Sunday, February 17, 2008

Youth Ministry as Education (part one)

I am fascinated by education. I am constantly intrigued by how people learn and grow. Perhaps there is a connection between this fascination and my chosen vocation of youth ministry, where learning and growth are constant factors. The etymology of "educate" is from educere, which means "to lead out" or "bring out." This has a connotation of guiding, cultivating, and blossoming.

What strikes me is a connection between the concept of education and the concept of discipleship in the church. The church is called to make disciples, to guide people into being followers of Jesus. This sounds very similar to educating people—to lead people to Jesus, to bring them out of darkness and into the light of the kingdom. While much of this work can be done by God alone, we are still called to foster environments where this can occur. I would propose that these are educational environments. Our youth ministries are educational; they are leading students out, whether we intend this or not.

I have been recently reflecting on some of the forms of education being used in the church, the primary two being preaching sermons and small group discussions. But are these the best forms of education? Is this the best way to make disciples? More importantly, is this how Jesus made disciples? How are we to respond as educators in the church?

I won't pretend that I am an expert on educational philosophy. But it is a subject that I wrestle with constantly as someone who teaches on a bi-weekly basis, and one I believe others in youth ministry and educational vocations find important. I'll be posting more about different methods and philosophies of education, wrestling with the different pros and cons of each, then look at how Jesus educated His disciples. 

Feel free to join the conversation and post your own thoughts and questions!

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