Educational Ministry of the Church - Lesson 19

The Teachers

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

Gary Parrett
Educational Ministry of the Church
Lesson 19
Watching Now
The Teachers

Contact: Who does the work of Christian Education?

Part 1

I.  The Teachers

A.  Who is charged with the task of teaching?

1.  Parents

2.  Mature Believers

3.  "One Another"

4.  Gifted Leaders

a.  Pastors

b.  Elders

5.  Spirit-gifted Teachers

6.  Holy Spirit

7.  Ourselves

B.  Who is actually carrying out the task of teaching?

1.  CE Director

2.  Sunday School Superintendent

3.  Volunteer Teachers

4.  Pastor?

C.  Helping Parents Become Teachers

1.  Feed them as believers.

2.  Train them as teachers.

3.  Involve them with their kids.

4.  Show them: modeling.

5.  Free them: time.

  • 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 
The Teachers 
Lesson Transcript


We're going to spend the bulk of our time today on the WHO question who question again reminds us of the word contact and the role of contact in transformation and formation. Let's remind ourselves again of biblically speaking who's who's charged with the task of Christian education. So tell me this. And as you tell me, give me some Bible to prove it. So who's charged with this? With this task of raising people in the faith? Okay. We have parents and we know that from, among other places, Deuteronomy six and Ephesians six. There's a couple of sixes you can tuck in your memory. There are only six and Ephesians six mature believers are to teach less mature believers Bible. Well, actually throughout the pastoral is this is part of the implication comes up in Titus two as well. So the whole idea that teach the older women to teach the younger women this principle or it shows up in second Timothy to two things which you have received from me and trust to reliable men who will be able to instruct others. There's clearly this idea, and then in the negative you have it at the end of Hebrews five and the beginning of Hebrews six, where the folks are rebuked for not being able to teach others believers in general. I think we can put that under the one another head here. So teach one another. And we saw that again in Colossians 316. We saw it also in Ephesians 519, teach one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We also see in first Corinthians 14, verse 26, when you come together, each of you has something, you bring a hymn, a word from God.


So there's clearly a one, an otherness in our teaching. Who else are we going to mention by name here? Others charged with the task of teaching in the church. Richard Baxter. Who would he say? The pastor or the pastor? Ephesians chapter four, verse 11. And if we take that passage seriously, not just the pastor then, but others especially, we open up the idea from education to formation. It's not just pastor, teacher, and there's debate, of course, in Ephesians 411 whether pastor, teacher represents one person or two. And there's still a lively debate, actually, just as there's still a lively debate about Ephesians 412 for the equipping of the Saints for the work of the ministry. There's lively debate about that as well. Does that mean that the pastor, the pastors, do the equipping of the saints and the work of the ministry, or does it mean the pastors do the equipping of the saints who do the work of the ministry? There's a debate there. There's debate about this as well. So gifted leaders, let's call these let's call this category gifted leaders. And it would include pastors and others like evangelists from Ephesians 411, but also who else would be put here? Yeah, let's put elders here as well. So gifted and appointed leaders. And as we saw before, an elder has among other qualifications, the qualification to be able to teach aptitude doesn't necessarily mean, as we discussed, doesn't necessarily mean has to be able to give a lecture, but somehow through their life, at least having to be able to teach. So we have gifted leaders, but we also have the spiritual gift of teaching. Let's let's distinguish that the spiritual gift of teaching. Some will have that. That's mentioned, of course, in Romans 12 and First Corinthians 1214.


Elsewhere, the idea of spiritual gifts of teaching. This may not be a pastor or an elder, but it could just be someone with the task of or with the capacity to teach one another. We saw. Anybody else here? I was hoping we'd get here sooner or later. All right. Yeah. We have the Person of the Spirit of God. John 1426 who will guide you into all truth. John 1613 And then first, John Chapter two versus 20 and 27, you have an anointing from the Holy one, you know, all things. And then John actually goes on to say, You don't need anyone to teach you as a mysterious statement. What does that mean? Perhaps what that means is that especially in this idea where first John, kind of confronting, among other things, some elements of Gnosticism or something like Gnosticism, which says that you have to have a special kind of knowledge to really be among the spiritually elite. And part of this idea is the idea. No, the Holy Spirit is in every believer and you don't need someone to lead you into new truth apart from. Holy Spirit. So whatever the role of a Christian teacher is, I don't believe that role is to reveal new truth. Rather, it's to explain truth that's already been revealed in the person of Jesus and the Scriptures. Illustrative of what this might mean to us. We talked about this the other day. That of course, what it means, first of all, is it means prayer. So we have Paul and Ephesians one, Paul and Colossians. Why Paul and Ephesians three modeling this force. He believes that the spirit is the teacher, therefore he prays. But here's Paul addressing this issue to Timothy in the second Timothy Chapter two.


I'll read 23 through 26. Here's an application of this truth for Timothy. Timothy have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies. You know that they breed quarrels, and the Lord servant must not be quarrelsome, but must be kind to everyone and able teacher patient, correcting opponents with gentleness so that God may perhaps grant them repentance. They will come to a knowledge of the truth and escape from the snare of the devil who has held them captive to do his will. I think this is the specific application of believing that the Holy Spirit is the teacher. I don't have to argue somebody through my powers of reason into the truth. If someone's opposing, it's got to be the Holy Spirit who convicts and transforms them. It's got to be the Holy Spirit who gets them out of the snare. All I need to do is faithfully offer the truth. I want to add at least one more item to our long list already. That's the idea of oneself. There is an obligation, ultimately, that each of us in the faith has for ourselves. Remember part of the the twin implications of what Luther tried to emphasize with the priesthood of all believers was a dual implication. Part of it had to do with the opportunity that every believer has for access to the scriptures and the opportunity that every believer has to live to the glory of God and be a minister. But part of that also is responsibility. So if it's true that I'm called to be a priest, if it's true that I am called to be a minister, if it's true that I have access to the Holy Spirit and access to the Scriptures, then I'm responsible for growth. So no one is permitted in the church to not grow, not grow, and then point the finger at their pastor and say, it's your fault.


I point the finger at the church administration of the elders you're not providing for us. Now, that may be so that the church isn't doing all it can, but you still are obligated to grow. I'm thinking of Second Peter Chapter one. God has given you everything you need for life and godliness. Now, what do you do? Add to your faith, goodness to your goodness. Self-control are to your goodness. Knowledge to knowledge. Self-control. You have an obligation. Or the book of Jud toward the end concludes with the words. But as for you, build yourself up in your most holy things as spoken to the whole community. That means every member of the community has an obligation. So yes, a lot of people here pastors, parents, mature believers, elders, everybody all under the the power empowering of the Holy Spirit. And we've dropped the ball. Who typically is handling this in the life of the church? To some extent, the pastor. But unfortunately, as we've seen, sometimes pastors don't want to see themselves as Christian educators. We'll have a C director often. Sometimes, yes. Sometimes no. A minister of education. A Christian education director, maybe a Sunday school superintendent. And it may be that much of our teaching is done by those that we call volunteer teachers. Right. So we have all sorts of folks who are doing this Just for a moment. Just for a moment. Look at this list. Look at this list. And then look at this list. What do you think? There's a bit of a disconnect here. This is who's doing it. But somehow, by identifying some people I'm not saying that these people are not necessarily important people. They are. This is reality. We will have volunteer teachers teaching and we should have someone who is overseeing them, whether it's a C director or a Sunday school superintendent.


Pastor, I'm going to put a question mark there because sometimes I think pastors are doing it, but they don't know they're doing it or they're not very intentional about doing it and calling it Christian education or Christian formation ministry. The problem, though, is that the rest of the church sometimes will look at this and say, Oh, we have our people, we have our people. So it's not really my job. It's not my job. But in fact, these people should represent some of these people. A C director, a superintendent. This should be someone perhaps who's spiritually gifted in the area of teaching or one of the gifted leaders that we mentioned up above should be somebody like that. They do represent sort of this one, another ness of the body as well. But the larger concern is that everybody ought to be doing this. And particularly you'd have to say biblically speaking, particularly parents need to be equipped for this task. Pastors need to be engaged intentionally in this task and elders need to be very involved in this task. So and then finally, one another. Everybody does. The reason I put the question by the pastor again is because my experience is a lot of pastors use the same language that you hear in the mouth of other people. We got our people. It's not me. We've got our sea people. So a lot of pastors think Christian education is not their job. And if it's not the pastor's job, we're in trouble. I'm not sure. Well, what we'll see here in our discussion, there are there are extremes that you can find, too, either way here. It's not the pastor's job. It's only the pastor's job. Let's just talk about this real briefly. Unfortunately, we can't get into any of these categories in depth here.


But let's look at it a little bit briefly. I have five key suggestions about what the church can do for their parents in this regard. And then maybe some of you can bring others to the table here. If I take this seriously and believe that in fact, parents are the ones primarily obliged to be teaching their children the faith, how can I help them as a pastor? For example, five words that I will offer. First one is feed them. One of my fundamental obligations is simply recognize to help them be equipped to feed their children. They need to be fed themselves. So recognize them. First of all, as people who have been given to my charge as a pastor and as part of my obligation to teach them, this is the this is, I think, the model in both Old and New Testaments. The adult members of the community would be taught by the gifted leaders of the community, and then they would be in turn teaching their children. So in the New Testament, I think that's the pattern. That's the norm. I'm an adult, mature believer. I'm a I'm obligated to be a good learner. The church leaders will teach me and then I, in turn, will become the. Think of it this way. The minister of the community will teach me, and I will in turn be the minister of my home. And as part of the minister of the home, I will teach my children. So part of our fundamental obligation simply is to make sure they're being addressed, their needs are being addressed, that they're growing as believers. They're growing in their knowledge of the faith. That might mean breaking through some some misconceptions, again, about Christian education. And one of those misconceptions was that it's only for children.


No, it's for you as an adult is for me. I need to be educated continually in my all the people of the church, too. I had a interesting experience. One church I served, I was new in the church. I moved from one church where we had always segregated our parents in our youth for everything. So I was very pleased when I went to the new church and the first thing we did was had a family retreat. I was so excited that we were going to go on a family retreat together. I was pumped because I'd been wanting something like that. But I came back from the family retreat, totally discouraged and really upset. And in fact, I was probably guilty of saying to more than one person I wasn't that an interesting anti family retreat that we just went to. Because what happened at this retreat we got there. The only reason it was a family retreat, it seems like, is that people got in their cars together. And then when they got to the place, they just separated and they never saw each other till they got back in the car again. So I was I was complaining behind the scenes and word of my complaints found their way to the senior pastor. So I was in the wrong I shouldn't have complained to others. I should have gone to the senior pastor first. But he called me into his office and wanted to chew me out for complaining to others about family retreat. But what was interesting as he explained his perspective, this was a long tradition in the church. And here's his idea of why it was a family retreat. It's a family retreat because the whole family went together and there was ministry aimed at each member of the family.


So for his thinking was, we'll come together and we'll meet. We'll find the best possible ministry to meet each member of the family where they're at. So we'll have a specific youth ministry element going on so that those youth can be touched by the power of God. And the word will meet them where they're at. And we'll do the same thing with the adults. We'll have the adults together and they'll be built up. And his thought was, if we get each part of the family to experience God in a powerful and profound way, that will grow the family that will transform the family. Well, it made some sense to me and it took some of my concern away. And he's thinking along this line that his fundamental obligation to really help parents be Christian educators is to minister to parents as children of God themselves. My my difference would be that I don't think it needs to be an either or. We could do this on both end. So yeah, there could be some specific ministry for parents, but there also could surely have been time for ministry together. But this is part of our obligation. Let parents know that they need to learn themselves as believers and then equip them that way. So feed them as believers. Secondly, train them as teachers. So feed them as believers themselves, or feed them as disciples, as learners themselves, but then train them as teachers. There are a lot of things that we could do about this. Here's a place where I think a lot of local churches would do very well to explore the idea of partnership with parish church agencies. It's been very sad to see the trend in in many cases as a parish, church groups and local churches wind up in kind of competitive encounters with each other.


And sometimes pastors are very insecure about letting their people be involved in a parish church group. You know, they make exception for something. If Billy Graham comes to town or Promise Keepers this around, maybe they'll make an exception for that. But if there is a parenting seminar put on by some group, sometimes the church wants to own that themselves. But in fact, there are a number of marvelous ministries that equip families. Family Life. Today's Ministry of Campus Crusade Focus on the Family, has all kinds of resources available, shepherding a child's heart, TED Trip and a whole host of ministries related to that. All kinds of resources out there. And in many areas, a church may not have all the resources necessary to do a great job of equipping parents. I take I like to take a larger view of church. Instead of just thinking about my church, I like to think about the church with a capital C and we're part of that body. So why not be a partner? Why not be a partner? Let let my parents know about all kinds of resources. And then also as a church, we can do our own thing for sure. Preaching on this area. There are a lot of biblical text that address parents here. And if I'm faithful to just preach through the scriptures, I'll get to them eventually. I should preach on different mistakes. I should preach on Effusion six. So you can do preaching, you can do seminars, you can do question and answer sessions, all kinds of things. And then the other thing that we want to put under this head is developing a resource center in the life of the church. Used to be we call these things church libraries, but now there's probably a broader array of materials alongside of books, videotapes, audiotapes, magazines, all kinds of things that we could have set up a resource center in the church.


And part of the target audience here is parents feed them, train them. A third area involved them, involve them with their kids, involve them with their kids. Here's another place where sometimes I think churches are thinking backwards. There's a lot of times we think that we have to separate our kids from their parents. Kids don't want to be with their parents, we think, especially at the youth level. And if you probably if you ask some of the kids, they might say that I don't want my dad to be my Sunday schoolteacher. But sometimes we take this too rigidly. And in the youth ministry, for example, a lot of times youth ministers set up and us against them confrontational sort of thing in the life of church where the youth minister grabs the kids and says, you know, your parents really don't understand you. The adults of the church don't understand us. It's us against them. Well, we ought to instead be finding all kinds of ways to involve youth and children together. So I would actually argue very much for as we did before, intergenerational experiences, intergenerational ministry opportunities, like a Sunday school class together, maybe once a quarter take a topic one quarter out of the year and have youth and their parents study together intergenerational outreach opportunities. I mentioned I'd seen this used very well in my home church on in Washington State, where families go on mission trips together, short term mission trips together. And I may not, for whatever reason, have parents necessarily involved as teachers. That doesn't mean they can't be involved. Even if have for whatever reason I'm uncomfortable. Again, the youth ministry level of having parents be the teachers for my youth, because youth are saying I need to distance myself from parents at this time if I by that.


That doesn't mean parents can't be involved. The chaperons as sponsors and other sorts of ways somehow find involvement. And I'll point you back to Mark DeVries here. Family based youth ministry closes his book with 100 suggestions to do exactly this. So he's got 100 specific ideas to do this. And his basic reason for doing so again is the research that suggest it's the kids who are involved with adults who will stay in church long term. And I think that's probably right on the mark. So involve them as a pastor. A fourth thing that I want to do is show them I believe this is another area where a pastor has to help show parents how to parent. The issue of modeling there can be undue burden is, of course, on a pastor's family. And that's not what I'm talking about. Exactly where kids are unfairly placed on a pedestal, You know, the whole peak phenomenon and a pastor's wife in some settings is probably the cruelest job in the life of a church. One evangelist came into a church that I served in and said something. He said, I can always pick out the pastor's wife in the congregation. She's the person who's not quite sitting down, not quite standing up as if she sits down. People criticize her for not working hard enough. If she stands up, people criticize that we're trying to get attention. And it's true. What a lightning rod pastors wives can be for criticism. A lot of people want to criticize the pastor, but they don't want to do it directly to the pastor. So they just pour it all on the poor pastor's wife. It's a cruel, cruel thing that happens in the life of the church. I'm so shocked how little grace there is in church and sometimes my wife still in recovery.


I'm speaking from experience here. My wife's still in recovery from some early years, from a dozen years of full time pastoral ministry. It's a tough job. I'm not talking about undue burden, but I am thinking that part of my fundamental responsibility as a pastor is if I'm a pastor, don't just preach to people about love your wife, but let me show them how to love my wife. Don't just preach to them about love your children, but show them now. And sometimes I've actually seen the opposite problem where pastors say, I have to sort of distance myself from my family for the sake of the ministry. That's the peak phenomenon, which often shows up, is that pastors grow up so busy ministering to everybody else that their own family gets neglected. Show them I need to show them. So I need to carve out time in my schedule. That's jealous. Time to be with my wife, to be with my children. And if people get bugged by that tough, I'm showing you what it means to be a husband, a wife, a parent. We have to model. Let me show you. Let me show you this, because this is a Baxter kind of issue. Even as we're having this discussion, some of you should be thinking Baxter right now is Bax. What would Baxter say? Baxter Say, you know, for the sake of the flock, you do whatever you have to do. Remember, he wasn't married when he wrote this book, so it might have sounded different. Later he marries after Kidderminster, he marries after that. So what Baxter would say is, you know, what's a candle for? To burn this burn out for Jesus? That's the idea. And if that means you sacrifice your family lives in poverty, so be it.


And if you take from your own resources to supply for somebody else, so be it. And if you don't have time to spend with your family, so be it. There's a little bit of that tone or a lot of that tone depending on your perspective. And Baxter I think it probably would have changed a little bit later. Have you written But that reminds me so much of what I saw. I remember the first ten years of my Christian experience were in white American evangelical circles, and the next 15 years were primarily in Korean-American evangelical circles, two very different cultures, all kinds of things, which I saw over and over and over again that were interesting contrast. And this is one of the issues that provide a really interesting contrast. Typically, what I saw in the white American evangelical context that I was ministering in was people in ministry would prioritize things like this. They would say, God is first and what would be second. From that I'm thinking here an eighties nineties, typical white evangelical minister would say, Yeah, think about yourself most of you is probably what you would say. God is first, my family is second and then just a simple. The list of priorities here will say, my church work, my church involvement. This third, what I often saw over here was God is first, church is second, my ministry is second and my family is third. In other words, a model which may remind us a little bit more of what we sort of breathe in from Baxter. You get this kind of spirit over here. This was a very clear contrast for me to watch. In fact, over here, what this really meant was God is first, and the way I serve God is my ministry to the church.


So these almost became synonymous. Serving God means serving the church. That's how you do it really doesn't mean too much else. It means serving the church primarily. And then family has to take second place to that because clearly family would be second to God. That's the idea. I see two points of extreme in some cases here where family is used as an excuse to avoid some pretty clear biblical mandates about zeal and diligence in ministry and families used as an excuse to avoid it sometimes. But I think sometimes it's more talk than reality. And over here, sometimes family severely neglected. And I see either these as bad points on a continuum. And I often thought just reflecting over the years of comparison, that somewhere, somewhere in the middle was something close to wisdom. Finding a point of balance here, the debate actually can be made both ways. You can make this debate either way. You can look at the scriptures from Paul to Timothy about an elder not being able to manage the household of God if they're not able to manage their own household. And you can use that to argue over here, but then you could argue over here on the area of those those Jesus sayings that we talked about before, who is my brother and sister and mother, whoever does the will of my father who is in heaven, if anyone comes after me and does not hate father and mother, sister and brothers not worthy of me. So you could actually find verses to support your perspective on either side of this kind of a divide. But actually I would question the logic and the propriety of looking at things this way. So I set this up just to knock it down.


I don't think this is the way to do things. If I prioritize my things this way, then I'm suggesting something like percentages can work. Okay, God, you get 50% of me and then my family gets 30% and my master will get 20%. No, sorry doesn't work that way. I think it's it's far better and more biblical to look at life sort of like this. You know, we can draw various aspects of our life. Call one one of these boxes family and another box, our family of faith, the church. And we have other responsibilities, all of us do. We have our work life and we have our in our our life as students, as learners. So whatever it may be. And what I see is the Bible actually tells me that in all of my varied roles, whatever they may be, citizen, whatever my varied roles are, I need to love God in that role. And I can't say, Well, God, I'll put you first and then I'll put my family second. No, I need to put God first in my family and I need to put God first in my ministry. I need to put God first in my understanding of the citizen. So he has to fill every every one of these boxes. And though it's difficult to balance and there are still practical questions that that nag, this is the perspective I need to have as well as I can. The goal is high, the standard is high, but I need to aim at honoring God fully. As a husband, as a father, I need to aim also at honoring God fully. As a pastor. I have to do that. Very difficult to balance all the demands of life on these various roles.


You know what? Already many of you, your students, your spouse, you're in ministry. It's not easy. One last word here about equipping parents before we break your feed. The parents as believers themselves train them as teachers, resource them, involve them, thirdly with their kids, show them through modeling. And then the last word just for our consideration is free them to do it. What I mean here is, is sometimes sometimes churches don't even a lot really sufficient space to people. We overburden people with schedules and committees and think of what I'm particularly troubled by what we do with Sunday in many of our churches. You know, we have this idea that Sunday is the best day to do things committee wise, because people are, you know, they're coming anyway. And then on Sunday, especially if we have. A kind of ministry set up where as soon as the family walks to church, they separate. Kids go this way, youth go that way, parents go that way. We've already separated them. And then we ask parents stay behind for choir practice. And then after that, we're going to have a Finance committee meeting and sometimes meetings, meetings, meetings on top of meetings. Part of what we're going to do if if we're going to really believe that the home is the primary context, look through the schedule of the life of the church, are there some things which we're doing because we've always done them or perhaps we're doing because we in fact think the home is not the best context for this? The church is the best context. Well, if we believe the home is the best context, provides some clear space and actually say, you know, we're going to carve out this space, we don't need to have maybe we don't need to have as many meetings on the Lord's Day as we typically have so that you can use that day with family.


Now, the reality is I made this complaint in some churches, and the retort that came back to me from the senior pastor was, Oh, well, whenever we whenever they say they're going to go home and spend time with family, they actually just go out and, you know, go home, watch TV. And so it's not a good use of the time. All right. But sooner or later, you have to trust that people will grow up a little bit. One of the ways we do the opposite of this is by putting guilt trips on people. If you can't be faithful and make it to this meeting every week, this Bible study, this prayer group, sometimes we put a guilt trip on people and part of that may be especially inappropriate because we don't know the realities of people's schedules today. Some of the schedules can certainly be challenged, but some of it's just reality that should challenge us about the way we think.