Question: What could be done to help ministers and church leadership team appropriately maximize the potentials of education in the works of church?
This question could best be approached by briefly explaining who are ministers, church leadership team, education and church.
In the Baptist setting, those referred to as ministers are those who have been trained in a theological seminary and who are serving in the church or other denominational establishment e.g., Pastors, minister of education, youth or children directors, seminary lecturers, Missionaries etc.
Other denominations and Pentecostal churches have their own ideas of who a minister is. Especially in the Pentecostal churches whether formally trained or not, those who engage in ministry work through the on-the-job training are designated ministers.
In the Baptist setting and in the church, those called ministers are those assigned portfolio e.g., the pastor, minister of education, music minister, children and youth ministers.
Church leadership team:This is described as a pool of ministers and volunteer workers in the church who are males and females that have the responsibility of providing leadership for the entire church as they work together.
Church is a body of persons who have become children of God by receiving Jesus Christ, by believing in his name and who have voluntarily joined themselves together to share the fellowship of his love and carry out his will in the world. Living obedience to him as we live our lives together is a primary focus of a church. The church is not the building but the people who gather themselves together for the purpose of worshiping God. The term Church is a translation of a Greek word having to do with a meeting together or an “assembly” (1Thessalonians2:14, 2Thessalonian1:1). This word pertains to the work of God in saving and sanctifying believers as “called out ones”.
Education has been defined by various educators in diverse manners. In fact, there are as many definitions as there are educators who care to find an answer to what education is all about. No single definition is sufficed enough to cater for all schools of thoughts and all stakeholders of education.
Education like an umbrella has a wide scope which lend itself to as many thoughts as possible. Each focusing on aspects pertinent to the interest of the person concerned. Some definitions that will enlighten are as follows:
Plato defines a good education as “consistency in giving to the body and the soul all the beauty and all perfections of which they are capable.” This looks incomplete as it talks of the body and soul but leaves out the soul. The soul is the seat of emotion so man can love; feelings and sensitivity and thinking whereas the spirit is about the character, nature, outlook or heart whereby man fellowships with his creator. John4:24 says “God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” Therefore, education that fails to take care of the spirit is deficient as far as the aspect of man as worship being is concerned.
Buconyoru quoted Wilhoit (1986) that ‘to educate comes from Latin ducere or educere which means “to lead out”. The leading out is in three processes according to him they are:
1. A point from which
2. A present process and
3. A future towards which the leading out is done.
In this wise teacher starts with where his/her students are — what they know already. Second is about what they are about to discover and third is where their discovery would lead them to through inferences.
In other words, education must start with the stuff the child has — he/she is not a tabularasa. Then with the help of the teacher’s method the child will discover new findings that through inferences he is drawn out beyond what he is, to become what they are not but have potentials to be. Education in this wise is a joint venture between the learner and the teacher. Students’ involvement and participation is very important.
Education has also been defined as a social process whereby a community, a society or a nation transmit to the emergent generations those traditional and cultural aspects of its culture for the survival of the group.
Purpose of education.
The purpose of education includes behavioural modification, preservation of certain societal values such as as honesty, integrity, faithfulness etc. It is also for social change. Education brings with it many changes in the community and the lives of the people. It raises standard of living and bring about information awareness and transformation in the society. It provides job opportunities for self reliance as it engages the young and agile in the society such that it checks on some behaviour typical of ruffians and jobless youths such as hooliganism, robbery and other vices.
Education in the church must essentially be Christian education. Christian education is a deliberate systematic and sustained defined human effort to share or appropriate knowledge, attitudes, skills that comprise or are consistent with Christian faith. This implies that the education must not be harphazard, it must be deliberate or intentional. It must be serially arranged for continuous flow of thought and reasoning. It must not only be of human effort, it must be Holy Spirit empowered to ignite it to produce the expected results of good and Christlike nature in the learners. It must not be just route learning but such that will give room for positive response in the learner and that can lead to conversion.
Biblical basis for church education that is Christian: God commands parents in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to teach their children in the law, the commandment or decree which is the Torah. Christian education essentially has it’s root in the Biblical injunctions called the shema. There it can be discovered the teacher, the contents, the goal and purpose of education.
Initially, it was the role of the parents taught and equipped by the priests to teach their children. Their failure which led Israel to captivity led to the taking over by the Rabbi and the idea of schools in the synagogues. The contents of education are the law, the commandments and or the decrees. The purpose of education was to spur up or promote the development of the love of Yahweh through obedience and loyalty. However, we can see God as the teacher, the author and revealer of truth.
In the New Testament, Jesus was consistently referred to as the Rabbi, the teacher. He was commended and tagged the master teacher because he taught with authority not as the scribes (Matt7:29). He communicated very well. He used various methods such as questioning, parables, illustrations. He used instructional materials to illustrate his teachings e.g seeds and soil in parable of sower, he likened the Kingdom of God to a man scattering seeds (Mark4:26) and to a mustard seed (Mark4:31) etc. He commanded to continue teaching (Matt28:20), he raised disciples to continue the work of teaching.
What could be done
1. Set up a Christian education committee or board. The board must consist of men and women of proven character. They must be experienced Christian educators. They must be interested in various age-groups in the church. The pastor must be the chief educator to provide guidance and direction. The leadership must be updated on current curriculum materials for all age groups.
2. Sensitize them to the place and roles of Sunday school as the main educational ministry of the church.
3. Teach them the age group classification in the church as various avenues through which the Sunday school is carried out.
4. Initiate educational leadership team to be headed by the Sunday School superintendent who is answerable to the pastor. All leaders of each age group must be responsible and committed under the superintendent who also must be God-fearing, Holy spirit controlled and available.
5. The leaders must meet weekly to preview the lesson to be taught next Sunday.
6. They should be creative and use relevant and sustainable method to the need of the learner. teaching should be interactive, Biblically balanced and learner-centered. They must imbibe the culture of time consciousness.
7. They must refer all difficult questions to the church pastor who is the chief educator of the church.
8. They must have periodic evaluation of their methods, the materials, the personnel, performance and results of the education.
9. They must learn to budget adequately to effectively purchase materials for Sunday school, teachers’ training etc.
There must be arrangement for seminars and trainings for leaders. Also, there must be specialized trainings for each age group leaders.