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Christian Education: Summary

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 have not been arguing that every set of believing parents must put their children in a Christian school or they are sinning. No! This series was not about why you should send your children to a Christian school. Far from it! Instead I hope I have helped you frame your thinking about what “Christian education” really is and is not. Over the last number of weeks we have discussed the many aspects of Christian education. This week,  I want to simply summarize all the discussion on Christian education.

Summary

Christian education may come in many sizes, shapes, forms, methods, and times of life, but one thing is sure—if the education is truly Christian it will be focused on Jesus Christ and growing individuals to become more like him. The whole point of Christian education is not to make people knowledgeable about the Bible, although that will happen. It is not to make a nicer, cleaner, less criminal society, although that may happen. It is not even to cause families, communities, and nations to be more concerned for each other and the needs around them. The point of Christian education is to cause people to love and value Christ so highly that they become more like Him day after day.

Throughout the educational process many things will change—the content distributed, the methods utilized, and the individuals involved—but one thing must remain the same for education to be recognized as Christian. The goal of forming individuals into the likeness of Christ must not change. The goal and purpose is what sets apart any educational program, philosophy, or practice. Only with Christ likeness as its purpose and mindset should any individual or institution claim to be performing Christian education. The only true Christian education focuses on God, forms people into Christ likeness, and looks forward to an eternity spent with Him.

I hope you have enjoyed this series on Christian education. More than that, I pray that you have been challenged in your thinking about and carrying out an education that is truly Christian in nature. Whether it be in your home, classroom, church, or other social setting, may all the education in your life be truly seeking to be Christian. Remember, Christian education flows in every way out of God’s Word as mature believers model and mentor younger believers to spiritual maturity. 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, or part 7: Christian Education: Evaluation, check them out here. Thanks for being part of this series with us!

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Christian Education: Evaluation

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

Christian Education: Various Philosophies

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.

Various Philosophies and Christian Education

                Various philosophies exist on education and how it should be performed. From the Realist to the Idealist, philosophies on education are not hard to find; however, Christian educators must be discerning as to which philosophies to utilize in their own teaching. There are good, truthful things to be learned from philosophers, but there are also dangers to avoid when seeking to adopt new methods, content, or ways of thought to a truly Christian education. There are at least five philosophies that present positive insight into the educational process—Idealism, Realism, Educational Humanism, Essentialism, and Behaviorism.

These five philosophies do not originate from Christian backgrounds, but do present important insight into education. For instance, Idealism states that truth is perfect and eternal, which is consistent with the Christian belief that God is perfect and the eternal truth. (Jn. 14:6; Deut. 32:4; Titus 1:2; Heb. 1:3) [1]  Realism purports that the inductive method of study should be stressed which God’s Word testifies to as well (Rom. 1:18-20; Ps. 19:1)[2]. Educational Humanism maintains that education is built on trust and security. This corresponds to God’s design for education to occur primarily in the home (Deut. 6:5-9; Ps. 78; Prov. 3:5-6).[3] Essentialism also adds to education the idea that hard work is necessary to learning, discipline is needed and beneficial, and authorities must be respected.[4] Finally, Behaviorism states that the laws of nature should be studied.[5] Several good principles can be drawn from these five secular philosophies.

The positive principles pulled from the secular philosophies not only line up with Scripture, but are derived from Scripture. The authors and developers of each philosophy have only discovered what God has intended and planned before time began. He is the author of the universe and of all things (Col. 1:16; Gen. 1); therefore, anything that man may discover is ultimately an insight from the Lord. Each of the philosophies need to be seen and evaluated in light of the Scriptures. When evaluating, a Christian educator must always keep in mind the goal and purpose of Christian education. The educator could easily become pragmatic in perspective and begin to utilize a behaviorism philosophy of trying to change people’s actions instead of their hearts and lives. Therefore, prayer and constant reflection on God’s Word is foundational and crucial when considering how to integrate other philosophies into Christian 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, or part 5: Christian Education: the Methods, check them out here. Stop by next week where the topic will be Christian Education: Evaluation.

[1] George R. Knight, Philosophy & Education: an Introduction in Christian Perspective, 4th Edition. (Barren Springs: Andrews University Press, 2006), 44-48

[2] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2003), 939, 456

[3] Ibid., 151, 488, 528,

[4] George R. Knight, Philosophy & Education: an Introduction in Christian Perspective, 4th Edition. (Barren Springs: Andrews University Press, 2006), 121-124

[5] Ibid., 133-134

Christian Education: the Methods

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

 

Christian Education: the Content

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 role of the student in Christian education. This week,  I want to discuss the content of Christian education.

The Content of Christian Education

                When speaking of content in the context of Christian education there is one foundational source – theology or the study of God, which is based on God’s Word. The Bible must be the beginning and ending point in Christian education. Without it, Christian education would merely be another philosophy and practice among the many others in the educational world today. With it, Christian education stands above the rest because of its solid grasp on truth, reality, and logic along with its methods for leading people into a life changing experience and understanding of the Creator, Savior, and Sustainer.[1] To fully understand the God of the universe one must understand the book in which He has specifically revealed Himself.  Theology, which flows out of Bibliology, deeply influences Christian education.

Since God’s Word is inspired, or breathed out by God, as 2 Tim. 3:16[2] asserts, the Bible should be the foundation and guidebook for every educational practice. The Bible is vital to Christian education because it ultimately reveals who God is, what He is like, and what His actions are to the world. However, Christian education cannot be so naïve as to believe that the Bible is to be the only “textbook”. Other books, resources, and materials should be used; however, all curriculum considered for a Christian educational program must focus on Scripture, flow from Scripture, further the study of Scripture, allow for the Holy Spirit, and be future oriented.[3] If the content of Christian education does not meet one or more of these criteria it should not be considered as part of the curriculum for Christian education.

Along with meeting certain criteria, the content of Christian education should utilize both the Old and New Testament. Both Testaments together make up God’s Word and therefore make up the entire revealed Word of God. With this in mind, Christian educators must make every effort to incorporate both Testaments in order to help students grow into a deeper understanding of God’s design to form them into the image of Christ. This means that the teacher must not only teach “Bible stories” in Sunday school or in younger grade levels, but must draw out the principles to be practiced in life and help the students apply them to their lives. The New Testament must also be utilized not only as history and a prescription for how to live, but as the process and procedure for how to grow to become more like Christ daily. The content of Christian education must include the whole counsel of God.

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, check them out here. Stop by next week where the topic will be Christian Education: the Methods.


[1] George R. Knight. Philosophy & Education: an Introduction in Christian Perspective, 4th Edition. (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2006), 221-226

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2003), 996.

[3] James R. Estep Jr. A Theology for Christian Education. (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 280-283

Christian Education: the Student

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 role of the teacher in Christian education. This week,  I want to discuss the role of the student in Christian education.

Christian Education and the Student

Though the Christian educator must model and mentor, they cannot take full responsibility for the process of maturing a believer; some responsibility must rest on the learner. The ultimate truth that must be understood about students of Christian education is that they are image bearers of God (Gen. 1:26-27).[1] This understanding will make a significant difference in the student and also in the student/teacher interaction. The idea that the student is an image bearer of God should increase the teachers’ awareness with regard to how they interact with the student. With this in mind, the Christian education student must bear the responsibility and be seen both as a learner and as a future leader.

The student is a learner of who God is, how they are to respond to God, and how they can become more like God. This learning should take place in all realms of life as the student interacts with different teachers and influences because God uses multiple forms of education to impact people (Gen. 6-8, 37-50 Ex. 3; Deut. 6:4-9; the disciples, etc).[2]  The student must be one who, as 2 Timothy 2:15 states, “presents themselves to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth”. The Christian education student is also a future leader since the goal of Christian education implies that as students mature, they will become teachers as well. Ultimately, the student should be growing in their knowledge, love, and service of the Lord.

Student should one day be teaching other generations and those who come behind them (Eph. 4:13-14)[3]. Part of this process includes the students recognizing their gifts and beginning to utilize and develop those gifts (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, 1 Pet. 4).[4] The student must learn to serve God by serving others through the use of their God-given gifts and abilities. They should desire to be like their Savior who, as Matthew 20:28 declares, “Came not to be served but to serve”[5]. Students must be seeking ways to utilize, grow in, and mature in the gifts and abilities they have been given. They should look for these opportunities in varying settings including youth group, school, community, home, and extra-curricular programs. Students must seize the opportunity to fulfill their responsibility to grow and pursue Christ likeness.

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 role of the student is in 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, check them out here. Stop by next week where the topic will be Christian Education: the Content.


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

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

[3] Ibid., 978

[4] Ibid., 978, 948, 959, 1016

[5] Ibid., 825

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