What is the Educational Task of the Church?
Well, Jesus put it in this way: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. (Matthew 28:19-20; NIV) From this writer’s perspective, teaching them relates to imparting (teaching) the Word of God (Bible) into the lives of (them) the “body of Christ”. Matthew 28 calls us to teach them about the Hero of the Old and the New Testaments. In the Old and New Testaments, religious instruction used both naturally occurring events in the home and environment and direct instruction from the synagogue, to teach the Word of God. The task of the church is to teach the church about our Hero, Jesus Christ.
Did you have a hero growing up? Was it a superhero, a movie star or a sports legend? My heroine was Dale Evans. She was a cowgirl married to Roy Rogers. I dreamed about helping Roy catch the bad guys and ride a wild stallion. My Dale Evans outfit was complete with pistols and cowgirl hat. The educational task of the church is about growing everyone up to be like someone- not a superhero, movie star, sports legend, Dale Evans or any childhood hero but to grow them up like Christ- the Hero of our lives. As God’s children, our hearts should be yearning to grow up like Jesus.
The church’s educational task involves teaching those of all ages. Small children must be nurtured. Youths must be encouraged, supported and redirected. Adults require knowledge about the various stages of adulthood- adult, middle age and senior. Ultimately, the church’s educational task must be to teach all, in every stage of life and to accomplish this task with and individualistic ministry to each.
How is the church’s educational task delivered? At this point, a long expose could follow, extolling the diverse plans, programs and techniques of teaching. For Christian educators, the primary concern is the matter of the Bible’s place in the church curriculum. The Bible must be the authority of all teaching, including the lesson planning, the content, presentation and the understanding of the teaching/learning process.
As preachers, teachers and storytellers, we have the awesome yet difficult task of communicating the Bible to the church. We successfully accomplish this communication by inviting learners into a transformation realm of leaving behind the old ways of being and proceed into a new avenue of becoming more like Christ. Learners can be assisted to recognize that God’s story found in scripture is the unfolding story of their lives. As educators, we share the stories of God’s glory seen in the pages of the Old Testament and the love and obedience of Christ in the New Testament. For the recent past we can recall the stories of renewal and revival from Haiti, Africa and Indonesia.
What are the other factors that influence the positive outcomes of the church’s educational task? Other factors to consider are the administrative structures of the local church. The pastor’s role, the organizational structures of the agencies of teaching and the administrative principles directing the church are also important factors to consider.
To maintain a strong teaching program, an intentionally directed training effort is essential. Spiritual renewal for the lay leadership, whether conferences, retreats or planned Bible studies, extend the vitality of the all.
So what is the educational task of the church, as identified in Matthew 28? We are to teach and grow up the church to be like Christ, imitators of Christ.
What can you do? Through prayer and the direction of the Holy Spirit, each one of us carries the educational task of the church. Your life is the teaching lesson-everyone is receiving from you.