“At least a significant part of the church’s activities is committed to a process of education. Think about your church’s weekly diary from the preaching on Sunday to the Alpha course, from Sunday school to the women’s meeting, from the playgroup to cell group. Whatever else happens at any of our ’meetings’ there is a form of education being undertaken. That is implied in the meaning of the biblical word ‘disciple’—a follower who is a learner. The late David Watson wrote:
Christians in the West have largely neglected what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The vast majority…are church members, pew fillers, hymn singers, sermon tasters, Bible-readers, even born again believers or spirit-filled charismatics, but not true disciples of Jesus. If we were willing to learn the true meaning of discipleship and actually become true disciples the church in the West would be transformed, and the resultant impact on society would be staggering."
One consequence of evaluating the effectiveness of our teaching and the resulting learning is likely to be working to "ensure greater continuity between what is learnt in a 'church' context and the world outside—for example how does the material used with the 14-16 year old group complement and enrich the curriculum they are following at school? Are there ways of ensuring a more joined-up approach or at least providing the tools to enable them to think Christianly about the period they are studying in history, to give one example?"
There probably is no congregation that doesn't include at least one schoolteacher, professor, or trainer, but if the teaching role of parents is consider, congregations are "full of educators who need support and training!" Preparing God's people for works of service is one of the tasks of the church so equipping educators to teach in schools, colleges or universities should be part of the church's mandate. "Strange therefore that few churches have any provision for professional training from a Christian perspective. Neither is there generally a culture of seeking such opportunities among Christians."
"…frontline teachers are in a remarkable position to influence the lives of hundreds of young people on a daily basis. As role models and in developing a Christian thought-through approach to the curriculum, even given the framework in which they must often work, they can make a very real difference. In fact they are often in more of a mission context than many adult Christians. Amazing therefore that all too frequently it is the teacher who leaves to teach in an overseas mission school, or to join a Christian organisation away from teaching that receives the support, prayer and profile that many in the comprehensive classroom need as much if not more."
"Education is one of the most powerful shapers of individuals, the culture and society that there is. The reason is because education is about the whole of life—everything! …Education is also about the very nature of being human because it is about developing what human beings understand, can do or achieve and what they can be or become—in other words developing a person's potential. …Education should provide the tools as well as the content but each individual is responsible for what they hold in their heads, hands and heart."
"Education is what God expects of us as a lifelong process. We were created as learners and Christians therefore ought always to be engaging in the teaching and learning process."
"… it is difficult to see how a church cannot both focus on it's own educational ministry and support those whose 'full-time ministry' is education in the classroom or lecture hall, not least when you consider the significant impact such a calling can have on the lives of countless young people. There is in effect a cameo of society in each classroom and the Christian takes God and His Word incarnate into that context. We ignore them at our peril."