This last Saturday I was with a group from Salem Presbytery exploring what it means to be The Hopeful Church. We looked at the current state of Christian education in mainline churches, particularly the PC(USA). We talked about how difficult it is to change the model of Sunday School with which many of us have grown up.
Then we tried an activity to break us out of our preconceived notions of what Christian Education is about. I called it WWJT, which could be translated “What Would Jesus Teach?” or “Where Would Jesus Teach?” The group was divided into groups of 4 or 5. Each group was given a different passage that describes Jesus’ teaching from one of the four gospels. (The passages I used can be found in a file at the end of this post.) The groups were asked to consider the following three questions:
- What is the goal of Jesus’ teaching?
- What role does Jesus play as teacher?
- Where could this type of teaching take place?
As each group reported, we heard the many goals and roles of Jesus’ teaching, from telling the story of God’s Kingdom through the parables to speaking prophetic truth to the powers of the day. The settings we could envision teaching and learning taking place were inside and outside of the church walls, but not necessarily in a classroom. Jesus, as Master Teacher, once again helped us to see educational ministry in new ways.
Kathy Dawson, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Columbia Theological Seminary
Featured Image is by Enrique Simonet from 1892