“Teaching [and learning] does not belong to the
that is tothe well-being of the church, but to the
the very essence of it. If the church is the church, it is a teaching community… If the churchdoes not teach, it is not the church. Teaching is therefore not an armof the church, not an auxiliary function, not a secondary aspect of itslife, but it is the church in action… the church has no option about itsteaching ministry. It cannot choose whether or not it wishes to teach.It teaches by the very virtue of its existence.
”In other words, the programs are here not for the sake of the programs, nor forthe professors, nor for anyone in society that they might feel good abouthaving such programs. They are here for the sake of God’s people, both thosewho are in the church and need to be trained and equipped for a life of discipleship, as well as those who are outside of the church and need to bereached with the message of God’s kingdom, the merciful rule of the Creatorthrough Jesus, His Son, in the power of their Spirit. The purpose of Christianeducation, then, is the mission of God conducted through the mission of theChurch here on earth. God has been incurably “mission minded” throughoutthe history of humanity with all people. The Bible even suggests that He hasbeen postponing His second coming so that more people might be reached (2Pt3:9).With this basic principle in mind, all that is being done in and through Christianeducation, ought to be done in the light of God’s purpose for His Church. AllChristian educators in the church must have on their heart that which God hason His, reaching out to those, who are lost. The nature of Christian education isthus derived from and influenced by the way we understand its purpose.
Knowing the “purpose” helps define the meaning of “mission”and of “Christian education”
Having said this, I believe, has made it clear that in this paper we understandthe term “
“ as both: 1) the effort to renew and revitalize the life of Christian churches (the concept of “inner mission”); and 2) the effort to reachout to people, living outside of the church – in accordance with God’s missionpurpose for the church as we find it in Mt 28:18-20.Similarly, the term “
” needs to be understood in its widermeaning – as the conveying of knowledge, competences and habits both: 1) inthe areas of church’s life and theology; as well as 2) in the area of social andcultural interactions. Theological content must remain socially and culturallyrelevant!
Careful listening as the first act of love: the need for a socio-culturalanalysis
One of the main pillars of a mission-minded Christian education thus is thefollowing principle: “The first
act of love is a careful listening.”
We considerit vitally important for Christians to know the culture, in which they ought to be“the salt” and “the light.” They have to know the struggles, the joys and thepains of the nation, in which they live and serve. Mission endeavors, including
Gospel, Church, Mission
. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1977, p. 84. KentKnutson was a systematic theologian and a former president of the American Lutheran Church.