March 31, 2017

The Dismal State Of Church Education

Just airing a grievance here. And I come at this from two perspectives: biblical theology (the study of God and his revelation) and pedagogy-andragogy (the art and science of learning).

At one time I was a serious student of the Proverbs. (I’d love to teach through the Proverbs if the Lord ever provides an opportunity.) And I have two sermons online from the Proverbs, which provide background and context for the point I want to make here:

Educating Ourselves To Death
Living Wise Among The Foolish

The Proverbs teach us Simpletons that there are two highways through life—and many crossroads between. The Broad Road leads progressively through Sin, Scoffing, and Folly, before reaching its final destination, Destruction. The Narrow Road leads progressively through Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom, before reaching its final destination, Salvation.

This pattern of growth from knowledge to understanding to wisdom is found everywhere: purgation, illumination, union; grammar, logic, rhetoric; apprentice, journeyman, master; shu ha ri; etc.

From the world of pedagogy-andragogy we know that people learn in many different ways, and that these ways vary not only by age but by stage of learning. (So, yes, this gets complicated.) Without getting into details here, suffice it to say the least effective method of education is simple lecture, or sermonizing, unless the Holy Spirit sets it ablaze. Just consider how Christ discipled—more of a Montessori approach—vs. how churches disciple today. And that difference is a significant part of our problem!

How much of all of this do church educators, disciplers, and catechists seem to know? You guessed it: nearly nothing. And the worst of it is that nobody is talking about it. Go ahead and Google it; you’ll come up with nothing. The only thing I can find is a reference to an unpublished doctoral dissertation on the topic by a PCA pastor, David Wallover, in Ohio. I contacted him and he says they’re working on this at their church and we may see a book someday; drop him a line of encouragement 😊 Maybe there are, in fact, other churches and ministries out there working on this too—a couple that come to mind are Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the CS Lewis Institute.

Maybe I should be developing discipleship curricula instead of management training curricula? 

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