Feb 05, 2007 On Personality and
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.
Ive 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 Gods 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 pastors 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 fathers death Hickam continues, In 1989,
while I was on vacation, my father died. I didnt 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 Dads death. Her life had been
spent in the coal fields as a miners daughter and then a miners
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.