For many churches, this Sunday is the beginning of a new program year. Children and families return to church as Church School, youth group, and other formation activities start up. Some call this new beginning, “Kick Off Sunday” (after all it’s football season), or “Rally Day” (never really understood what racing had to do with it) or “Homecoming Sunday” (for those who seem to disappear during the summer).
As I prepare to lead some teacher trainings this fall, I recall the wisdom of Christian educators from our past and present.
What is the true idea of Christian education? That the child is to grow up a Christian, and never to know her/him self as being otherwise. In other words, the aim, effort and expectation should be, not as is commonly assumed, that the child is to grow up in sin, to be converted after he/she comes to a mature age; but that he/she is open on the world as one that is spiritually renewed, not remember the time when he/she went through a technical experience, but seeming rather to have loved what is good for her/his earlier years. Horace Bushnell, 19th C educator and theologian
Children will never have faith unless there is a community of faith for them to live in and be influenced by. The Rev. Dr. John Westerhoff III, Episcopal priest and educator (1976)
The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defense against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head. C. S. Lewis
If you ask almost any adult about the impact of church school on his or her growth, he or she will not tell you about books or curriculum or Bible stories or anything like that. The central memory is of the teacher, learning is meeting. Walter Brueggemman, theologian (1987)
According to Genesis, we were each created in the image and likeness of God. The ultimate goal of all Christian Formation is to assist people of all ages to realize and act on who they were created to be: the living and utterly unique images of God in this world. Vicki Garvey (2006)
I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. John Steinbeck
The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children. Dietrich Bonhoeffer