Teaching the Faith Christian Education

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1 Teaching the Faith Christian Education Course Introduction When you become a pastor, one most important responsibility you will have is teaching the Christian faith. If you lead a Bible study, teach a confirmation class, visit people in the hospital, or visit in their homes, you will have the privilege teaching God s Word. This course will help you understand better that work we call "Christian education." What is Christian education? Traditionally Christian education focused on children s Sunday school programs and the pastor teaching a Bible study. Those are certainly important parts of Christian education. But this course will help you see that Christian education happens while Christian people learn through various activities in the congregation. Christian education involves God's people coming together, supporting each other, and receiving the Christian faith. and giving it to other adults and children. For that reason, you will learn how our Lutheran theology influences our understanding about Christian education. In Module 3 you will investigate how you can improve the success in your Christian education program. You will see that the most effective programs involve the entire Christian congregation, teaching and passing on the Christian faith. You will learn about active learning and passive learning. You will see that people learn best if they are actively involved in a learning process, and their learning happens in their relationship with other people. Also in Module 3 you will learn basic principles for learning, for both children and adults. During this course you will develop two Bible study outlines that use those principles. In the final part of this course you will learn that the Lutheran church has long been involved doing education, and the Lutheran church has influenced both public school development and private education. The LCMS has always been involved in education, and now we are leaders for Protestant churches with elementary schools and high schools. 1

2 This course will help you learn theory about Christian education, but we will emphasize PRACTICAL ways for doing education. Most of your Weekly Assignments have activities that will give you experience designing and developing Christian education programs that will serve the specific needs, in your congregation. Every week You will have a video translation of the study guide that introduces your lesson topic. 2. Sometimes you will have a video with Rev John Palka, your teacher, lecturing with an interpreter. Rev. Palka does not have a video for every lesson. 3. You will have a reading assignment. We will offer you videos translations of most readings. 4. You will do research work that you will type and send to your teacher in Blackboard. First, do your research. Then type your answers using Microsoft Word, checking your spelling and grammar. Then meet with your mentor. First, your mentor can look over your written work and give you good feedback. Second, the two of you can have your regular weekly discussion. Your course study guide has questions for your mentor meeting. You can read those questions in your study guide yourself. (We do not offer you a Sign translation of those questions. Then, when you have everything typed and ready, go to Blackboard and copy your answers. Remember, when you type your answers, you must click, "SAVE ANSWER," every time. And then when you are finished, you must click "FINISH." If you forget that last click, your teacher will never see your work. Your teacher will check your work, and he will insert answers back to you. So, please. go back and look at your work in Blackboard again. Go back to the folder for that module. Then click on the work you recently finished. Click: "View submissions." and then click the "attempt" you want to see. Read your teacher's comments to you. That is important. Your teacher may ask you to change your answers. Your teacher may ask you to contact him. Your teacher may give your more information that will help you better understand that lesson. Every week we offer you a Signed description for your written work for Blackboard. But you should read that assignment yourself in your study guide for specific information you must follow. 2

3 MODULE 1 -- The Task of Christian Education Introduction Pastors know that in their congregation Christian education is important. Pastors want to have a good Christian education program, and Pastors want to become good educators. When you become a pastor, you will spend much time developing your congregation s education program and doing that program. One of the important works for a pastor is giving his congregation strong Christian education. With strong Christian education, your congregational members will grow strong in their faith. They will understand better church life, and they will live more effectively for Christ, both in the church and in the world. A pastor's best friend is a good, strong program for Christian education. For that reason, it is important for you to understand what Christian education means, and what Christian education should accomplish. Christian education is a complex process that touches people in various ways. Christian education uses God s Word for touching people, helping them develop and increase their faith in Christ. Christian education touches everyday life experience -- joy, suffering, emotions, relationships, and situations. A good Christian education program involves connecting people's daily life experiences with God's Holy Word. In this module you will see what other people think that Christian education means. And your mentor will help you understand Christian education in your congregation. And he will help you plan, establish, and do your Christian education program in your congregation. 3

4 Module 1 Unit 1 -- The Concept of Christian Education Summary When many people think about Christian education, they think: "Bible studies," and "Sunday school." And that's fine. In many congregations, you will first find Christian education in their Bible studies and Sunday school. But is that really Christian education? #1. Some people think that Christian education means informing people about Christian truths. #2. Other people think that Christian education means changing people s lives and teaching them how they can live their faith in Christ. #3. Some people think Christian education means helping people have a strong faith. #4. Other people think that Christian education means leading people to church life, beliefs, and traditions. Those four different ideas about Christian education -- which are right, and which are wrong? Now focus on those questions and examine the many meanings and various possible concepts for Christian education. When you finish this unit, you will have full and deep understanding about Christian education, and you will begin analyzing what is Christian education in your congregation. Your Important question for this lesson. Christian education means what? Answer: Christian education is a complex process, touching people, helping them develop, and increasing faith in Christ. Now watch your lecture video by Rev. Palka for Module 1 Unit 1. 4

5 First reading assignment for Module 1 Unit 1 Karen B. Tye. Basics of Christian Education. Chapters 1-2. Pages Introduction In 1990 six large Christian Protestant church denominations combined together to study the topic: "Christian Education." They studied six problems: 1. Adults have little interest for Christian education. 2. Congregations struggle keeping young people involved past the 8th grade. 3. Problems finding volunteer teachers and keeping teachers. 4. Pastors have little interest for Christian education. 5. Difficulty in getting parents involved in the Christian education process. 6. Educational programs and teaching methods fail to match the needs of people, both adults and children. That research study found that Christian education is really important, but most churches don't do Christian education well. So, what should we do? This book tries to answer that question. We don't have any quick fix. We must start back studying the basics. Basics for Christian education have six points. Those points are the first six chapters in this book: Chapter 1: CONCEPT -- What is Christian Education? Chapter 2: PURPOSE -- Why do we educate? Chapter 3: CONTEXT -- Where do we educate? Chapter 4: CONTENT -- What must we know? Chapter 5: PARTICIPANTS -- Whom do we educate? Chapter 6: PROCESS AND METHOD -- How do we educate? Plus 2 more: Chapter 7: Evaluating our teaching methods and programs. Chapter 8: Things that Hinder successful education. 5

6 Tye -- Chapter 1: CONCEPT -- What is Christian Education? If you ask people "What does Christian education mean? Define that word," first, they look stunned. They look puzzled. Then they say something like, "Christian education means, Sunday school." Yes, Christian education includes Sunday School, but that's not all. The book, page 10, lists various words and phrases that people offer for describing what Christian education means. We can divide that list into four sections. 1. Christian education means, teaching religion. doctrine. passing on the church's faith concepts. catechism. school. Here the focus is on information. 2 Christian education means a social blending process. That means: making people understand and accept the church's traditions, history, and culture. getting agreement about how the church worships. how church members behave. and so forth. 3. Christian education means personal self development, spiritual growth, and moral life. 4. Christian education means, encouraging people to social action. Some people call "liberation", "social justice", and "mercy." Example: Helping poor people. How can we include all four concepts in one sentence that defines Christian education? Every church must really develop their own way to define Christian education. One sentence does not work the same for all churches. But other writers have tried: One is Daniel Aleshire. The other is Thomas Groome Both of them offer their definitions for "Christian education." And they both have the same four concepts that we already read. In the Bible you will find one good example that explains the education process. 6

7 Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says: Israel, pay attention. The Lord is our God --the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart. and with all your soul. and with all your strength. These commands I give you today, always remember them. Teach them to your children. and talk about them when you sit at home. and walk along the road. when you lie down. and when you get up. Write these commands and tie them to your hands as a sign. Tie them on your forehead to remind you. And write them on your doors and gates. Here we see both: (1) formal education, like school, and (2) comfortable conversation. Here we see a process for life -- teaching through experience. Christian Education happens in Sunday school. Christian Education happens in church fellowship hall. Christian Education happens in the soup kitchen for homeless people. Christian Education happens in the living room. Here we see a broad understanding about Christian education. Tye -- Chapter 2: PURPOSE -- Why do we educate? Sometimes church education committees have frustrations trying to figure out how to make everything happen right. But we often forget why we do the things we do. What is our purpose for Christian education? What is our goal? It is like taking a trip. If we don't know our goal, we have no idea where we will arrive. Those four concepts for Christian education that we discussed in chapter one. 1. teach religion. 2. social blending process. church tradition, and culture. 3. personal self development. spiritual growth. 4. social action. 7

8 Those four can become goals for Christian education. Then we need to analyze how we do that. Often we do things the same old way that always fail. We never change. but still we hope for success. If we want success, we must change. Situations change. People change. And our ways for Christian education must change. Naturally, we want to keep some things the same. Our history -- our connection with the past -- that is important. We don't want to lose that. But how we teach that in today's life, today's situation, that must change. Maybe you know the funny story about a young wife cooking ham. She always cuts the ham in half, and then she cooks it. Her husband asks her, "Why do you always cut the ham in half?" Her answer: "I don't know. My mother taught me that way." So they call her mother, and ask her: "When you cook ham, you always cut it half. Why." Her answer: "I don't know. That's the way my mother did it." Okay. So they call grandma. "When you cook ham, you always cut it half. Why." Grandma's answer: "Oh, my cooking pan was too small. The whole ham couldn't fit." Sometimes we continue traditions, but we have no idea for the reason. You know that before people die, they say their "last words." Do you know the seven last words for the church, before the church dies? "We have always done it that way." The church needs both continuity (continue from past), and change. We must have both. We need to invent new ways for bringing God's Word to the world. Is our goal to make church members who learn all our rules and know how to do things "the right way?" Or is it our goal to lead people to faith in Christ so they will live with Him and live for Him? 8

9 Missionaries in other countries discover this. Often they try to force new Christians in other cultures to follow American and European church traditions. But our traditions don't touch their cultures. When the Americans give up and let Christians in those countries develop their own ways for worship, then people respond. Continuity and change. We see that in Jesus' teaching. In Matthew chapter five, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "You heard the law says... But I say to you..." Continuity and change. Jesus did that. We also must do that for our Christian education program, while we have a goal for bringing Christ to the world. Second reading assignment for Module 1, Unit 1 Tom & Joani Schultz. Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Church. Chapter 1. Pages Introduction to the Book This book is about education in church. Education is important, right? If education is important, then teaching requires much time, effort. If our attitude is lazy, don t-care, then our teaching will be lousy. It is important we teach the best we can. But the problem! People in church aren t learning. Surveys show people say church teaching is poor quality. From 1972 to 2004, Sunday school attendance dropped from 41 million down to 26 million. Only 19% adults say they learn a lot from their pastor s sermons. We teach, but people don t learn, so what do we do? We can continue teaching the same, and say it s okay? We blame the students? That won t help. Christian education is very important for Christian life. Weak education leads to weak Christian life, church shrinking, and a don t-care attitude. We must do something. Public schools are beginning to realize they must use new ways teaching. True, church and public schools aren t the same, but we can learn from their new educational ideas and adapt them for the church. Each chapter in your book examines one idea. You will study several of these ideas. Each chapter explains the teaching idea, a new way to teach, or what is important. Then chapter section named Do It gives real ideas you can use when you teach or preach. Schultz Chapter 1, Know the Goal. Why do you educate? What is your goal? This chapter shows two problems. One, many churches don t know their goal. They teach, but don t have a clear reason why they teach. Two, if they have a goal, do they succeed in that goal, or not? They don t know how to measure success for that goal, they evaluate their work the wrong way. 9

10 It is important we set the right goal, work toward that goal, and evaluate often, to make sure we are still going right way. Suppose you want to drive from New York to LA, California. You get in the car and begin driving. But you don t pay attention to where you are going. The signs may say Florida, but you ignore that keep driving. You feel satisfied you are busy driving, feel like you are doing right thing. Is that okay? No! The same, in church often we teach the same way again and again. It s easy to teach and feel like we re doing something important. But suppose we don t not focus on a clear goal then our teaching wanders, people lose interest. We have many ways we defend our teaching and say we are doing right. The book explains many of our defenses, and says those reasons don t support good teaching. A few examples: Kids continue coming. That is good they come. But they want to come, or parents force them? They learn anything, or sit clueless? Attendance doesn t mean they learn. The kids are busy the whole hour. Busy doesn t mean learning. Busy doing what? We believe in strong Bible teaching. Strong Bible teaching is good. But that means everyone understands and learns and grows? Suppose you have great Bible teachings, but no one understands it? Our pastor is a good speaker. That s good. Good communication is important. But the students, adults, anyone listening, do they learn and do? That is like writing a recipe and giving to someone. Then they file it and never get it out to make that food. Is that success? It is good to sit and listen to good sermon. But we want people listen and also to learn, grow, and do. It is too easy to forget goals. We are busy, we follow church traditions and not think about why we do this. Over time, we forget goals and just do. Public schools lost their goals, too. The goal should be that students will learn. But the real goal is for students to get good grades and high test scores. What do students want? They only want to pass class and go on to next grade, so they focus on that. They forget about learning. Church has done same thing. We focus on the process, teaching. But we forget the goal people learning and growing. The goal is very important. If we don t have the right goal, then we wander and people don t grow in Jesus. When we have goal right, then we give them God s power and help them grow. What should be our goal? What do adults and teens want to learn? Study said adults want to learn 3 things. 1. Bible 2. Develop a personal relationship with Jesus. 3. Improve my skills showing love and concern. 10

11 Teens want to learn 3 things. 1. Know how to make friends and be a friend. 2. Know and love Jesus. 3. Know who God is. What is your goal? For people to know facts? For people to learn stories, or teachings? Or for people to learn and do? You must come up with your own goal. This book encourages you to have the goal that people will love God and neighbor and follow God in their life. At end of each chapter is part named Do It! They have good suggestions, ideas, real ways you can try ideas from that chapter. Study Guide -- Module 1 Unit 1 Weekly Assignment FIRST Interview two or three members of your congregation about the topic of Christian education. Tell them their interview is for your DIT homework. Tell them that one reason for their interview is to help you understand how the congregation views and understand Christian education. Ask them these three questions: 1. How do you define Christian education? What does "Christian education" mean? 2. What important activities happen in Christian education? 3. What are important goals for Christian education? After your interviews, type summarize of their answers. Don't quote those people exactly, but summarize. and write your understanding, for what they said, and their important points. 1. How do you define Christian education? ( words) 2. What important activities happen in Christian education? ( words) 3. What are important goals for Christian education? ( words) SECOND What you learned from the interviews, you will share and discuss with your mentor. Two reasons for this assignment: First, you mingle with people in your congregation. and you start discovering how your members view and understand Christian education. This will help you while you create the Christian education program for your congregation. Secondly, this work helps you start discussing with your mentor how you view and understand Christian education. [End of EIIT12 Module 1, Unit 1] 11

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