Home What IS Christian Education? - Issue #60

What IS Christian Education? - Issue #60

This is an excerpt from a PDF download. To download the full text of this document click: What IS Christian Education?.

When asked in interviews to define Christian education, several common elements emerged. Some described it very broadly ("everything other than worship that helps us grow in faith"; "every endeavor and opportunity to grow in body, mind, and spirit"), while others specifically connected Christian education with service and ministry in daily life. Disciple formation always focused on the nature of discipleship — being formed in the image of God for service to and transformation of the world.

Over all, these congregations defined Christian education practically (offering Sunday school classes, small groups, special studies as DISCIPLE, mission outings); philosophically (the process by which we engage in partnership with God to make disciples); and existentially (forming and transforming lives according to the image of Christ).

The outcomes ranged the same way — practically (offer classes, Bible reading and biblical literacy, learn to think and ask questions, increased service, equip parents as faith teachers and models; alleviate suffering; tithe); philosophically (advocacy for children, especially; make disciples, equip the saints, teach and learn spiritual gifts; connect the biblical story with one’s life; see the unchurched become the church); and existentially (transformed lives and behaviors to reflect a growing relationship with Christ in the image of God, love and respect for oneself and others, grow in commitments to God and be accountable, engage in and show fruits from spiritual disciplines, explore and grow one’s gifts).

What is clear in these exceptional congregations is that Christian education is far more than Sunday school or offering a cluster of miscellaneous classes and groups. Its vision and goal encompasses the learning groups, relationships, and experiences that educate, inspire, and transform people into God’s image so that they are effective and productive Christian disciples in the church and marketplace.

Some Questions for Discussion

  • How does your congregation define Christian education — practically, philosophically, and existentially?

  • How does your congregation intentionally develop learning groups, relationships, and experiences that educate, inspire, and transform people into God’s image so that they are effective Christian disciples?

Diana L. Hynson is Director of Learning and Teaching Ministries at the Discipleship Ministries. She can be reached at [email protected]. For more information on the interviews referred to in this article go to: http://tiny.cc/bl61e.

In 2007 church leaders throughout The United Methodist Church in the U.S. were invited to identify churches that demonstrated the vision of discipleship described in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Over 200 churches were surveyed or visited. Issue #60. © 2010 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this page for use in United Methodist congregations.

Contact Us for Help

View staff by program area to ask for additional assistance.


* indicates required

This is a bi-monthly email where you’ll receive the highest quality resources to support your disciple-making process. Everything from Helpful Articles, New Webinar Series and Podcasts, Discounted Teaching Series, and so much more!

Please confirm that you want to receive email from us.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please read our Privacy Policy page.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.