I’ve been thinking a little bit about education. This may come as a shock to you because I was raised in a family where my mother was a school counselor for an elementary school and an alternative high school, while my father was a 2nd grade teacher, worked for the state department of education, and is now a principal (note the sarcasm.) I sort of bucked the trend when I decided to go into ministry, even though my two of my grandparents are/were ministers. This “bucking the trend” was also compounded when my brother chose to be a teacher, and later got married to…a teacher! I literally get lost in the conversation when I go home because I’m surrounded by teachers (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But this little context is necessary when you try to understand where I’m coming from.
Right now I’m taking a class called the Church’s Educational Ministry. It is pretty much an intro class to education within the church. When one, including myself, thinks of education within the church, the mind usually goes to one place…Sunday school. While I think that religious instruction, or teaching about the Bible, is important, I agree with the vast majority of church educators that say that education about becoming a Christian happens first with the parents. I can use myself as an example.
Growing up among my parents, education was important, but what was more important that educating me was that I was taught to love to learn. My parents couldn’t drill this love of learning in me by memorizing educating techniques or making me memorize lines, I had to have an example. I saw my parents read, my parents read to me, my parents helped me learn and let me learn about whatever I wanted to. My parents created an environment that was conducive to learning. I blame them for this curse where if I take a break from reading for seminary, I start reading about sports, history, politics, etc. I take a break from reading to…read.
All of this is not to say that developing Christians is completely up to the parents of the child, far from it. I am a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child not because I have kids, but because I’ve seen it and lived it. What I am saying is that parents do have a responsibility to foster in their kids a healthy sense of curiosity about their faith, to show kids that applying the teachings of Jesus, and to show them that mission and service are just as important aspects in their faithfulness to Jesus as is going to Sunday school every week. (This does not mean that my high schoolers shouldn’t come to Sunday school anymore…if you’re reading this!)