Christian Education

Why Biblical Foundations for Education Still Matter, Part 1

Presented to the Association of Christian Teachers and Christian School Regional Educators Convention, Grandview Christian School, Grandview, Missouri — November 2, 2018

Introduction

Mark Twain once famously said, “I never let schooling interfere with my education.” He also added that, “In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice, then he made the school board.” Twain’s humorous disdain for formal education might invite a chuckle or two, but it also affords an opportunity for educators to assess ourselves, to look in the mirror and consider whether we are being the benefit that we hope we might be or whether we are failing as miserably as those educators of which Twain spoke. Perhaps we are part of the problem. When he said that “nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits,” perhaps those other people to which he was facetiously referring was actually us. It is not enough to be driven to make a difference, we have to use the right tools, and we have to build on the right foundations.

Virginia Union University educator and dean, Matthew Lynch recently presented identified 18 reasons that he believed education in the U.S was failing. His reasons are thoughtworthy:

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Implementing the New Testament Emphasis in Adult Teaching Ministries

From Faith Pulpit, Spring 2018. Used with permission.

The first article demonstrated that teachers and teaching are two essential components of a New Testament church at any age level. This second article focuses specifically on the Bible teaching ministries for adults.

Adult Teaching Ministries Today

Churches today utilize three main Bible teaching ministries for adults:

  • Adult Sunday School classes (sometimes called adult Bible fellowships),
  • Specialized Bible studies (such as men’s and women’s Bible studies), and
  • Small groups (small groups of adults who meet at various times; sometimes called cell groups or life groups).

All of these ministries can serve a useful role in Bible teaching, but how do they compare when evaluated against the New Testament emphasis on teachers and teaching?

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Teaching and Teachers: Two Essential Components in a New Testament Church

From Faith Pulpit, Spring 2018. Used with permission.

A troubling trend is developing in churches today. This trend is not something we see in the “other” kinds of churches (i.e., the mainline, liberal churches) but in what we usually call “our” kind of churches—solid, Bible-preaching churches. The trend is a diminishing emphasis on Bible teachers and Bible teaching. This trend shows up in children’s and youth ministries, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in adult ministries, especially adult Sunday School classes.1 In this article we examine the New Testament emphasis on teachers and teaching and then suggest some action steps churches can take to reestablish their adult Sunday School classes.

The Gospels

The focus on Bible teaching in the gospels is on Christ’s teaching ministry. We see His emphasis on teaching in three areas: He was called a teacher, He had an extensive teaching ministry, and He included teaching in His last command to us.

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Mistakes Bible Teachers Make - Ineffective Questions

Teaching the Bible in a relatively small, somewhat informal setting provides unique advantages and blessing for both students and teachers. The spontaneity and interaction can often turn the class into a collaborative effort to edify and encourage one another, and no matter how high his level of expertise, the teacher is often edified as much as anyone else.

But there are many ways to reduce the effectiveness of this teaching format. Well-intentioned teachers can easily discourage participation, focus, and thoughtful engagement—in some cases to the point that everyone is discouraged and frustrated rather than built-up and refueled.

We’ll consider some common mistakes teachers make with this kind of teaching, focusing for now on question-related problems.

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Should Divorcees Be Forbidden to Teach or Lead in Local Churches?

The constitutions and bylaws of independent Baptist churches commonly include language that forbids divorced persons from teaching Sunday School or holding church office. The restriction is so common that of the dozens of church constitutions I’ve read and filed, only one or two lack some version of it. Since many churches with these restrictions have some history of conflict over them, the topic also tends to be seen as a minefield—best to fence it off and leave it alone.

But these same church constitutions and confessions of faith also strongly emphasize the authority of Scripture, and one question should always be welcome: Is what we’re doing biblical? Is it compatible with Scripture and the revealed nature and purposes of the church?

Let’s consider some arguments pro and con.

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