Category Archives: Along the Journey

From our Center of Lifelong Learning.

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How Church Size Influences Christian Education

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

There are many factors that influence Christian education programming in congregations. Two of those factors are staff leadership and congregational size. While we may desire otherwise the fact is that congregations are highly dependent on program staff for leadership, development, and the effectiveness of educational programs. And often, educational program leaders are the last staff hired (the typical order of staff hires are: pastor, musician, part-time youth/children staff, full-time youth/children staff, then, educator). Which means that any educator who is the first full-time program staff person in a congregation likely has to deal with years of neglect in the area of church-wide educational programming.

The second factor that influences congregational education is the size of a congregation. Below are general characteristics related to how the size of a congregation affects educational programming: Continue reading

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For the Bookshelf: The Order of Ministry

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Topics and themes have a cyclical life to them, coming into popular dialogue and debate and then receding into the background, as others become the “hot” issue of the day. Happily, recent years have seen the resurgence of one of the more important concepts in both theology and congregational concerns, namely, the role of the laity in the church. The Order of Ministry: Equipping the Saints , ed. by Jerry L. Sumney. Lexington, KY: Lexington Theological Seminary, 2002. 102 pages, is a collection of essays addressed to a Disciples of Christ audience on matters of long concern for that denomination: ordination and the role of the laity under the understanding of the priesthood of all believers.

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Using Prayer in Your Teaching

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

I remember congratulating a young man on his first sermon. The topic was prayer and he did very well for his first effort. Responding to my compliment on his performance, he replied, “Thanks, but I couldn’t go wrong on this one. Who’s not going to agree that prayer is important?”

Despite his motives for choosing a safe topic to address in his first sermon, the young man was right, who doesn’t agree that prayer is important? Prayer is a given in the Christian life. It is foundational to continuing spiritual growth, including learning about the Christian life in formal educational settings.

Using prayer in the learning experience is one effective way to help your learners grow. There are more opportunities to pray in our teaching and learning than we may realize. Prayer doesn’t just happen when we bow our heads, close our eyes, and whisper a message to God. Prayer can happen all throughout the learning experience if we plan for it and incorporate it into our lesson planning. Delia Halverson in her book, 32 Ways to Become A Great Sunday School Teacher, suggests five ways to use prayer in the learning experience.
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For the Bookshelf: The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Given a choice between understanding Jesus as a first century Jew, or Jesus as a Christian, Paul F. M. Zahl, dean of the Cathedral of the Advent (Episcopal), would probably choose Jesus as the original, “first” Christian. He suggests as much in the title of this provocative short work. Zahl’s small but rich book deals with the fundamental questions surrounding the relationship of Christianity to its mother faith, Judaism, and more specifically, the relation of Jesus of Nazareth to first century Judaism.

In The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus Zahl attempts to provide a corrective to what he sees as the prevailing re-judaizing and re-culturation of the founder of the Christian faith, Jesus of Nazareth. This tendency, he believes, has been motivated by a shared Christian “Holocaust guilt” and results in a contextualized second-century historical figure that is inadequate to the realities of the unique claims of both the founder and the faith or Christianity. Continue reading

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The Child in Christian Thought

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

The Child in Christian Thought,  ed. by Marcia J. Bunge (Religion, Marriage, and Family series. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001. 513 pp. $24.00. ISBN 0-8028-4693-9) is a collection of essays on the concept and theological thinking about the child throughout Christian history. The book is part of the larger “The Child in Christian Thought” project by editor Marcia Bunge that strived to inform current thinking on children, the church, and families by tracing the concept of the child and childhood through the history of Christian thought.

The book is a study in historical theology that attempts to answer specific questions regarding: (1) How selected theologians and movements speak about the nature of children,  (2) How do they speak about the roles and responsibilities of parents, the state, and the church in nurturing children, Continue reading