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Christian Education When Should It Begin When Should It End?

By Author: Phil Herr
Total Articles: 3

In far too many cases, Christian churches have neglected a major portion of our responsibility: Christian Education. Even the use of that term holds different meanings in different congregations. For many, it means Sunday school classes and a short, summertime Daily Vacation Bible School. Even in these limited venues, the “education” often isn’t emphasized nearly so much as group fellowship / entertainment / fun. Just what IS Christian Education, and toward what group(s) should it be focused?

Sunday School

First, let’s consider traditional Sunday school. It was originally invented as a way to reach out to poor children who would otherwise have received little or no education and little or no Christian training – and it combined both aspects of education. Even though this is the 21st century and most of our readers are probably in developed countries – there is still a need for such an emphasis. The Church ought to be reaching out to the unreached, and the only prospect of doing that successfully is to begin with children who are susceptible to our influence. In other words, we must begin at the beginning – while the kids are young.

Sunday school is not just for “community kids”, though. Properly planned Sunday school classes will actually train “church kids”, helping to prepare them to fit into a classroom setting so that they are better equipped for kindergarten. At the same time, they receive foundational Christian training, becoming familiar with Bible stories and basic doctrine. The truth is that children who have attended Sunday school are better equipped to receive a quality academic education.

We shouldn’t stop with pre-school, though. A well planned Sunday school will be attractive to kids of all ages, and will enable the church to provide a Christian influence to children during that phase of their lives when most of their waking hours are spent out of the home, in school and related activities. For kids who attend public schools, Sunday school may be almost the only Christian influence in their lives. It’s important that the church do it well, because unless we train up faithful Christians, when they are grown, then we will have little opportunity to reach most of them.

Adult Education

So what about Adult Sunday school? Does it have any value? It absolutely does. God’s instruction to us is

“24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, 25 not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.” - Hebrews 10:24-25 (NET)

As long as adults are able to interact and understand, we should encourage them to…

“grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18, KJV)

Grade School

We shouldn’t limit our educational efforts to just Sunday School, though. In the United States, and in most developed countries, it’s unrealistic to hope or to expect for public school districts to provide a Christian education. Since public schools actually sometimes undermine Christian faith, it is incumbent upon God’s church to offer a high quality education which is presented from the perspective of a Christian world-view as can be done through private Christian schools or independent Christian schools.

In fact, excellent curricula are available, and Christians need not be at all embarrassed about the legitimacy of such training. The truth is that due to the excessive scrutiny which is sometimes directed our way, Christian education often achieves a higher standard of excellence.

College

Christian Colleges and Universities offer the opportunity for young people to pursue high quality training in a Christian setting in higher education, as well. Such education is valuable, not only for positions in Church and Mission work, but in every aspect of life, whether medicine, science, industry, commerce, or agriculture. Secular schools may attempt to disparage a Christian education, but we must not allow them to defame the value of Christian oriented training. Rather, Christian institutions, already meeting a higher standard, should challenge the secular schools to put up or shut up.

So, when should Christian Education begin? We should begin training little children as soon as they are old enough to enjoy listening to stories. When should it end? We should stop training adults when they are no longer able to comprehend the lessons – which means, in most cases, as long as they live. Throughout our lives, though especially during the years of traditional academic training – roughly ages 5 - 25 – Christian Education should be one of our top priorities.

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