In a recent blog entry Pastor Stephanie asked “Why are you Presbyterian?” This sparked the questions Why Christian Education? Or more accurately Why is Christian Education important to ones faith journey? However before we can answer this question I think we have to ask a more basic question; What is Christian Education?
In recent years the idea of Christian Education has taken on several other names which I think are helpful in our understanding of Christian Education. One name is faith formation. The name faith formation hits home that we are not just educating people about God and Christianity but rather helping individuals recognize, accept, and respond to God’s gift of grace (this concept comes from theologian Craig Dysktra). A second name is spiritual growth. I like this name because it emphasizes God presences in and around us as well as the fact that we are always learning and growing. For me Christian Education is a combination of both of these ideas.
With this in mind we can ask the question Why is Christian Education important to ones faith journey? I think the most important reason is that God wants us to continually recognize, accept and respond to the gift of grace he gives to us freely. We are continually changing and our world is continually changing so we need to rediscover how to recognize, accept and respond to God. Thus, it is our job as children of God to do so. In order to discover or rediscover and begin to understand God’s grace we have to be in relationship with God and with the community of faith. This is not to say that God only gives grace to those who know him but rather that when one knows God and is in a relationship with her it is easier to recognize, accept and respond to the grace given. One cannot be in relationship with someone that they do not know. Because God is not here in flesh and blood we have to learn about God through the Scriptures, through others encounters with God and through the world around us. In other words we have to know something about God to know God. Once we know about God we can continue the important work of exploring our relationship with God. We can together in community see where God’s grace is give and discover how we are called to respond to that grace.
Christian Education provides an opportunity for begin and grow in our relationship with God. Christian Education also helps us build relationships with those in our congregation. Christian Education provides an opportunity to learn about the ways we can respond to God grace in our lives, in our homes, in our congregation and in our community. Christian Education is important for everyone because God’s calls us to be faithful people recognizing, accepting and responding to the gift of grace in our lives! And God keeps on giving grace anew each day!