Basic Principles of Christian Education
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In the last article, we discussed the need for more Christian education. Colleges are far away and expensive. They are not always theologically sound. While I am not against the concept of Bible colleges, the local church is the best place for the average person to experience higher learning. How do we approach this?
At first, the task of establishing Christian education in the local church may seem intimidating. The first key is to START SOMEWHERE. In this article, we will review some ideas to help you jump start this process.
One of the first principles of Christian Education is macro learning. This method helps us understand the ‘big picture’ view on a subject. A great way to utilize this principle is by reviewing all the Bible verses on a specific subject.
A great place to start is to study the Sabbath all the way through the Scriptures. There are over 140 verses that mention the Sabbath or some aspect of it. Going through every verse allows your congregation to see the big picture of the Sabbath and its consistent mention across the Bible. These allow one to see Biblical patterns pertaining to the Sabbath.
As part of a comprehensive study on a subject such as the Sabbath you could always go faster or slower through certain places where the Sabbath is mentioned.
A second principle to apply is micro learning. Micro learning is focusing in on a specific aspect of what you are studying. So in the case of the Sabbath, you could take a specific passage where the Sabbath is mentioned and go over every word of those verses. This allows you to point out detailed characteristics of the Sabbath.
You could even incorporate both. A pastor could have a sermon series covering the macro view of the Sabbath. During Bible study time, a teacher could cover specific passages about the Sabbath in depth.
The macro and micro methods of learning actually go hand in hand. Based on our current understanding of the human brain, these methods will reinforce the memorization and comprehension of the subject matter. You can apply these principles with any subject – I just mentioned the Sabbath as a starting place.
As part of the micro type of study, the teacher could always use a concordance. The concordance lists the appropriate Hebrew or Greek word associated with each English word we read. A Strong’s Concordance is a good one to start using. You can usually find this kind of resource online for free!
As I said before, the key is to just start somewhere. The Sabbath is a great beginning point. As time goes on, you could choose other subjects such as a study of the other Ten Commandments throughout Scripture and expand the study to other doctrines. Once you start this process, God will lead you down the rest of the path.
Systematic studies conducted in this manner will teach each congregation member a process of learning that will last a lifetime. It gives them the recipe for learning rather than just the cooked meal.
Always remember that the entire Word of God matters – every word of it. This is true whether we understand it fully or not. We can always seek to understand it. Christ taught us to seek, ask and knock (Matthew 7:7-8). The things we think are harder – such as prophecy – really are some of the most important things that help us view the Bible as a complete whole. Starting with basics will make other subjects easier to understand.
You can always check with other ministries to see if they have resources that will help you in specific areas (Bible Sabbath Association [www.biblesabbath.org], the Church of God International (https://www.cgi.org/), and Christian Education Ministries [https://www.borntowin.net] are great places to start). Additionally, there may be speakers you can invite from other churches from time to time to help teach a certain subject. Connecting to other congregations will help your church.
As a pastor or other church leader, it is up to you to set the pace and the agenda. The onus is on the individual to decide how much they want to learn and how much they want to grow.
Look for more resources on this subject in the future!
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org