The following is the first of a new series of articles in “The Minister’s Workshop.” This series will cover important trends in local church educational programs.

Among priorities for the local church today, none is more urgent than teaching. A church that fails here is delinquent at the heart of its mission. During his earthly ministry, our Lord was the master teacher; in his post-resurrection appearance on the Emmaus road, he expounded the Scriptures (Luke 24:27); the central emphasis in his Great Commission is upon teaching (Matt. 28:19, 20). And in Paul’s list of the gifts of the Spirit, teaching is indissolubly united with pastoral work—“he gave some … pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11).

The Church, particularly on the local level, needs to look critically at the way it is fulfilling its Lord’s commission to make disciples (learners) and to teach them to observe what he has commanded.

Scripture gives no detailed blueprint for Christian education in the local church. It simply sets before us the supreme model of Christ as teacher and tells us something of how and what the apostles (especially Paul) taught. And then it leaves the door open for the development of the Church’s teaching ministry through the ages.

Today denominational boards, cooperative projects in curriculum development, various publishers, and specialists in Christian education provide an abundance of teaching resources and materials. Yet it is still the local churches under the leadership of their “pastors and teachers” that are responsible for getting Christian education done. If not actually used, even the best curricula and teaching tools are lifeless; and through ill-considered use their effectiveness may be blunted. The local church and its pastor should ...

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