In a previous post I made the point that major points of Christian faith and doctrine are going untaught in our churches. I asked the question of whether or not church goers today really understood what salvation was really all about. The post closed with these words about education,
“The only way people in the pew are going to get it is if we start to teach it. If we are going to teach it we have to get it first ourselves. This does not mean we discount repentance, baptism, etc but it does mean we also fully endorse many other biblical principles and teachings on salvation itself.”
I was reading up on some critiques of Christian education and found what Dan Edelen had to say about this very insightful. In his post How the Church Can Improve Christian Education, Part 1, he wrote:
Christian education suffers from its own, peculiar failures.
Here is my take on what is not working:
1. We’re not transmitting basic Christian doctrine to our people.
2. We’ve undervalued and stymied the talents of the more artistic members of our churches.
3. As a result, we don’t connect creative vision with the Gospel, nor do we allow that vision to inform the practice of our doctrine.
4. As a result, we’ve fallen into patterns of operation that no longer work within a changing culture.
5. Because our patterns of operation are less effective and are met with increasing hostility (because they are deficient), we’ve adopted a bunker mentality.
6. Our bunker mentality further alienates the culture at large.
7. That alienation results in a continued loss of existing churchgoers and potential converts, and the people we do manage to keep are less deep in the faith because no greater vision exists.
Let’s start with the most pressing problem: The people in the seats don’t know the basics of the Christian faith.
He says the typical church education program has a “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” mindset. I can’t tell you how many times and at how many churches I have witnessed this myself. In his second post he gives even more background to why we are in the mess we are in. He believes it boils down to the lack of combining wrote learning with experience and letting people express the creative ways in which they learn in any way remotely connected with the gospel. This takes getting to know each student, what gifts and abilities they have and what learning style they have so we can connect them with the Gospel effectively. The hard part about that is we are dealing with a volunteer army of teachers that may not be able to effectively to this in a class of more than 10 people and often our classes get over 50 at a time.
Dan is going to post a third part with what he believes are some practical solutions to the dilemma we have in Christianity in America today. I look forward to reading what he has to say.