Why Christian Education?
A sermon was posted the other day by Dave Csinso, an author and researcher (among many other things) in regard to children’s spirituality (from an emergent perspective). Posted on his blog, Such as These, this article has been making the rounds in a variety of places. So if you haven’t had the privilege of reading it, here is a portion with the link to totally immerse yourself in his sermon, based on Luke 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 13:11-12.
“So, what does Christian education that empowers young people for theological reflection entail?
First, it entails the acquisition of knowledge. It helps children to learn the classics of the faith that are the Old and New Testament. It allows children to walk around in the Bible and come to know the great story of God as well as their place within this ongoing and living story.
Second, it involves authentic spiritual experiences. It seeks to nurture not just the head, but also the heart. Christian education—whether in the home or the church—entails helping children to experience God in ways that they find to be life-giving for their spirits. Some children may love playing in nature or walking along a babbling brook; others may have a deep-set need to dance freely to passionate music; and others may find that God is closest to them when they are involved in God’s mission for the world. Whether alone or with others, inside or out-of-doors, in nature, a beautiful building, or in the inner sanctuary of their bedroom, children need to be given opportunities for Spirit-to-spirit connections with God.
Third, Christian education finds its foundation in the words, teachings, and actions of Jesus. This is what makes education Christian—it empowers children to become followers of the risen Lord and teaches them not only to ask “What would Jesus do?” but also “What would Jesus have me do in this time and place?”
And, finally, Christian education that empowers children for theological reflection takes seriously their status and kingdom kids par excellence. Whether we are parents, teachers, volunteers, ministers, aunts, uncles, or grandparents, we who nurture children, who provide them with an education that is Christian, we can in turn be nurtured by the children in our midst. As we help children prepare for moments of complexity, perplexity, and eventual harmony, children remind us of the simplicity of pure, unadulterated faith. They remind us to see God in a small act of kindness, to hear God amidst the noise of our lives, and the sense God’s presence in the coolness of the morning dew as we walk across the grass.
Christian education is relational. It’s a two-way street, a never-ending process of giving and taking and giving. As faithful adult followers of Jesus seek to offer children Christian education, may they in turn be blessed by the gift that is the presence of these exemplary members of the kingdom of God. And as children learn what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus, they mustn’t forget that they have much to teach adults as well.”
Read his entire sermon at Such as These posted on July 15, 2011.