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 methods of Christian education. This week,  I want to discuss the various philosophies of Christian education.

Evaluation of Christian Education

Evaluation plays an important role in the philosophy and practicality of Christian education. Without evaluation, there can never be any intentional improvement in the process of moving people toward Christ-likeness. All of life is an ongoing evaluation. God models this in Genesis 1 when, after each day of creative ingenuity, He stops to evaluate each creation calling it all “good”.[1] The purpose of evaluation in Christian education is to assure the goal of Christ-likeness is being accomplished to the greatest extent possible.

Evaluation must take place in such a way that the goal and purpose of Christian education is propelled forward and not discouraged. Truth must be spoken in love because in every realm of the educational process people are involved and should be dealt with lovingly. God’s Word consistently calls His followers to examine and reevaluate their lives. If God calls individual believers to do such evaluation, why should Christian education not do the same?

Evaluation should be performed on all five levels of educational philosophy: the goal, the teacher, the learner, the content, and the method. Christian education first needs to be evaluated to see if it is accomplishing the goal of making individual believers into the image of Christ. If the class, Bible study, meeting, or mode in question does not form people into the likeness of Christ, it should be revamped to meet the goal or be eliminated. The entire process of Christian education must be aimed at and accomplishing, to the best of its ability, the purpose of causing believers to become more Christ like.

The teacher must also undergo evaluation of their content, methods, and interaction with the student. This needs to be done graciously and mercifully, but it must be done to grow both the teacher and the students. The prayer of every teacher should be that of King David in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”[2] The learner or student of Christian education must undergo some evaluation from time to time also. Just as with the teacher, the student needs to be doing self evaluation constantly, as well as inviting evaluation from others. Evaluation is a valuable tool for both students and teachers in the Christian education process.

Finally, the content and method of education should undergo evaluation regularly for accountability and effectiveness. The Christian educator needs to be asking of himself and the content he is teaching:

  • Is this the truth being presented in God’s Word, the text, life circumstances?
  • Am I studying the Word faithfully and personally before I go to teach it?
  • How can I more effectively teach this material?
  • Is there a better way to teach this material to this group?
  • What are some new and fresh ideas to presenting this familiar material?
  • How is this applicable to the student and their lives?

These are just some examples of self-evaluation questions that Christian educators should be answering as they interact with the material and students on a regular basis.[3]

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, or part 5: Christian Education: the Methods, part 6: Christian Education: Various Philosophies, check them out here. Stop by next week where we will summarize the series Christian Education.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2003), 1-2

[2] Ibid., 522

[3] James R. Estep Jr. A Theology for Christian Education. (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 291-293