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Education for the 21st Century

Case Study
Submitted to

Ann E. Streaty Wimberly, Ph.D

Michael T. McQueen, D. Min.


Alcenir R. de Oliveira;
S. Alexander Minor, I
Allen Page, III
Carl E. Patten, II
CAM 801 - Foundations of Christian Education
Interdenominational Theological Center
Atlanta, Georgia
April, 15, 2004
S. Alexander Minor, I
Christian Education can be seen as a way to grow and mature in one’s faith journey. It
serves as a main stream of the church’s ministries that involve form and transformation. “It is
not just a matter of education; there must be an emphasis on nurture. Christian Education is
more than learning Bible stories, doctrine, and all else that contributes to one’s faith heritage.
Christian Education involves people of mature faith nurturing others who are growing in
faith.”1 Group # 8’s assignment was to provide relevant documentation/data from our
research conducted on eight churches. Research results and chart analysis have been included
to constructively show diversity in the churches’ structure. Our effort throughout this paper
will be, “to raise awareness about the issues a church needs to address when it is making
decisions regarding what it will teach.”2
All of the eight churches visited, Holsey Chapel CME Church, Whites Chapel CME
Church, Whatcoat United Methodist Church, Vision of Hope Church, Presbyterian
Church/USA (Spain), Presbyterian Church/USA (Portugal), Cathedral of Faith Church of
God In Christ, and Zion Hill Baptist Church are engaged in Christian education activities.
Rev. Allen Page, III of Holsey Chapel CME Church, and Rev. Oscar Hall of Whites Chapel
CME Church revealed that the Christian education (CE) activities have contributed to the
success of their respective Churches. These two community churches, Urban and Rural in
location, respectively, have similar educational goals due to their denominational ties.
Whatcoat United Methodist (151 Years old) has Rev. Alice J. Ervin as Senior Pastor.
It is a large Urban Church with a strong CE program. Both the Pastor and Director of CE
have strived tirelessly to keep the flames of Christian Education burning. Their formal
training is a blessing for WUMC. Vision of Hope Church, located in a Suburban community,
is 9 years old with approx. 3,000 members. The Director of Christian Discipleship, under the
supervision of Rev. Francis Allison, Assistant Pastor effectively utilizes his CE/Church Music
degrees to make the educational program viable. Both Presbyterian Churches (PCUSA/Spain
and PCUSA/Portugal) are small churches with 42 and 96 members respectively. The Pastors,
Oseias and Cleonor Tenorio and others volunteered members teach the CE classes.
At Cathedral of Faith Church of God in Christ, Elder Kenneth Johnson was quick to
inform us that the Associate Ministers along with the Coordinator and Departmental Heads
Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, The Teaching Church: Moving Christian Education to Center Stage,
(Nashville: Abingdon Press. 1993), 11.
Karen B. Tye, Basic of Christian Education: (St. Louis: Chalice Press. 2000), 65.
lead the CE activities. Interestingly, the CE program focuses on the church’s Mission
Statement: Everyone is important. This is a large Urban Church with over 1,000 members
and a vibrant CE program. We were pleased to meet Melissa Woodforlk, head of Zion Hill
Baptist Church. With over 30 ministries and auxiliaries, the Ministers, Deacons,
Deaconesses, and Laypersons lead the CE activities.
Four aspects that could serve as valuables, and/or help map our Christian Education -
transformation, faith community, spiritual growth, and religious instructions. Accordingly,
“these four themes can help leaders direct their congregation into a fuller developed Christian
Assessment of Christian Education Ministry
Allen Page, III
The purpose of this section will be to assess the data collected during our study of the
eight churches. The information to support our conclusions is represented in two appendices
of this paper: Appendix I – outlines the actual responses from the interviews performed;
while Appendix II – provides a statistical analysis, with supporting charts, of the information
provided. Our discussion will follow the outline of the questions explored with each church’s
leadership. We will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of information obtained, and
finally offer three suggestions for immediate improvement regarding the Christian education
What are the Christian Education activities? Our study asked the church leaders to share
with us the various activities included in the Christian education program. We discovered
that Christian education programs were very supportive of traditional disciplines.
Strengths - 100 percent of our churches educational structure included Sunday
morning church school, with class offerings for various age groups. 75 percent
included weekly Bible Study and prayer meeting as another pillar of their program.
63 percent offered new membership or discipleship training; while 38 percent
provided leadership training and workshops. The remainder of our investigations
discovered that Vacation Bible School, home-study group, and annual health fair
were held at 25 percent of our churches. Only 13 percent of our churches included a
nontraditional form of education, such as liturgical dance.

Jack L. Seymour, Mapping Christian Education: Approaches to Congregational Learning, (Nashville:
Abingdon Press, 1997) pp. 19-22
Weaknesses – As stated earlier the programs included in the churches’ Christian
education process were very traditional. Outside of the 13 percent of our churches
that offered liturgical dance ministries; we found that the other 87 percent primarily
focused upon fundamental Christian education. While these staple offerings provide
an opportunity for the congregant to grow their faith; we found that the offerings
could include more innovation and creativity that would address the existential needs
of the people.
Who leads the activities? Based upon the results of our study we represented the findings in
the form the components of leadership that are involved in Christian education training.
Strengths – We found that in 100 percent of our churches the pastor was involved in
the Christian education process. This involvement almost always included the pastor
leading a committee who sets the vision, design and coordinates implementation of
the program. 50 percent of our churches were fortunate enough to assign the task of
Christian education to other ministers; while 75 percents of our churches involved
department heads in the process.
Weaknesses – While it appears that all of the churches involved the necessary adult
components in the vision, design, coordination/implementation, and assessment
phases of Christian education; we found that none mentioned involvement of youth in
these elements. This can possibly be attributed to the traditional approach to
Christian education that has already been cited; youth tend to be excluded from
planning and the entire process is entrusted to the “all knowing adult.”
How are leaders prepared to lead Christian education activities? Our study indicated
that the traditional ethos of Christian education was alive and well in this component also.
Strengths – We found that in 63 percent of our churches the pastor trained leaders
within the Christian education process. We also discovered that workshops were
given in 63 percent of the churches to supplement training by the pastor; however
these workshops were generally conducted by the Christian education director or
coordinator. 25 percent of our churches indicated that their Christian educators
engaged in self study as a method of preparation.
Weaknesses – We feel that the process in these churches could be strengthened by
involvement instructors with expertise who exist outside of the individual
congregations. This could possibly increase the experiential learning through more
freedom of engagement with the instructor, without the infringement of the
pastor/congregant relationship dynamic.
What is the pastor’s role in Christian education? Our research found that the pastor was
involved in all phases of the Christian education process.
Strengths – We found that in 88 percent of our churches the pastor set the vision,
coordinated, and supervised the Christian education program. The pastor met with
the Christian education director/coordinator periodically for assessment and
evaluation in 25 percent of the population. The pastor’s role extended to teaching in
various areas in 63 percent of our churches.
Weaknesses – While we were pleased to see that pastor’s were involved in setting the
vision for Christian education in 88 percent of the churches it is our belief that the
pastor should be involved in 100 percent. Moreover 75 percent of our churches were
not meeting periodically to discuss the Christian education program. This is a key
weakness which really needs to be addressed.
Is there a Christian education committee, director or board to facilitate Christian
education? Our research discovered that only 63 percent of our churches had a committees,
director or board to facilitate Christian education. In the 37 percent of those that do not have
a committee, director or board we found that the Christian education programs were not
robust and therefore left to the minimal offerings to the membership. One obvious reason for
develop of supporting components in the 37 percent of the churches would be to get the
congregants involved in their own empowerment, which could aide the general church
growth and development.
What kinds of materials are used in Christian education? Once again our research found
that the material used in Christian education training is rather traditional and fundamental.
Strengths – 63 percent of our churches utilized material from within denomination
publishing houses, where curriculums for various programs have been pre-established
for programs within congregations. However, the other 25 to 27 percent of the
churches in our population established their own curriculum, through the Christian
education committee, and selected material from external publishing houses. In all
cases the material used in Christian education remained basic – books, compact disc,
and digital video disc.
Weaknesses – Once again the material used is rather traditional in its makeup. It
does not offer an innovative and creative learning tool for the congregant. We would
suggest some nontraditional material such as travel seminars, mission projects,
religious dramas and skits to name a few.
What is the role of the Music Director? We found that in 50 percent of our churches the
music director coordinated the music to supplement the worship experience in consultation
with the pastor. 25 percent of churches had no music director, 25 percent had no involvement
of the music director in the Christian education process.
Strengths – The involvement of the music director in supporting the worship is a
great start. This involvement offers the congregant a full and coordinated worship
experience. While the center of worship attention is on the preached word; those
members who hearts are attuned to music will appreciate the supplemental music that
helps to provide one message throughout worship activities.
Weaknesses – We found that in those churches where there is no music director it
was due to resource limitations. However, there is an inherent weakness in offering
the congregant music in worship that does not support the overall message of the day.
We also believe that the support of music director could be extended to training
within the Christian education program regarding the importance of music in
worship, and the scriptural relevance of hymns and spirituals. Additionally the music
director could incorporate the use of psalms from scripture into the worship
experience as an additional Christian education offering within the congregation.
Suggestions for immediate improvement
We discovered that many of the offerings within the Christian education programs
were rather traditional in their makeup and offering. We would encourage more innovation
and creativeness in the Christian education programs. This could be accomplished through
the involvement of religious dramas or skits sponsored by congregant production or through
attendance at other venues; travel seminars could be held exposing the congregations to
social issues within the community; support groups could be established for persons with
special needs; facilitators with expertise outside of the congregation could be brought in to
address congregants from periodically.
We also discovered that more than 70 percent of our churches were not meeting to
discuss the Christian education process. We encourage an immediate change in this area in
order to facilitate more dialogue among the people who are affected. Eugene C.
Koehlkepartain stated in his book The Teaching Church: Moving Christian Education to
Center Stage, that “due to Christian education’s impact on faith maturity, all church leaders
need to pay attention to its dynamics and needs.”4
Finally we discovered that only 63 percent of our churches had a mission statement.
We recommend that mission statements be established in the remaining 37 percent of the
churches. We further recommend that the Christian education activities be thoroughly
reviewed to ensure that they support the mission of the church. Our findings did not support
this assertion.

Roles of Pastoral and Church Leaders

Carl E. Patten, II
There seems to be somewhat of a disparity in how pastors view what their role should
be in Christian Education. Some pastor’s believe that the role of the pastor is to supervise the
religious education program. In this instance, pastor’s serve as managers; thus, knowing fully
the development of the church education programs with a more hands-off approach. Some
pastors will further magnify their role in religious education to also set the vision, teach,
advocating for funds, assessing the church needs, or equipping the Christian Education
Department with the materials necessary for programs to continue from year-to-year. All of
these ideas for a pastor’s role are fine; however, it is rare that any pastor sees themselves as
serving in all the capacities mentioned above.
The results of the study show that whenever a pastor served in only a supervisory
position, then the leadership of the activities was left up to the Christian Education
coordinator or director. These results vary more when the pastor takes on more
responsibilities for the religious education. For instance, if the pastor is setting the vision then
leadership training seems to more emphasized and structured. The training is then either done
by the pastor or held more frequently throughout the physical year. The visionary approach of
the pastor is developing laity leadership training programs for the church. In addition to
supervisor some pastors consider themselves to be coordinators. In these instances, the pastor
takes on almost the full responsibility of the total development of the Christian Education
program; however, based upon the size of the congregation the pastor would be wise to

Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, The Teaching Church: Moving Christian Education To Center Stage,
(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), p. 109.
choose and individual to serve as coordinator. The pastor serves as one of the leaders and as
the primary trainer of future leaders. This seems to be more prevalent in the smaller churches
from the study. While there are many different views of what the pastors’ believe their
responsibilities should be, there should be a set standard what the pastors’ role should be.
The pastor should be able to accomplish all the roles that are mentioned above within
one church setting. The pastor should establish the vision, select the materials for curriculum,
and ensure that the leaders and laity are properly trained. The pastor can do this from a
supervisory position, but as more of an Integrated Supervisor. In being an Integrated
Supervisor, the pastor can be seen in every aspect of the Christian Education program from
the pulpit on Sunday to Bible study during the week. The pastor should ensure that the
religious education program has direction while also helping to train laity and leaders to
follow in that direction. If the pastor established the vision of the program, then he/she is
best-fit for ensuring that the vision is being implemented.
The role of the Christian Education director should be to take the pastor’s vision,
training, and resources, and implement and coordinate religious education at the church. The
director should have an understanding of what the pastor’s vision is and set objectives for
how to meet aspects of that vision over the next couple of years. The pastor’s vision would
generally be broad, so that the CE director can focus on aspects of the vision. The CE director
is trained by the pastor on how to objectify the vision and given resources to implement the
objectives are developed. The CE director works hand-in-hand with the pastor to coordinate
these programs that serve as leadership training for laity. It is for this reason that the pastor
can serve dually as the CE director or on the CE committee. It is also the job of the CE
director to have a staff that can also implement these objectives after having a thorough
understanding of the vision through the pastor’s training. The CE director focuses on the
development of laity with the assistance of the leadership and resources supplied by the
The results of the study also show that the Music Director coordinates music that is
instructive and aligned with the pastor’s vision. The Music director should be responsible for
ensuring that those involved in the Music Department are aware of the vision that has been
set and how it will be implemented through music. The Music Director should coordinate
worship services with the pastor on a continuous basis to ensure that the objectives of the
vision are met in worship.
The pastor and music director ensure that the vision of the church is being met during
worship, while the pastor and CE director ensure that the vision is being met in other
auxiliaries. It is in these venues that the pastor as the overall visionary can ensure that the
church continues to head in the direction that aligns with the will of God for that particular

A New Vision for Christian Education for the 21st Century

Alcenir R. de Oliveira
The new geopolitics of flexible boundaries, the effectiveness of transportation and
information has propelled the movement of the world’s population to a level never achieved.
The configuration of the population of the United States of America (USA) has changed, and
the process for change is faster than ever. The 2000 census revealed that there are 35.3
million Hispanics in the USA. The Latinos became the largest minority, surpassing African
Americans5. Ramos says that “the United States is undergoing a Latinization, and there is no
turning back. It is an overwhelming, definitive, and irreversible phenomenon that is changing
the face of America, to the dismay of many”6. We are considering here just the Latinos. What
about population of other origin?
All these facts beg the question of, how is the church dealing with this situation?
How aware are religious leaders of the need to find a proper way to offer services to
evangelize and carry out the church’s mission in this new demographic environment? In the
beginning of last century USA educators were dealing with a diversity that resulted from the
immigration from the previous century, besides the descents from African and Natives. By
1909, the Historian Cubberly set forth a doctrine in an effort to make these new peoples
assimilate the Anglo-Saxon culture7. Whether it worked is not our purpose for introducing
these facts, but rather to show that one century ago a similar situation of today’s challenges
was catching the attention of educators. Where is the church; and what is she doing? What
are Christian educators doing to deal with this new configuration of the society? What is the
role of the Church as a non-profit institution? The body of Christ in the world, should be

Jorge Ramos, The Other Face of America: Chronicles of the Immigrants Shaping Our Future, (New
York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002).xvii.
Ibid, .xvii.
Barbara Wilkerson, Multicultural Religious Education, (Birmingham: Religious Education Press, 1997),
responsible for enterprise of human rescue, support and change, it should be that institution
that paves the way for Christian education to become reality!
When talking about the product of non-profit organization Drucker defines this
product as “neither a pair of shoes nor an effective regulation. Its product is a changed human
being. The non-profit institutions are human-changed agents. Its product is cured patient, a
child that learns, a young man or woman grown into a self-respecting adult; a changed human
life altogether”8. This is the Photograph of the church, of what Christian educators should
produce. It is necessary to mention that the Church has to consider in its outreach strategies
the cultural diversity or multiculturalism of a multiethnic society, because this is the trend and
the new configuration. And, based on the principles mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is
worth to keep in mind that “since multicultural education is a broad concept, it requires
reform of the total educational environment. … A church should look at its broad policies, its
communal life and values (stated and implicit), its teaching styles and material, and all other
aspects of the religious education environment”9.
Some myths involving Christian education have to be questioned and reviewed, and
the church must re-equip itself to make an adequate contribution to the new era. Concepts
like “Christian education is for children, that a good program of Christian education is a big
program, that good teaching means transfer of information, that Christian education doesn’t
need training and that it is separate from the rest of congregational life”10 have to be replaced.
Christian education is not only an efficient process within a big program to promote the
transfer of information. It was proved that the simple church that carried small and simple
programs were as effective as the big ones. What has to be brought to the discussion is the
purpose of Christian education, that is, the transfer of knowledge that transforms life and
empowers people to reflect that transformation in the society, so that the church can go to the
ends of the earth preaching the Gospel of Jesus. Such transformation is not something that
comes by human acts, by simple teaching Christian doctrines and dogmas, but “such
transformation is a gift from God, not an act of human will. In the words of Ephesians 2:8 –
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift
of God”11.
Peter F. Drucker, Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices, (New York: Harper
Business, 1990), .xiv.
Wilkerson, 28.
Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, The Teaching Church: Moving Christian Education to Center Stage,
(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), pp. 29-33.
Ibid, .35.
If any change is to be made to align with the contextual trends, the first is to empower
the Christian educators to teach a knowledge that transforms life. Karen B. Tye says that
“our purpose should be engagement in the kind of serious, creative, and intentional reflection,
analysis, assessment, and planning that will enable us to renew and transform our
understanding and practice of Christian education.” 12 In conclusion, we would like to say
with Dr. Temba L. J. Mafico that “The quest in our communities is also for deep responses to
wonderment about the activity of God in the midst of life’s realities … Where may wisdom
be found to address the challenges of our day? How may we act wisely along the journey of
life we are set upon? What do we say to our young to inspire their wisdom formation?13

Drucker, Peter F. Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practice. New
York: Harper Business, 1990.
Ramos, Jorge. The Other Face of America: Chronicles of the Immigrants Shaping Our
Future. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.
Roehlkepartain, Eugene C. The Teaching Church: Moving Christian Education to
Center Stage. Nashville: Abingdon Press. 1993.
Seymour, Jack L. Mapping Christian Education: Approaches to Congregational
Learning. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997.
Tye, Karen B. Basic of Christian Education. St. Louis: Chalice Press. 2000.
Wilkerson,. Barbara. Multicultural Religious Education. Birmingham: Religious
Education Press, 1997.
Wimberly, Anne E. Streaty & Evelyn L. Parker. In Search of Wisdom: Faith Formation
in the Black Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003.

Karen B. Tye, Basics of Christian Education,. (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2000), 4.
Anne E. Streaty Wimberly, & Evelyn L. Parker, In Search of Wisdom: Faith Formation in the Black
Church, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), 23.