Even More Fun!

3 Fast Ideas for Christian Education Today A child turning 12 this year will be retiring in the 2060s’. Sir Ken Robinson, famed British educationist, reminded that us that we have no idea how the world will look like at that time, yet our present education system is based on a model developed in the 1900s’(!!). It’s strange that many schools still teach as if the Internet and all kinds of media have not been invented and as if globalisation hasn’t occurred i.e. as if we’re not in the 21st century. And if it’s awkward for the secular world, it should be even less acceptable for God’s kingdom. “The world has changed”, says Galadriel the Elf Queen (LOTR fans, heads up!). What about the church? What about our learning? Because it can’t be denied that learning isn’t what it used to be. Check out this chart comparing the past/present with the emerging/future: Past/Present Teacher-Led / Top-Down Teach to Test / Teacher assesses students Lecture / “I disseminate knowledge” Emerging/Future Student-Driven / All-Round Teach to Quest / Students assess each other (and the teacher!) Conversations / “We produce learning”

Institutional Authority – Encyclopedia Community Consensus – Wikipedia Britannica Subject-Centric : Language and Maths Facts and Truth Seeking the Correct Answers (Cyber)-Skill Oriented : Collaboration and Multi-Media Perspectives and Connections Asking the Right Questions

(Certainly the chart is a simplification, but – again – my point wasn’t to state facts but to suggest trends. Chill.) The good news is: God’s Word is ever-relevant and never fossilized. Our fundamental truths needn’t change. Jesus is still our Lord and Saviour. Most importantly for education, Jesus remains our Teacher through the Holy Spirit, our loving Reminder of all that Christ said (John 14:26). The tough news is: If we do not discern and adapt ourselves to the ways the world is changing education-wise, to that extent our effectiveness in connecting with the world falters. Simply put, the Word made Flesh needs to be ‘Made Fresh’, too. Are we up to the challenge?

I propose three simple, but tradition-challenging, steps for the church: 1. Start with the world and ‘work our way back’ to theology What is the world crying for? What are the key issues in our society? What domains in our community urgently need theological investigation on? How are global churches evolving? What is or isn’t working in Malaysian churches? How does the Web transform church? What are people today saying? The Bible writers wrote for specific situations. Our learning, similarly, requires that we affirm and be fully cognizant with our situation and the needs ‘for such a time as this’ (i.e. the 21st, not another, century). With a new world comes new questions. New Education Habit #1: Learn more about the world, and do so as a church. 2. Make Christian learning media-oriented and collaborative Much of Christian theology was forged in an era where the written word was supreme and where certain models of education and authority reigned. Of course, it was also a time when technology was limited. Now, the average 8-year old can do, see and hear what no ancient Pharoah or monarch could dream of. Now, the ‘castle door’ is no longer limited by space and time. Now, the world is flatter than ever and comes in more than one colour and sound. Surely we can reap its rewards for our education? Yet, why is it so difficult to get a majority of Christians sharing and constructing theological models online? Why does ‘online Bible study’ still appear bizarre? Why can’t Christians work on theological projects together, the way some universities connect students from different continents to co-analyse new business models? Why is the sermon in dramatic form still frowned upon (don’t performance arts communicate as well)? The first Reformation shook the world because people were empowered to read the Bible. The second one – already here but not yet – will empower us to reconstruct what it means to understand God (confused? Good! Log on, engage, ask, argue and share what you think!) New Education Habit #2: Employ the latest media in Christian teaching/preaching and work together to mutually construct theology for our contexts. 3. Appreciate the full spectrum of Christian perspectives

This is not something denominations are good at. We’re usually rather inward focused. We usually don’t speak much of other denominations except in (friendly) rebuke and rebuttal [grin]. And yet we are all (Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, etc.) part of God’s family, living stones put together to build the same temple of God. Aren’t we interested to see the value in what our brothers and sisters are saying? Don’t we wish to stop arguing and start joining forces? Wouldn’t it be great to minimize the knee-jerk reactions (“I can’t believe they believe that!”) and maximise the humility and all-rounded perspectives (“Our views are worlds apart – surely there is common ground between us? Surely we can learn from each other?”). New Education Habit #3: Learn to appreciate the finer points and kingdomoriented elements in other denominations. Enrich our theology to encompass the best of as many denominational worlds as possible. Always remember: Learning is fun. Learning about God? Even more fun.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, What God has prepared for those who love Him” Isaiah 64:4

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