Guest / Limited Access /

The thought of watching my youngest pick up her high school diploma tomorrow has started me pondering education—in our nation and in the church.

I've been concerned about both, and I'm hardly alone. Teachers, students, parents, and administrators all can wax eloquent about the problems of public education. And anyone who has taught Sunday school knows that the joy of being with children during that hour is accompanied by concern about what exactly is being accomplished. In many churches, Sunday school feels like baby-sitting with a lesson attached.

Sensing a problem, we've created other venues to educate children—VBS, AWANAs, and so forth. Mostly, the church tells parents (rightly!) it is their "teaching" that ultimately matters the most. Yikes! This sends a bolt of fear through every parent's heart. I have a seminary degree, and I can tell you that I was often clueless about how exactly to teach my children about the faith.

One reason we feel inadequate is that we have inadvertently imbibed a sub-Christian notion of what it means to educate our children in the faith. This is natural, given the culture we inhabit, but it doesn't need to paralyze us. A 2001 essay by Debra Dean Murphy that originally appeared in Theology Today, "Worship as Catechesis: Knowledge, Desire, and Christian Formation," clarified some of my thoughts about Christian education.

...

Murphy calls this an objectivist view of learning, and while it is being challenged in many quarters, it is still deeply embedded in our educational system, as well as in the larger movement we call modernity: the quest for objective truth and individual autonomy.

This movement, as many have noted, originally developed as a way to avoid authority—that is, tradition, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedDied: Christopher Mitchell, Top Lewis Scholar, Biola Professor
Died: Christopher Mitchell, Top Lewis Scholar, Biola Professor
Director of Wade Center at Wheaton College for 19 years.
TrendingReligious Freedom vs. LGBT Rights? It's More Complicated
Religious Freedom vs. LGBT Rights? It's More Complicated
The legal context for what's happening at Gordon College, and how Christians can respond despite intense cultural backlash.
Editor's PickMeet the Failed Pastor Who Ministers to Other Failed Pastors
Meet the Failed Pastor Who Ministers to Other Failed Pastors
J. R. Briggs sympathizes with church leaders who don't live up to expectations.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

Christianity Today
The Cost of Christian Education
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

May 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.