate focus here.


This is not primarily about, you know, the right things doctrinally, and it's not primarily about how you behave. On a ethical issue either. Here. This is talking about communion with the living God, maybe, or focus on the heart is appropriate here. Some soul shaping exercises might work here. For example, prayer, worship, those kind of things. And maybe an informal setting is the best setting for these things to take place. So in the life of the church, some people would separate out the worship experience and not call that part of Christian education, but think see what happens when we use our terminology a little bit differently. We talk about Christian formation. And clearly the worship service is a key part of that. It's forming me and my understanding of how to commune with the living God. What can the teacher do? Again, the teacher herself or himself is a thirsty participant in the life of calm and a thirst to partake her. I wanted to think of the psalmist. That's where I'm getting this imagery as the dear parts of the streams of living waters on my soul long after you are gone. If I'm teaching the story what God is doing in history and what my place is in the story, maybe here the use of drama or other forms of storytelling are appropriate. Methodology lecture can be appropriate here for sure. I think action can be appropriate here, but I think dramatization can be powerful here as well. Formal and informal context that use of the church here, and I think even the ongoing use of sacraments of baptism, the Lord's Supper, are useful in telling the story. And what is my my role as a teacher? I'm a co participant in the story that God is telling, and I'm eager to do it.


So when we think about the how question. Go back back up a little bit and see how the how is affected by what you're teaching. And you'll see that the how question affects where you teach and who you need to present yourself as. As you teach the whom question. How might these materials, whatever it is I'm teaching, be presented in ways that make them as culturally accessible as possible? I'll come back to that one second. And then on the when question, How can we build upon previous knowledge of the learners, prepare them for future learning? And how should my knowledge of my learners developmental levels affect my teaching? All of these components begin to be woven together. This is sort of just suggestive about how you can begin to think like this. Okay. We had done this with some Hebrew terms. I want to do a couple of key Greek terms for New Testament. I'll just put up these four words for now. These words, just as we saw from some of the Hebrew, Hebrew words in teaching. They help us understand what a little bit about the how of teaching that teaching is more than just passing on information. Well, these words do the same at the level of the Greek. They're all related to the idea of teaching. But they bring out different aspects of teaching pi day idea. We get our word pedagogue from there in pedagogy, for example. Literally has to do with training up a child. So, you know the verb form here. Padua would mean to train up a child, but it also has built into it the idea of discipline, chastening. So Pidio has some connotations of moral and spiritual nurture that that involves some sort of discipline or chastening or training component to it.


Training, discipline for spiritual nurture, moral and spiritual nurture, for example. Second Timothy 316. The Word of God is useful for teaching and rebuking, correcting and training and righteousness. Is that last part instruction and righteousness. That's an example of how you hear new things here. This word with SCA is really related to admonition and warning. Remember from Colossians 128 hymn we proclaim teaching and admonishing all people. There's the word admonition, SCA, warning, admonition, calling someone's attention to something. This also has a little bit of perception idea built into it. Calling someone's attention to something and then admonishing them and warning them did okay is more of a general term about teaching. It's probably the most general term. It's usually just rendered teaching. For example, in Acts 242, they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching. When it comes to the teaching of the Apostles, I think has built into it the idea of something authoritative and something objective reminds us of the concepts of the truth and the faith that we've seen elsewhere. And then this word we also looked at cacao, literally meaning to RICO and shows up in a host of words. Catechesis Is this process of training somebody in the basics or the essentials of the faith? A catechist is the teacher who does this catechesis. The student is the catechism and the one who receives this informal school of this that we saw in the early church. Sometimes formal, sometimes informal is called the Catechism Minute. And then in the Reformation period and beyond, with the advent of the printing press, we have written forms of catechesis we call the catechism. All that comes from the same word. And this is used by Paul again in first Corinthians 14. Keep in mind that these terms, along with the Hebrews terms, just open up our understanding that how we teach is beyond just the idea of a lecture.


One last comment about a lecture. Someone has defined a lecture as that means of communication, in which information passes from the notes of the instructor to the notes of the student without ever passing through the minds of either. It doesn't have to be so I pray that it's not so. Yesterday. The main point that I wanted to make about this question is that it does need to be tied to the question and it's sort of automatically linked to the question and those three questions in particular of the seven. These are the three that just have to be linked and they need to be thought of, I think, in this kind of an order. What is it again that I'm teaching? What am I trying to teach based on what it is that I'm trying to teach that should help me determine how I'm going to teach that are most effective, most effectively. And then once I know the how, then that automatically begins to help dictate the where. The only thing that mediates here is practical versus ideal. I might decide what I have to teach. And then I bumped into some practical problems about the how and the where. For example, if I were teaching Old Testament geography, what would be the best answer for the where you take your folks on a plane and you go to Israel? And that's the ideal context to teach you, obviously. But that may not be feasible all the time. And some of the issues of context that it bumps into feasibility problems in other ways. If you could think of, well, the ideal classroom for our young people would be would look like this again because of economic reasons, maybe two thirds of the world can never experience such a classroom.


So there's practical problems that bump into this. But generally, if I determine what I'm going to teach, that will help me understand what how to teach it and the how will determine the context. The other thought about context, just to pay attention to three things which often are not paid attention to in discussions of Christian education. I think, again, the worship service is huge as a context for teaching going back to our three spheres. I don't like the idea of making worship into primarily Christian education because then you compromise its fundamental purpose, which is worship. Just like I don't think it's right to turn worship into evangelism. But always remember that there is an evangelistic component of worship, and certainly there is a Christian formation component of worship. If you want to read a little bit more in this area, I mentioned this book before Walter Brueggemann Israel's Praise Docs oLogy Against Ideology, and he's using the book to describe how praise shaped Israel's understanding of the world. And some of the language is not, you know, not that comfortable for evangelical ears. But it raises the idea is very well, the worship service is one. And then in recent years, a couple of movements which are really context related movements in the area of Christian education. One is the Christian school movement. The Christian school movement is a powerful movement. But I would say the greatest strength of the Christian school movement is that it has wrestled with this idea of context a little bit. Part of what we said we raised this question earlier that unless we get serious about the idea of sort of seven day a week, 24 hour a day discipleship, we can't expect the same kind of transformation that we saw in the New Testament, perhaps the Ministry of Jesus, If we're not going to make discipleship the way Jesus did, we're always going to have some shortcomings.


Well, one of the one of the strengths of the Christian school movement is this idea that you're able to immerse children in a context of learning. It's not just a one hour a week, it's Sunday school, and then perhaps even going into a public school context where often they have to do battle socially, intellectually, morally, you almost have to do battle sometimes as a public school student. These days, this says, well, let's have a context which allows more time and touches, touches the person more holistically. There's problems with the Christian school movement, and there are problems of perhaps making people become a little too ingrown and not paying enough attention to the call to be salt and light in their problems. Because sometimes people, parents will send their kids to a Christian school, not necessarily for the right reasons, but thinking that this is a safe haven for my kids. Even down at Christian colleges today, there's a flood of people coming into Christian colleges who are coming in because their parents think it'll be a just a safe place. And a lot of them come to Christian colleges and realize that the school realizes right away that they're not really Christians. Mom and dad just have the notion that this would be safer for them. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes at a Christian school movement whether. It's elementary or high school or college sometimes. There's a problem of almost an inoculation problem where people get a little bit too much in some ways, too much exposure to the gospel, almost get inoculated against it sometimes. If such a thing is possible, you sort of see that sometimes. For example, one of the ways that shows up is there are a lot of folks at Christian schools, at Christian college, or a Bible college who wind up every Sunday, a Bedside Baptist.


They go they don't go to church on Sunday because they convinced themselves, well, you know, here I am. I'm in a Christian context all the time. And sometimes it's the Christian student at a public university is fighting for his faith every day who's more faithful in spiritual discipline and more faith on church attendance and things like that. But I expect that the Christian school movement in the United States is going to continue to boom. This has been very big on the West Coast for quite a while. East Coast, there are a lot of Catholic schools, but you'll see more and more evangelical schools springing up. But there's going to be a tension that these schools are going to have to wrestle with because more and more non-Christian parents or marginal Christian parents are going to want to send their kids to these schools. A, just because of safety issues and B, because of educational issues. Typically, these schools will accomplish a lot more at an educational level than a public school does. They'll have higher standards, they'll have more discipline and they'll have fewer students and they'll just they'll do more academically. A lot of times. So now the Christian schools already, I think, are being challenged with this. What is our mission? And there's a conflict because some perceive that the primary mission of the Christian school is to provide a safe place for our kids. Will it be a viable. Or others will say the primary mission is to provide a context for seeing the whole world through Christian lenses. And you could make some very strong biblical arguments for that. Such an approach to teaching. But others will say maybe, maybe this is God's opportunity. Maybe this is the season of opportunity.


We have a world desperately looking for help, and they're coming knocking on our doors and saying, Can you provide something for my kids? Well, it's interesting. A lot of parents may not be so keen on this idea. Christian parents, just like if you're at a church that has an active youth ministry and the youth ministry suddenly gets very active in outreach. A lot of parents of those youth ministry, ministry kids, the good kids, quote unquote, in church, get very troubled when the not so good kids start hanging around the church. Same tensions happening in the Christian school to strengths here. Number one, I think is just the content itself. Looking at all of the things under the principle that all truth is God's truth, but also the idea of context here we've opened up the context and now it's five days of instruction in a Christian environment, Christian context. The other movement, of course, this sort of parallel is the homeschool movement. Homeschoolers usually tend to fall into one of two camps. Either they're evangelicals or, let's say three camps. They're evangelicals or Catholics, or they are very liberal people. In Massachusetts, there are two major homeschool organizations. One is explicitly Christian, the other one is not the one that's not. You would tend to find people who, you know, they just don't like fitting into the typical boxes of society. They're liberal, they think differently, and they want to have some freedom in raising their kids. They don't want someone else dictating to them what's best for their children. So sometimes it's sort of a strange set of bedfellows. But here again, part of the issue is context. Someone might say biblically, Now, wait a second, when did I ever get permission as a parent to take my child and at age five or six and ship that child off for 30 or 40 hours a week to non-Christian folks who are going to shape my child? And some will say, you know, this whole idea that this is the way it's supposed to be, this is a very modern idea that may take my five year old child out of my home and let someone else shape my child for 30, 40 hours a week.


And there are some Christians who will just protest. That's not that's not right. It's giving away my my biblical mandate. I'm supposed to be the one as parent who's primarily shaping my child. So I'm going to do it and I'm going to open up again, expand the context for more time in this context, which is supposed to be both in Old Testament and New Testament understanding, I think you'd have to say for a child in the faith, the primary context for their faith training is to. Host to be the home, the home and then the community of faith. And a lot of people today are just wrestling with the implications of this and say, hmm, maybe this means I should homeschool. Maybe this means I should I should send my child to a Christian school. Others are very concerned and different perspective, saying, I don't want to be training my child for a life of isolationism. And we supposed to be engaged in society. So we're going to raise our kid this way. Personally, I don't think there's any right answer here. These are difficult issues. But as a parent, once again, once you reach school age for your kids, you're going to be wrestling with this. In the fifties, in the United States, you could almost make a case in the United States that the public schools were parochial schools for Protestants because Protestant values often not the theology, but some of the basic values were kind of reinforced. And for many, many years, Catholics felt that they were marginalized by this Protestant feel in the public school. So they created their own schools. And of course, Jewish community has its own schools. And now we see Muslims communities come in with their own schools, etc..


But you certainly no one would charge today's United States public schools with being Protestant parochial schools. Not exactly. And there are a lot of issues. So it's a struggle. A lot of parents decide there's no one right answer for each of their kids. Maybe I have three kids. One does great in a homeschool environment because it's individualized instruction. Somebody else can't work in that environment. They need to be in the Christian school environment. Or often you'll see people who've done Christian schooling or homeschooling for their children for several years and then find that their child is watching and and their estimation ready to go to a public school. It's a tough one. It's a tough one. But their strengths for the issue of content and context on both of these, there's challenges about our Great Commission involvement. If you're if you're not a parent yet, I can almost promise you you'll be asking these questions pretty soon. When you do become parents, that basic thing that I wish we could we could equip our parents with is the understanding that regardless of how you do this, regardless of what decision you come down with, you have to own the fact that you are fundamentally responsible for the faith shaping of your child. So if if in order to fulfill that you homeschool, great. If you're in order to do that, you send to a Christian school, great. But don't assume the sending to a Christian school is going to be everything that you want it to be for your child. And if you send your child to a public school, then you just have to be very involved parent. You have to know what's going on at the school and you have to be talking with your kids about what's going on. So yeah, just be able to communicate that to our to our parents. All right. Well, environment issue. Think about the environment and ask yourself the question. Under the issue of context, just ask yourself the question, where can transformation really occur?