One Good Idea in Adult Education

During this time of experimentation and innovation in church ministry, as churches move out of their buildings and into homes and virtual spaces, there is one consistent thing I hear from many educators. “There are so many great ideas out there that I’m feeling overwhelmed right now and can’t do it all!” As we continue to face this pandemic together, I would encourage and challenge your church to pick one new idea and do it well. In this post I will focus on adult education and will detail the one good idea that Oakhurst Presbyterian Church has been doing during Lent. At the end there will be an attachment with more good ideas for adult education that may spark your own one good idea.

Oakhurst Presbyterian Church is around a 300-member church in Decatur, Georgia. As a multicultural congregation, it has an ongoing mission to be at the forefront of intercultural and racial justice work. Charles Copp, of the RED (Racial, Ethnic, Diversity) team at the church had experienced, in the school where he teaches, a Racial Equity 21-day challenge to address unconscious bias and other forms of racial discrimination. This online curriculum consists of a series of short videos curated from various sources like TED Talks, CNN, and the New York Times. The intent was that during Lent adults would sign up to take this challenge to “give up cultural bias for Lent.” We would keep journals (see below for template) as we watched the films daily and then gather on Sunday mornings to reflect on our responses in light of our faith as Christians. With the pandemic making these face-to-face gatherings impossible, the Sunday class was moved onto Zoom and participants either joined by computer or phone to reflect in small breakout groups on their journals. Adults participating spanned the age range from those with young children to senior adults in their seventies and eighties. The conversations we have had were rich and honest, perhaps even more vulnerable than we would have had in a face-to-face gathering. Some participants paired up and talked by phone during the week as they were working through the videos, while others worked on their own and shared during the Sunday morning sessions where everyone gathered. This curriculum migrated well to an online format and would be something that other churches could certainly pursue during the season after Easter and leading to Pentecost, as we celebrate God’s ability to break barriers of all sorts to bring about new life.

Like Mary (Luke 10:38-42) who chose the one good thing of sitting at the feet of Jesus to listen and learn, I would invite your church to consider the one good thing that you will do for the adults in your congregation during this season of physical isolation and new ways of connecting. As I mentioned at the start there are ideas below to get you started. Share with us on the Facebook group or here in the comments the one good thing that you will do in this season.

Racial Equity 21 Day Challenge Journal

Dawson Adult Resources

Kathy L. Dawson, Columbia Theological Seminary, Hope4CE Steering Committee Member

TheoEd Talks

Several years ago, our church began wondering how to advance church-based theological education. While the church continued its traditional Sunday school and adult bible study programs, we also perceived that the culture around us was changing. Our members (and potential members!) interacted with sophisticated, on-demand technology every day in their offices and homes. Those in our community listened to podcasts as they commuted and streamed YouTube videos in the evening.  How could we better leverage technology in our Christian Education programs? Could we think more creatively about how to deliver our programming to an increasingly busy and technologically-savvy congregation?

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The One Year Seminary

This is certainly one approach to adult education. I wonder how you structure your faith formation for adults. KLD

Columbia Connections

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Every once is a while (like last month, in fact) I get a call from a church leader wanting ideas about creating a mini-seminary in their congregations. While that idea is driven by a sincere desire to make Christian education more meaningful and effective in their congregations, I remain suspect of that approach. I believe that any congregation will be well-served by taking Christian education more seriously and, by going about its practice in more intentional ways. But I also believe that a seminary is one thing and a church another—and when it comes to educating in faith, the two should not be confused.

However, I appreciate the well-intentioned efforts of those who want a more rigorous “school of faith” in their congregations.

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What’s a Salon?

I thought a salon was a place one went to have their hair “done” or to get a pedicure. Only recently did I learn that salon originally referred to an important place for the exchange of ideas. According to wikipedia.org, a salon, commonly associated with the French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries, is a gathering of people in someone’s home for the purpose of education and enjoyment. Salon is thus the perfect name for adult conversational gatherings in private homes.

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