Feb 05, 2007 On Personality and Developmental Theory

Are age appropriate ministries valid? How do these copmpare with a "Family church" model? ..A personal perspective

To answer the question as specified, I believe developmental theory has much that should inform the curriculum of the seminary, Bible college, Christian liberal art college or Christian graduate school in the training of ministry leaders. That is specifically where it can do the most reasonable good. I also see the value of developmentally graded classes for education in the local church (up to adulthood) if balanced with a diversity of activities and ministry opportunities that would allow families to minister together in an age agnostic environment.

I think there must be a place for diverse demographics to operate in unity within their diversity in ministry and worship situations. This is part of the beauty of the Body of Christ. When we take developmental theory and age specific limitations onto other areas of church ministry, problems attain. The problems can be just as complicated by a "family based" model, which tends to be what one thinks of in contrast to the age specific model.

These pendulum swing approaches is where I will focus for this post, as that is the track many of the posts have taken. I understand that this diverges a bit from the question at hand. I feel compelled to share some personal, anecdotal information that shapes my views on this matter. I’ve seen different models of ministry come and go in my 40 years as a Christian. The current debates over age appropriate ministry remind me of the discussions of a lot of the other models. We always have to be sure we are asking the right questions.

First I would differentiate between the educational commission of the church (go, teach, baptize, disciple) and its responsibility for other ministries. In the rest of the world, developmental theory has been leveraged as an effective guide to building the curriculum. Its strength has also been its weakness at times when it comes to maximizing unity in diversity. It is at this point that developmental theory has not been shown as an effective guide to build families or the church or the kingdom. I see the value of age appropriate ministry to be necessarily tied with a balanced focus on Christ as sovereign over all. On to Family based models in the next post...

February 5, 2007- Family based church models might work when the local church is made up only of families. I get concerned over some of the "Family Church" models as I really see no evidence for it as the summum bonum in the Scriptures and wonder whether many of the diverse people of the New Testament narrative would actually fit into such a model.

I am compelled to ask, "How would the apostle Paul, the woman at the well of Sychar, the Ethiopian eunuch, lepers, the many outcasts and weak sinners that did not fit into the religious structures of their day operate in the typical family model that is being advanced in many churches today?" We are reaching a broken world with broken families and the idea that Christ came to bring a sword to separate brother from brother still attains. There are so many who are coming into the church who are stigmatized by some of these models. I won't say all of them are created equal.

My wife and I have been victims of this as well, being a couple whose ministries over the early years was to outcasts and people who do not look or smell like the status quo church member. When we found that we could not have children, we were stigmatized by the "Family Church" we were in as not having God’s favor, because the logic ran that children are a gift of God, and therefore that must be an indicator of some deeper spiritual problem if you could not have them. When she was a child, Earnie was one of the little children that neighbors took to church; she never had a family who was in the church with her. She would not fit into some family based models. I left the church my parents attended at age 15 and life was never again the same- it was the beginning of a great ride.

We were once part of a cohesive Sunday School class that was broken up by fiat into age and lifestyle specific categories. We were actually called by the pastor’s wife "the leftovers" as they did not know what to do with us; we did not fit into convenient categories. Some of the other "leftovers" left that church over this ripping apart of the community we had established over time; this was done by the indiscriminate abuse of a model. Models can be applied in a spiritually discerning manner or in a stupid way. I suppose the motivation of the model builder is what makes all the difference. Families are important and are the basis for civilization and key to fulfilling the cultural mandate and possibly even the Old Covenant. I do not see that the New Covenant is so constructed as to maintain that the family is the basic building block of the Church, rather (1 Peter 2:5) you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Luke 8:21: "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it."

Feb 07, 2007 the End of a Long Dry Spell...

Mighty Hand

God laid His mighty Hand
Upon my wounds and pain
And tears, what bitter tears, fell down,
Like bursts of sudden rain!
Then, with the gentle healing Hand,
He wiped away their stain
O for another touch of God!
Give me my tears again!

Oh mighty hand touch now our wounded hearts
Oh mighty hand apply your healing arts
Until we are made whole
You calm the sin sick soul
With your mighty hand you calmed the restless sea
Your mighty hand can take control of me.

Lord with your mighty hand
You applied the potter's dream
According to your plan
You realized your sacred scheme
And by your hand this world's design
Reveals the heart in songs and signs
Your mighty hand can work your will
And you are working even still.

Anthony Foster

Based on an anonymous poem
February 7, 2007

10:00pm Feb 8, 2007 EST - Andragogy- Leading Adults to Learn

When I think of andragogy the first name that comes to mind is , of course, Malcolm Knowles. Andragogy is defined as fostering adult learning. This is differentiated from pedagogy, which focuses on the teaching of children.

Some would say that pedagogies pertain to developmental issues and andragogy is related to motivation of fully developed humans, but I think it is more of a conceptual issue of agency in the learner. The concepts of readiness, experience, motivation, orientation to learning are quantifiably different in adults and children, and these differences have much to do with the ability of the learner to think on higher cognitive and agentic levels.

We move from dependence to self-direction, and as we gain experience we need to use that experience as we learn. Our social role helps define our readiness to learn. We become situated in the now rather than focusing so much on the future, making us more problem centered. Knowles later added the notion that external reward systems hold less sway on us motivationally as we age. Andragogy's principle focus on the learner has played a great role in the paradigm shift from teacher oriented to learner oriented higher education in the past twenty years.

Other names I associate with andragogy would be Brookfield and Mezirow. In Christian circles, the name I most readily associate with andragogy is Kenn Gangel, mostly due to my exposure to his thought while I sojourned in Dallas Bible churches. (I have often wondered whether the one time DTS requirement for admission was that one must be 30 years of age was linked to andragogical issues. I don't think that requirement persists today, but I could be wrong.) I would also associate InterVarsity with andragogy from a Christian perspective.

Personality and Developmental Theory 08:58pm Feb 8, 2007 EST -

I'll try to say this clearly and succinctly from the overflow of my thoughts. I think about this quite a bit. The curriculum is the embodiment of a program of learning and includes experience, philosophy, content, approach and assessment with an end learning objective in mind. I would hold that a well-developed curriculum based on what we know about how people learn is the starting place for Christian education. We know much about developmental change that children go through as they mature. We also have learned in recent years much about how adults differ in the ways they learn. Spirit led pedagogies and androgogies are empowering paradigms that the Church would do well not to ignore.

Stages of development should be seen as much as common spiritual sense as they are seen as documented truths and principles that find support in the Scriptures. Needs and patterns of thinking and responses must be taken into account in age appropriate ways in the educational curriculum. This is the commission we are given- to teach all sorts of people (at all sorts of developmental levels) to observe whatsoever things Christ has commanded us to do.

We must be able to understand in a deep way the developmental needs of the audience we teach. But teachers should have a dependable source of curricular materials that take these needs into account. God give us sanctified instructional designers! The Christian instructional designer or curriculum expert can minister to a vast audience through the teachers he/she will empower by Spirit led and wisdom driven design of such materials. Suddenly the teacher has at their disposal methodologies that will help the teacher engage and challenge their students.

These materials need to fit into a curricular plan at the local church level. I am a proponent of educational experts hired by associations to help with this in small churches that cannot afford a Christian education minister. This includes teacher training, I would propose. Teachers must have the freedom to be creative and Spirit led- the curriculum must not become a straightjacket, but at the same time the local church needs resources such as these that empower teachers.

08:10pm Feb 8, 2007 EST -What Role does the Holy Spirit Play In Our Teaching?

I owe much of what I say here to Gordon Fee and his treatment of this topic in God's Empowering Presence. I see the basis for the Holy Spirit's impact on teaching in this way: The Holy Spirit is first and foremost a Person. He is also God's Personal Presence indwelling the believer. He is also God's empowering Presence. This is manifested individually and in the corporate community.

From 1 Timothy 1:14 Paul reminds Timothy of the Spirit initiated and Spirit directed "call" to ministry. The context is set in verse 7: the charge is to "combat profane myths of false teachers…which come from deceiving spirits" (vv1-2). Our teaching must be like Timothy's- we must tell the truth, combating lies. Spirit empowered teaching , then , I would posit, is a form of spiritual warfare and must be bold and courageous. Furthermore the recognition of Timothy (and his teaching) in the community is itself empowered by the Spirit. When the Spirit is evidenced and experienced in reality by the Church, then the Spirit led teacher will be recognized in their midst.

In 1 Thessalonians we learn that the Spirit can be quenched. Conversely, in 2 Timothy 1:6-14, Paul appeals to Timothy to "fan into flame" the gift that resides in him. Fee argues cogently that the gift in question is the Spirit himself, not the gift of ministry. This flame is to be like unto the fire in Jeremiah's bones. Timothy is to devote himself to teaching- he is to guard his loyalty to the Gospel by means of the indwelling Spirit of God. In verse 7 God gives the Spirit for power, not cowardice or timidity. The ground for the appeal that was given is the Spirit Himself. We teach with authority.

We are empowered for suffering. The Spirit is given by God to be the source of ministry.. We have power, love and a sound mind. Our teaching flows from the Person, Presence, and Power of the Spirit and is evidenced by love and a sound mind (or self-control.) If we teach without love, we are not teaching in the power of the Spirit. As the Holy Spirit leads us into all the Truth, we should see a progressive deepening of our focus on Christ in our teaching. Teaching should flow from the winds of delight in Christ that the Spirit blows through our lives. It is the Spirit that keeps our teaching fresh and new like the dew each morning.

Here is a take on the movie October Sky that is very informative by one of our cohort members:

Great Achievements do not reconcile great problems. “October Sky” led us to believe that the relationship between Homer and his dad was repaired during the final scene of the movie when his dad joined the townspeople in seeing the last rocket launched..

As Homer Hickam writes, “In the nearly thirty years since I had left the little West Virginia coal camp where I grew up, I had hardly talked to my father at all. This is not to say, during all those years, I had not seen him or heard his voice or he mine. On many trips back to West Virginia, and later to Myrtle Beach after his retirement, we had verbalized greetings, responded to desultory questions to one another, spoke of the weather or the time to drive from my home to his, and other such trite conversation, more appropriate to strangers than family. It was the way he wanted it and I complied. Such visits, in any case, were for the purposes of visiting my mother, to present myself proudly to her as the years went by for her critical inspection and approval.”

The Rest of the Story-Part 2
Concerning his father’s death Hickam continues, “In 1989, while I was on vacation, my father died. I didn’t know that it had happened until my return. My mother made no attempt to contact me. By the time I got home and made my way to Myrtle Beach, she had cremated him. I found her as I had always known her: fully in control and careful that I not be inconvenienced by my dad, even in death. I asked her about it, of course, but it did not surprise me that my mother was unwilling to share with me any details of Dad’s death. Her life had been spent in the coal fields as a miner’s daughter and then a miner’s wife. Those who died in that world were mourned intensely but briefly. To do more was a sign of weakness. She had already done her crying.” (www.homerhickam.com).

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From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/