Why Christian Education?
I go to church on Sunday, isn’t that all the education I need as a Christian?
The purpose of Christian education is to connect people with God, through scripture, so that they might grow in faith. Sometimes we forget that it is important to continue fostering this connection into adulthood. United Methodists believe that our teaching and theological understanding must be based upon scripture, though, of course, informed by reason, tradition, and experience. In order for people to have a faith that is constantly growing deeper, they must view themselves as connected to the biblical witness to Christ. A great way for a pastor to coach the theology of the congregation is by making sure that they are formed by the biblical story through intentional Bible study.
I grew up as a part of what I have recently taken to calling, “The Thirteen Year Christian Education Plan.” This appears to be the norm of what is offered from my experience of the UMC. Attending Sunday school and church each week is how we teach children for their thirteen years of childhood, between kindergarten and twelfth grade. It helps to familiarize students with a significant portion of the Hebrew Bible stories, the Gospel accounts of Jesus, and the letters of Paul. Because scripture is a priority, teaching the Bible to children is of utmost importance. Although many churches use this method, sometimes they forget about a continued system of study for adult members. Refraining from regularly teaching adults is to assume that they all grew up attending church or that there is nothing left to teach them. However, I see it as essential that adults are not left out of this very important work.
Even when others are the ones teaching, as is typically the case in children’s Sunday school, the pastor should still be involved in the planning process to see that people are being shaped by the scriptural narrative and taught from a United Methodist perspective. If the pastor truly is the theologian of the church, then she or he cannot neglect the duty to see that the congregation is instructed in the ways of scripture and the teachings of the Church.
As such, Trinity is currently working on new methods for teaching adults and children at our church. We want to see everyone connect to God in the scripture. And lately, we have begun doing this important work in teaching foundational Christian theology. We hope to create heavy hitters; people who are ready to engage the world about the deepest questions of the of the universe. We continue to pray that God will use us to teach, to make disciples, and to transform the world.