Node-Christian-Education1-large1Education: there are so many forms of it today–public, home school, Christian, private, adult, special, informal, primary, secondary, higher learning, and the list goes on. With so many choices, how do you know the best option for yourself, your children, and your family? I am not one that thinks there is a one-size-fits-all mold for education. However, I do believe as a follower of Jesus Christ, that any education we undergo ourselves or in which we place our children should be Christian. I am not arguing that every set of believing parents must put their children in a Christian school or they are sinning. No! What I want to continue sharing today in a series of posts concerning Christian education. This series is not about why you should send your children to a Christian school. Far from it! Instead I hope to help you frame your thinking about what “Christian education” really is and is not. Last week we discussed the content of Christian education. This week,  I want to discuss the methods of Christian education.

The Methods of Christian Education

Christian education must have a holistic approach if it is to have any lasting, life-changing results. In other words, if Christian education wishes to form people into the image of Jesus Christ, it has to focus on more than simply relaying information. Information is a great starting point, but if the only result of education is intellectual individuals, then the educational process has failed. Christian education must speak and teach to a person’s head, heart, and hands. It must change not only what a person knows about God, but how they feel and what they do in response to the knowledge they have.

When speaking of a holistic approach there are three elements in focus: intellect (Col. 3:10), emotion (Gal. 5:22), and will (Phil. 2:13).[1] Christian education must address these three areas if it is to make any progress in being used by God in the sanctification process.[2] In Deut. 6:5, God calls believers to love Him with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their might.[3] He wants people to love and serve Him with their whole being. Christian education must equip students to understand and fulfill the purpose of loving God with all they are. This means that the education process should include service trips, mission trips, Bible studies, worship time, prayer times, time for interaction and discussion, and a place to use their whole being to worship and love God. Peoples’ intellects, emotions, and wills must be addressed in the educational process.

Christian education must not only be holistic, but also varying. Christian educators must utilize differing teaching methods throughout their time with students. These different methods can include thinking activities, active learning, interactive learning, field trips, hands-on activities, drama, and music.[4] Christian education should mimic the teaching of Christ and the many differing teaching methods He used in educating and growing His disciples while on the earth. From parables to object lessons, Christ employed many methods to teach his disciples (Lk. 19:11-27; Matt. 21:18-22; Jn. 2, 10).[5] Estep quotes D. Lambert saying, “The world’s worst teaching method is the one you always use”.[6] His point is that variance in educational methods is essential.

One varying method of Christian education that is becoming popular and highly utilized is online learning. This experience should not be banned by Christian educators, but it must be thought through in a discerning manner in light of the entire educational process. Online experiences can be helpful because they enable people who typically could not get a specific education to gain that education since it is more readily available to the masses. Education should be extended and accessible to all socioeconomic classes which is the opportunity that online education provides. However, online education can prohibit or exclude an important feature of education—community. Community is not just important to Christian education; it is essential.

Christian education must take place in community. God is one who is by nature (Gen. 1:26; Matt. 28:19-20)[7] constantly in community. He has also designed mankind, particularly believers, to live in community (Gen. 1:26-27, 2:18-25; Acts 2:42-47; Ps. 78; 1 Cor. 12:12-30).[8] If the goal of Christian education is to cause people to be formed into the likeness of Jesus Christ and He is always in community, then Christian education must pursue a setting where community is highly valued and employed. Lack of community can be a downfall of online education; however, it is possible for Christian educators to intentionally include a community aspect to online education.

Christian education flows in every way out of God’s Word as mature believers model and mentor younger believers to spiritual maturity. Understanding what the content of Christian education is vital to having an education that is truly Christian. In case you missed part 1 of the series: Christian Education: Definition and Goals, or part 2: Christian Education: the Teacher, or part 3: Christian Education: the Student, or part 4: Christian Education: the Content, check them out here. Stop by next week where the topic will be Christian Education: the Various Philosophies.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2003), 984, 975, 981

[2] Michael J. Anthony. Introducing Christian Education: Foundations for the Twenty-first Century. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 86-87

[3] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2003), 151

[4]  Thom & Joani Schultz. Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Church: And How to Fix It. (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 1996), 107-108, 133-134, 179-180

[5]The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2003), 878, 826, 887, 896-897

[6] James R. Estep Jr. A Theology for Christian Education. (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 289

[7] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2003), 1, 835

[8] Ibid., 1-2, 911, 959