Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Goal of Christian Education in the Church

The role of Sunday School teachers in the local church is often overlooked. The job is usually assigned to anyone available, without any thought as to either giftedness to teach, or (more commonly) without any thought to spiritual maturity. But the duty is, however, a very important one.

The importance of the Sunday School Teacher centers in the goal of Christian Education in the Church. What is this goal? To grow a congregations knowledge of the Bible and of God, and to increase love for God. It is to our shame that most church see Sunday School as a social hour, as babysitting for little ones, or as a time to wake up before the real service. There is something fundamentally wrong with the Sunday School teacher who does not desire to increase his hearers in the knowledge of God. Why else teach?

The responsibility lies with the church as a whole. The church, and particularly those put in positions of authority, are to appoint Sunday school teachers with this mindset, and furthermore to train them in how to do this. A Yearly Sunday school teachers seminar might be a good thing. But the other option is to give teachers something meaningful to do. Don't just stress their responsibilities to increase knowledge of God among members, but give them the best tools to do so.

Often materials used for Sunday School reflect a shallow, surface level Bible Study. Rarely do you see deep meaningful doctrinal study, book study, or application from the text of Scripture associated with Sunday School Material. There are, however, exceptions. I encourage all pastors to check out the Adult Education material developed by Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and the children's material developed by Desiring God Ministries. Each of these resources provide meaningful, deeply theological, and Biblically accurate studies of the faith.

From New and Old TEstament Surveys, Systematic Theology, Church History, and other areas the Capitol Hill Baptist Church Adul Education material is superbly developed and while most definately increasing a congergations knowledge of the things of God will be accessible to them. It is neither simplistic nor overly academic! It is just what the church needs.

The Desiring God Children's materials will help both teachers and children learn greatly about the Lord. The materials require the teachers to invest in the study of the Word of God themselves as they, with help from the curriculum, write each weeks lesson themselves. Furthermore the studies are amazingly clear and inviting for children, while also being a bridge to thinking God's thoughts after Him. Pastor John Piper and his church staff are proving to the church across the world that kids can understand deeper theology if we are only willing to teach it to them.

Let's reform our Sunday school by remembering that the goal of all Christian Education is to increase our knowledge of and love for God. Pastors, it begins with you!


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