Sermon: Christian Education (5 of 8 in "Rubber Meets the Road" which is a follow up of "Your Kingdom Come Series") Summary: Christian Education is the total process through which we are being transformed into the image of Christ to serve God and others in all we do in order to carry out his mission. Elements of Christian education includes information, formation, and transformation, all in the context of knowing God. Know: Christian education is not complete until it moves from theory, to values, to action. Feel: The desire to engage in transformational educational activities Do: Evaluate the educational program of the church, what is done well, what needs to stop, and what needs to improve or change? Text: Col 1:9-12 Scripture Reading: Titus 3:14 Intro: 1. Would like to join church, highest grades in Bible class -- Do you know God? a. Took Bible test, 93%, national average only 38% - Do you know God? b. Memorized scripture growing up, can quote a lot - Do you know God? c. Working on memorizing whole books, finished Rom. - You know God? d. Good question - Those who know Bible not necessarily know God 2. A study conducted by Search Institute titled: Effective Christian Education: A National Study of Protestant Congregations. a. Measure maturity of faith using two criteria: - Vertical component of deep personal relationship with God - Horizonal component of serving other people b. Found that most adults do not have a mature faith c. Adolescents possessed an undeveloped faith 3. There is a need for good, quality Christian education a. How do we get there? b. Start by defining what it is c. It is the total process through which we are being transformed into the image of Christ to serve God and others in all we do in order to carry out his mission 4. Colossians provides a model a. Written to new Christians b. Paul begins with a prayer - In many of Paul's letters, the intro and prayers signal what he will expand on and talk about later in the letter - Paul's prayer is for their personal and spiritual growth c. Text: (Col 1:9-12) d. Four indispensable elements of the Christian Education I. Head A. This is talking about the intellect - It is information 1. 1:5 - They heard the word of truth 2. 1:9a - Paul prayed that they be filled with knowledge B. God has passed on all kinds of "information" for us to know and master 1. Spends time reminding them of who Christ is Col 1:13f a. Image of God v.15 b. Creator v.16 c. Sustainer v.17 d. Reconciler v.20 2. Much of what we do educationally is geared toward disseminating information a. The Sermon - Exposition of the text - Listen and soak in information b. Bible Class Curriculum - A little more effective than the sermon - Bible memory verses - Bible Stories - Crafts and hands on projects to remember them c. Can learn some basic facts about the faith 3. Heb 6:1-2 - Mentions "elementary teaching" about the Christ a. Sort of the A B C's b. Some of the "instruction" it mentions includes - Instructions about washings - allusion to baptism? - Laying on of hands - Resurrection from the Dead - Eternal judgment 4. There is a need to teach basic doctrines of the Bible a. Who God, the Son, and the Spirit is b. Who we are, what our purpose is, how God calls us c. The nature of God's self-disclosure and how the Bible fits into his self-disclosure d. What sin is and how it affects us e. What God has done to remedy sin f. What the Kingdom is and how the church fits in C. ILL: When I was in second grade, I remember learning the basics 1. I remember sitting every day with flash cards learning math 2. We also had to learn our vocabulary 3. We had to learn the basics before moving on to other things D. It is the same way with our faith 1. There are basics we need to learn 2. But this in itself is useless… II. Heart A. Need to process and internalize it - Formation 1. 1:9b - Next part of Paul's prayer for the Colossians a. Paul prayed they be filled with all spiritual wisdom and understanding b. This goes beyond mere information 2. It is possible to be committed to the Bible and not be pleasing a. Possible to teach and believe correct doctrine and not be faithful b. possible to be illiterate and be more pleasing to God than one who can quote countless Bible verses. 3. Gal 4:19 - Paul was in labor "until Christ is formed in you" a. This goes deeper than just information b. Paul was not out to just disseminate information c. It was about formation 4. Problem with most church education programs: a. Consists mainly of informational Bible classes b. It is not supposed to be about information, but formation c. Most education programs do not make it past information d. Information by itself is useless B. ILL: Have you ever crammed for a test before? 1. Remember saying, "hurry, give me the test before I forget" a. It was straight memorization b. After the exam, there is always an inherent memory dump 2. Stanford Ericksen, in Essence of Good Teaching, says, "The moment of instructional truth occurs when the student grasps the meaning of an important idea; all else is a means to the end of understanding." a. He uses compares meanfingul material material verses rote and found that over a period of time, retention decreases drastically and rapidly for rote material immediately after the exam, while retention stays and even increases for meaningful material. b. As you can see, information is limited 3. When you get down to it, information by itself is useless a. Jas 2 - Even the demons believe, and shudder b. They probably have more "information" about God that you do, but it is useless c. Prov 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another d. What is important is not information, but formation 4. Formation is more about quality than quantity a. It is about an internal formation of values and attitudes b. Our values and attitudes is what shapes who we are c. Our values and attitudes shapes our actions C. What is involved in formation? 1. Have a Mentor: Don't believe spiritual growth can happen independently a. Col 1:7 - Colossians learned from Epaphros b. 1 Cor 11:1 - Be imitators of me as I am of Christ c. Mark 3:14 - Jesus chose twelve disciples "so that they would be with him" 2. Be able to engage in critical reflection a. Jesus often didn't offer pat answers - He often answered questions with questions - Sometimes he told a story - Sometimes he gave an object lesson - Sometimes he did something with his disciples, and then questioned his disciples on what just happened b. Purpose was to cause you to re-think - To often just accept what we have been told by parents, teachers and preachers - If all you can do is regurgitate what you have been fed, then that is not owned faith, but borrowed faith - Owned faith comes through struggle c. Don't be afraid of critical thinking skills - ask questions - Why are we doing this? - What is important? - What needs to change? d. Teaching occurs when learners are allowed to squirm 3. Practice Spiritual Disciplines a. What are Spiritual Disciplines? - Planting analogy - We don't cause a plant to grow, we only give in the right condition to grow - Spiritual disciplines create the right conditions for God to transform us b. Recommend Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline -Inward Disciplines: Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Study -Outward Disciplines: Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, Service -Corporate Disciplines: Confession, Worship, Guidance, Celebration 4. Look at models - The ultimate model is Jesus of course a. Heb 11 - Biblical heroes of the faith as examples - People need examples and models - People need heroes - If we don't provide them with Christian heroes, they will find them elsewhere b. Explore the lives of other Christians as well - Martyrs, such as Polycarp in the 2nd century, Dietrich Bonhoeffer in WW2 Germany, or more recently, Rachel Scott, the Columbine martyr in the book, Rachel's Tears (this is a tremendous book) - Other people, such as Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, Jonathan Edwards, Robert Richardson - Missionaries such as William Carey, George Benson or Sarah Andrews c. Then there are people right here who may have faced challenges and adversities - You have a faith-building story to offer D. What can be done? 1. LTC for the kids is one way to aid in formation a. Prayer journals, Bible reading, etc. b. What about a sort of LTC for adults? 2. Small groups are a good place for critical reflection a. Life Groups are a good place to ask tough questions and explore them b. Some start Spiritual Formation groups - Can be just two or three people - Go through each spiritual discipline - Not just talk about, but incorporate them c. Sunset Church of Christ started Life Transformation Groups - Two to three people who covenant together - Meet at least weekly - No agenda other than sharing, encouragement, and accountability 3. Advanced level Bible classes a. Most currently are very basic with low expectations - Caters to the attenders b. Raise the bar - Classes for those committed to more than attendance c. Start with 100 level class - Leavenworth 101 - Introduction to the Leavenworth Church of Christ - 100 level courses, 200 level courses - Progression - Recognition when "graduate" to the next level 4. Invest in teacher development a. Personal and spiritual development - Books, films, programs, retreats, etc. b. Professional development - Seminars, video courses, etc. III. Hands (and feet) A. Need to translate it into action - Transformation 1. 1:10 - Next part of Paul's prayer for the Colossians a. That you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord b. Bearing fruit in every good work 2. This is where the rubber meets the road B. The Christian faith translates into action 1. We see this modeled in Jesus a. Didn't come and just lecture in a class room b. Didn't just say "listen to me" but "follow me" c. Jesus was a man of action 2. The Sermon on the Mount is about what you "do" a. Concluding verses - Mt 7:21 - Not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of Heaven - Only those who "do" the will of the Father b. Final thought - Mt 7:24f - Wise man built his house on the rock, house was firm and weathered storms - Those who hear these words and "acts on them" are like the wise man c. Jesus know full well what typically happens - Come to class, listen to and agree with biblical truth - May even question and comment on them - Then go home and keep living the way you are living - Don't say "lord, lord" and build your house on sand. 3. Significant part of the education of the disciples was action a. Jesus sent the 12 out on a mini mission Lk 9 b. Jesus sent 70 other out on a mini mission Lk 10 c. Both cases, when returned, he spent time with them to reflect on their learning experience - Lk 9:10; 10:17f d. Jesus' teaching method involved hands on training 4. This is why history of early church in Bible is called the book of "Acts," not the book of propositional truths. a. Like Jesus, Paul had people in training with him on his missionary journeys b. He wanted Timothy to do the same thing c. 2 Tim 2:2 - Tells Timothy to entrust his teaching to faithful men who will be able to teach others also d. Thinking three generations ahead - Self, Timothy, Faithful men C. ILL: Have you ever taken applied" classes before 1. Examples: Applied electronics, applied economics, etc. a. Where you take theory and learn how it works in the real world b. In some cases, it involves experiential learning c. Learn by doing 2. Some churches have incorporated a hands on education strategies 3. A church in Oklahoma does "lab" on Wednesday evenings a. Purpose is to create hands on learning experiences - Been studying the "theory" of Christian life - Ratchet up the education to "doing" Christian life b. It usually happens away from the building c. It is "applied Christianity" 4. Let's be honest - The Christian life is not an easy thing to master - That is why there is a need to quality education D. Very few churches get to this level 1. We have not worked to this level yet either 2. Closest things we have done that approaches this level a. We Care Training Clinic b. Some of the LTC projects - But needs more of a reflective evaluation before and after the project IV. Knowing God A. Without this, the rest is empty 1. 1:10b - The next part of Paul's prayer - Increasing in the knowledge of God 2. All of this is how you grow in knowing God B. It is more than just knowing the Bible 1. What is God's Revelation, his self-disclosure? a. It is NOT the Bible - When God came to Israel in the Exodus, that was his self-disclosure - When God came in the flesh through Jesus, that was his self-disclosure b. The people came to know God through "experience" c. The Bible is a "record" of God's self-disclosure, not his actual self-disclosure. Serious implications: - Just because you know the Bible doesn't mean you know God - Being able quote the "information" in the Bible does not mean you know God - God is not words on paper, but the living God - So how does the Bible fit in to knowing God? 2. The Bible is a tool, or a channel for the presence of God in your life, it itself is not the presence of God. a. Through the Bible you can "experience" the presence of God b. It will not be the same for everyone, but then not everyone who came face to face with God in the Bible had the same experience either 3. This is not saying that the word is not important a. It is indispensable - It is the sword of the Spirit b. It is a "tool" of the Spirit, who lives in us and empowers us c. Without being led by the Spirit, the Bible is just another book of stories, ethics, and philosophy - That is the perspective of the unconverted who reads the Bible d. So it goes beyond just information - Bible is a tool for the Spirit - Bible is a guide for us to experience God 4. I say all of this to highlight a serious pitfall in Bible study - Letting knowing the Bible substitute for knowing God a. It becomes all about having the correct interpretation b. Bible is so elevated, that knowing it correctly overshadows knowing the God it refers to c. Ironically, "sound doctrine" crowds out God d. Some call this "bibliolatry" - making an idol out of the Bible C. ILL: Analogy - How do you get to know someone? 1. Can read about them and quote information, but that doesn't mean you know them 2. First time I met Stacey a. Walked up the sidewalk, saw each other, eyes met, smile b. Something happened, it was the beginning c. No "information" was exchanged, but there was an experience d. We began to date and began to have many more "experiences" together 3. Knowing God also comes through experience a. The Spirit in us uses the word to create the experiences b. God does something through the Spirit as we walk with him whom our eyes cannot see c. As we follow in the footsteps of Christ and experience the presence of God, we come to know him D. You will not know God intimately through Bible study alone 1. You can read about other people who came to know God in the Bible 2. But until you start thinking the thoughts of Christ and doing the actions of Christ, God will remain distant in your life 3. You draw near to God by action, not by quoting scripture Concl: 1. So, good Christian education involves the head (information), the heart (formation of attitudes and values), and the hands (transformation of actions, service, ministry, etc). 2. When you do so, you come to know God (invitation) 3. Our total education program needs to incorporate all of these a. This lesson really didn't get into specific teaching methods or strategies b. There is an article in the bulletin that shows the considerations the Jesus had when selecting teaching strategies c. With this big picture view, perhaps we can reflect on improvements we can make to our teaching strategies 4. Some of it is going to be outside the box sort of stuff - The box being our building and classrooms ============= EXTRA MATERIAL: Developing a Philosophy of Education 1. It must address these four tensions creatively and strike a balance: a. The tension between nurture and evangelism b. The tension between instruction and fellowship c. The tension between needs orientation and content orientation d. The tensions between knowledge and character 2. A philosophy statement should encourage teachers to use all the resources that God has given 3. A philosophy should consider foundational questions: a. Who? Have I defined the audience for Christian education? Who should teach? What are the characteristics of an effective teacher b. What? What is your method? What are the non-negotiables in terms of teaching methods? c. When? When does Christian education take place? Is Christian education limited only to Sunday morning programs, or is it something that should take place throughout one's life? If it takes place throughout one's life, how do you encourage that? When in a person's life cycle and/or spiritual development are certain issues best raised? d. Where? Where does Christian education take place? Where does the Christian stand in terms of the dominant culture? Does a Christian stand in opposition to the culture? e. Why? Have I clearly stated the ultimate purpose of Christian education? 4. A philosophy should consider the theological basis a. The nature of God, that we are created in his image and we need to know him personally b. The state of human nature and our need for salvation c. The nature of the church, its place in God's plan, and its function as the Body of Christ d. The Bible, the written word of God and how God intended for it to be used e. The Lord Jesus Christ, as the Living Word, the Master Teacher, and our relationship to him personally f. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the teaching and learning process g. The place of prayer in our personal lives and in the teaching and learning situation h. The teaching and learning process and how it can be used effectively in the lives on learners i. The nature of Christian formation; What fosters Christian maturation? The relationship of the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, service, adoration, etc. to Christian maturation j. The significance of goals and objective in teaching and learning k. The roles of teachers and students in teaching and learning l. The significance of the learning environment in teaching and learning m. The relationship between authority and creativity n. The place of curriculum in our philosophy o. The selection and use of methods and materials in the teaching and learning process p. The significance of individuals and groups in the teaching and learning process q. The place of evaluation in teaching and learning 5. Recognize that the careful process of writing a philosophy can be as valuable as the philosophy itself The Teaching Methods of Christ Charles Nichols 1. Jesus selected his methods based on the ability of the student. This is seen in his teaching of Nicodemus (John 3) and the Samaritan woman (John 4) 2. Jesus selected His methods based on the attitude of the student. The methods used with the religious different from those he used with his disciples 3. Jesus selected his methods based on the size of the class. Compare the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) with the discourse with centurion (Matt 8:5-13). 4. Jesus selected his methods based on the location of his teaching. The teaching at the Pool of Bethesda (Jn 5:1-47) was handled differently from the teaching in Phoenicia (Mk 7:24-30). 5. Jesus selected his methods based on the content he was trying to communicate. The methods he used in his discourses at the start of his ministry differed from those in discourses at the end of it 6. Jesus selected his methods based on the purposes of his teaching. Compare the methods of John 5 (the feeding of the 5,000 and the lesson at sea) with John 6 (the discourse on the bread of life). 7. Jesus used a variety of methods in his teaching, however, his variety was purposeful. It could be said of him that as a teacher, he was not only a tactician with methods, but a strategist with objectives. 8. Jesus never let method overshadow the purpose of the content of the lesson. Methods to him were a means to the end, not an end. 9. Jesus based his methods on the practical, mundane lives of his students. The discourse by the sea (Matt 13:1-35) and the discourses about riches (Mt 19:15-20) demonstrate this concept. 10. Jesus use the methods of his day to their fullest potential. It could be said of him that he taught with authority (Matt 7:29). ======================== Process Guidelines During the summer season, beginning Sunday evening June 10th, the congregation will assemble at the building. During this gathering we will outline our plan for the Summer. This first meeting is an introductory overview. For the remaining eight weeks we will follow a pattern that works as follows: Sunday Morning Sermon: Introduce the topic for the week. Sunday Evening: Life Groups meet at the building but in separate rooms: Discuss the topic for the evening Develop ideas, recommendations and proposals Tie them to scripture and align them with our goals and objectives. Guidelines for Life Group discussion as it relates to the Topic 1. What’s the purpose of…(Topic of the week)? 2. How should we accomplish this purpose? 3. What should we… a. Keep doing? b. Start doing that’s different? c. Stop doing? Wednesday Evening: Congregation meets to: Hear each Life Group present the ideas, recommendations and proposals they developed the previous Sunday evening. Thoughts will be organized and presented in the form of these questions: 1. What did we learn? 2. What surprised us? 3. What is Important? 4. What should we do? Sunday Morning Bible Study Hour: Congregation Meets to… Process the Topic for the previous week Discussion Centered on three questions: 1. What happened? 2. What does it mean? 3. What will we do with it?