The faculty forum of Village Seven Presbyterian Church
In this introductory issue of “Didache” let me express my appreciation and support to you in your using of your gifts and talents for the up-building of our young brothers & sisters in Christ at VSPC. As you know, I consider the gift of teaching an exalted ministry in the church of our Lord (I Cor. 11:28; Eph. 4:11¬12; Romans 12:7) and absolutely indispensable to our fulfilling our function as a true church of Christ. Paul indicates in Eph. 4:11-12 that I as pastor (and perhaps teacher) and you as teachers (and perhaps pastors) are called by God to use out gifts for the equipping of fellow believers for the work of service in order that all members of Christ’s body (VSPS) may perform their individual ministries for the good of the whole church. Needless to say, this is a vital need in VSPC today. As we, together, prepare our students to obey God and enjoy His grace and goodness we need to keep firmly in mind that when Christ returns He will bring us to account for our stewardship of His gifts to us (Luke 16:1-13; 19:11-27; Romans 14;10-12; 2 Cor, 5:10).
Things to remember:
1. Each team of teachers is in charge of their class. They are, in fact, mini-pastors of their students. The teachers are the only direct contact which the church has with the students so their entire person (social, aspects) must be ministered to by the teaching team.
2. The teachers should have personal contact with each student and should visit the home of each M student (not visiting students) to explain our Sunday school.
3. In each class session, new students and visiting students should be recognized and introduced; birthdays should be recognized (and a card sent during the week) and attendance faithfully taken.
4. Prayer by the students should open and close each class session.
a. Children’s Division teachers keep Ron Bailey informed of any and all material needs. Pre-School Division teachers keep Roberta Morphis informed and Youth Division teachers keep Norm Harpole informed. And always remember if there are any problems that need help, call Kathy or Bob Case at 597-9542.
b. Children’s Division teachers: Make sure your students have each take-home lesson beginning with Sept. 2 issue! We will give a present to etch student who has completely done (filled out) each lesson and is able to pass a general test over the contents of the lessons of Sept., Oct., Nov. and December (Fall semester).
c. “The Didache”: A short manual of church life and morals written probably about 120 A.D. with the full title being “The Teaching of the Apostles”. “Didache” comes from the Greek language for “teaching.” This manual was very highly regarded by the Church Fathers (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, etc.) and contains an early witness to the canonicity of Matthew, Luke, as well as several of the minor epistles. Forgotten for over 1500 years, “The Didache” was discovered in 1873 and published in 1883.
II. HISTORICAL SURVEY OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
A. God is the first Educator.
B. God chose a People as Guardians of His Truth and Bearers of His Message to other Nations:
1. ln Patriarchal times, no schools as such but much teaching going on.
2. The Exodus was an event that taught many lessons to the People.
a. The Passover instituted as another means of educating the People.
3. The Mosaic Law: Its Purpose and Its Uses.
4. The Role of the Jewish Family in education:
a. Psalm 78:5, 6
b. Deut. 6:6, 7
c. Deut. 11:18-20.
5. Home education was reinforced by the priests (Deut. 31:9-13)
6. Prophets added as public teachers, due to failure of priesthood (I Sam. 3:13.
7. Schools of Prophets established under Samuel (I Sam. 9:19; 10:5,10;19:20; II Kings 2:3-5; 4:38;6:1)
a. Pupils studied the Law and its interpretation.
b. Pupils made copies of the Law.
c. Pupils became teachers and preachers.
d. Some pupils became proficient in the use of musical instruments (I Sam. 10:5).
8. The first schools of prophets were at:
a. Ramah (I Sam. 19:19, 20)
b. Bethel (2 Kings 2:3)
c. Jericho (2 Kings 2:5)
d. Gilgal (2 Kings 4:38)
e. Other places ( 2 Kings 6:1)
9. During Babylonian Captivity new educational developments were found:
a. The rise of the synagogue schools.
b. The office of scribe, later rabbi.
C. Jesus’ Teaching Methods:
1. His teaching was revolutionary as far as content and method.
2. He is called teacher sixty times out of ninety times He was addressed by others.
3. He showed a good understanding of His pupils.
4. He displayed through His own teaching what the teacher’s personal qualities should be.
5. He made use of correction in His dealings with disciples.
6. The style He used was rich in simplicity.
7. He made a masterful use of visual-aids in His teaching.
8. He made much use of the question as a teaching method.
9. His method was “learning by doing” as He provided opportunities for action among His pupils.
As we approach Christmas, 1973 and we think about the holy Child and his family, it is good once again to review the place of the family in teaching chil¬dren about the holy Child. There are basically six why the home is the primary educator of children:
1. The home was the first institution in the history of the human race.
2. The home is the first institution in the life of each individual.
3. The home has the child before any other institution.
4. The home has the child for the longest period of time.
5. The home has the child when external control is the greatest.
6. The home has the child under the most impressionable circumstances.
The goal of all Christian education whether it is done at home, or at church, or at school, must be to conform people to the image of God. Ephesians 4:13, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man (woman), to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.” and 2 Timothy 3:17, “that the man (woman) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
The church, it seems to me, can educate its members in three equal ways:
1. through the quality of its corporate life.
2. through the ministry of its members as they live in the world.
3. through a program of planned activities.
The teacher’s role is no less important in any of the three above ways. Never think that a quality program of activities will offset a shabby exhibition of #1 and #2.
Finally, let me add some personal thoughts: While I will no doubt see each of you several times before the end of the year, I went to be sure you know how much I appreciate your diligence and effort in our Sunday school program. Significant changes were made in the fall which have greatly improved our Sunday school ministry. You teachers have been at the vanguard of what I believe to be a more relevant, a more Biblical and a more efficient way of instructing the children of our membership. You have had to wrestle with difficult (but outstanding) material under extremely difficult conditions. We have tried to initiate new teaching concepts together; sometimes we succeeded, sometimes we failed. We have areas of concern in our Sunday school program but I’m convinced that we have a very good start on a program of education that can develop into something truly outstanding. Thank you all for your suggestions and criticisms of the program – it is, after all, our church and everyone has the right (no, the responsibility) to evaluate (and then assist) every aspect of our corporate life before our God. Thank you all for offering to teach another semester. May Kathy and I learn how to minister to each of you even better in this 2nd semester.
Thoughts for the New Year:
I will seek, the Lord enabling me:
1. to prepare each lesson which I am to teach faithfully and prayerfully.
2. to intercede faithfully for my students at the throne of grace.
3. to contact by visit, phone or card each pupil who is absent.
4. to prayerfully seek to lead each student to saving faith in Jesus Christ, and to a life built up in
the Word of God.
5. to endeavor to read two books and a periodical on Christian Education and/or Christian growth during the year.
Some thoughts on prayer from Ruth Paxson:
1. Has my prayer life been powerless because of some besetting sin?
2. Has my prayer life been hindered by haste, irregularity, lack of definiteness, lack of system, insufficient preparation, unbelief, lack of communion with God through study of His Word?
3. Has my prayer life been fruitless? Have I really had such power with God that I have had power with people? Have I had definite answers to prayer week by week?
4. Has my prayer life been limited to my own life? to my own particular kind of work? to my own church? Am I truly an intercessor after God’s own heart?
5. Has my prayer life been starved or have I devoted even one month of my Daily Bible Study to letting the Lord teach me to pray from His own example, His prayers, His precept, commands and promises about prayer?
6. Has my prayer life been joyless? Has prayer been more of a duty than a privilege? Do I love to pray?
7. Has my prayer life been growing? Do I daily know more of the meaning, efficacy and power of prayer?
8. Has my prayer life been sacrificial? Has it cost me anything in time, strength, vitality, love?
9. Has my prayer life been restricted to certain stated seasons each day, or have I come to know from experience what it is to pray “without ceasing”?
There were a great many Jewish schools teaching the Torah (Mosaic Law) and Talmud (the collection of writings constituting the Jewish civil and religious law) in the Palestine area during the time of Christ. In fact, it is claimed there were some 480 synagogues (school houses) in Jerusalem alone.
During the Babylonian Captivity (586-537) the system of synagogues developed in the foreign land to maintain the Jewish customs and law. Ezra (465-424 BC) was the prototype of the New Testament rabbi (Ezra 7:6, 11-12, 21; Luke 2:46¬48, 10:25-23). The basic tenet of the Jewish curriculum was repetition. In fact, the Hebrew word SHANNAH which we now translate “to learn”, originally meant “to repeat”. There was one teacher for every 20 students and classes met all day and part of the night six days a week.
The only break was on the Sabbath (Saturday) and there was no summer vacation. It is interesting to remember how often Jesus taught and spoke in the synagogues. Clearly, he believed His message was as much a set of teachings (philosophy).as a life style. His words were to be memorized as well as lived.
Jesus was addressed approximately 90 times in the Gospels and 60 of these times he is called “rabbi” (teacher). Arid in John 13:13 he calls himself “teacher and Lord”. (John 3:2; Mark 12:13-14)
Next month: The teaching aim and method of Jesus
THE TEACHING AIMS AND METHODS OF JESUS
1. Jesus made
a. Their capabilities (John 16:12)
b. Their desire to learn
c. Their attitude towards him (Matt. 16:15)
d. Their attitude towards each other (Mark 10:35-45)
2. Jesus emphasized forgiveness in his students’ relationships (Matt. 6:14-15)
3. Jesus taught his disciples to condemn injustice in their world (Matt. 18:15-17; 23:1, 23)
4. Jesus used repetition to teach a central point (Luke 15 and “lost” parables)
5. Jesus was able to maintain the interest of his students.
6. Jesus had patience, self-control and self-discipline when he taught (Matt. 18:22; 20:20-25)
7. Jesus had the ability to lead his students (John 10:4)
8. Jesus gave his students proper recognition (Mark 14:3-6; Luke 12:28; Matt 16:17)
9. Jesus corrected wrong thinking in his students. (Matt. 18:15-17; John 21:15-17)
*he used silence to correct (Matt. 15:21-28)
*he used implied rebuke (John 8:1-6)
*he used a stern rebuke (Matt. 16:21-23)
10. Jesus used the question and answer method in his teachings (John 4:5ff; Luke 2:46, 49)
*he used rhetorical questions*
*he used Examinations.
NEXT MONTH: A quick survey of Christian education from Christ to the present.
While the above items may be hard to apply, we nevertheless can see that Jesus was not a sloppy teacher, but rather one who had definite goals and methods in his instruction. We are fortunate at VSPC to have access to Mr. Sam Pennington, minister of education at EPC. Sam has had extensive experience and training in educational techniques and he has agreed to spend a day with us this spring and talk about effective teaching methods.
A note or two:
*Remember to periodically check the BCE report on your responsibilities as teachers of the children of VSPC.
*February 21 & 22 & 23 – the Rocky Mountain Evangelical Sunday School Association holds its annual teacher training convention in Denver. If you can go (it should be valuable) call Caye Tozer.
Shortly after the time of Christ, the church began the catechetical teaching method. “Catechetical” means to teach by oral instruction (cata – thoroughly; echitical – to sound) in the manner of question and answer. Hence, the form of the Westminster Catechisms and the Heidelberg Catechism – question and answer. There were three levels of students (catechumens) in those early church classes:
1. “Hearers” – those allowed just to listen to the religious teaching in class.
2. “Kneelers” – those allowed to pray with the class.
3. “Chosen” – those in the final stage just prior to baptism.
Alexandria was the site of the first great Christian school. Tradition has it that Mark started the school, but we do know that Pantaneus (d. 202) was the first teacher and he taught Clement (d. 220) and Origen (d. 254) their theology. It was this school which developed the allegorical method of Scriptural interpretation.
With the inclusion of the barbarians in the church after Constantine (d. 337) church education isolated itself in the monastic movement. The Benedictines (6th C.) reacted to monastic excesses and brought Christian education out into the open again, although by this time there was a firmly established cleft between the laity and the clergy and only the clergy were being catechized. Cathedral schools were established in the Middle Ages to accomplish the training of clergy.
Meanwhile, there were five great evangelical movements functioning, along side of the Cathedral schools which were harbingers of the Protestant Reformation. These movements emphasized home Bible training for all believers.
The five movements were:
*Albigenses (Southern France, 11-13 c.);
*Waldenses (Southern France and Northern Italy, 12-20 c.);
*Hussites (Czech., 14-15 c.);
*Lollards (England, 14-15 c.);
*Brethren of the Common Life (Holland, 14-16 c.).
Next month: From the Reformation to the present.
A welcome to Flo Adams and Bentley Rayburn for joining our church teaching staff. Thanks also go to Bill Johnson and Bess Perkins for making a shift in teaching assignments.
VSPC TEACHER OUESTIONAIRE
Name of Teacher:
These questionnaires will ONLY be useful if you teachers are honest and tough-minded with the church leaders and yourselves. Please be honest and forthright. These questionnaires will be used to evaluate the total Sunday school program.
1. Do you feel that the teacher training program conducted in the fall was valuable? Yes No
2. What did you feel was valuable about this training: the teaching on how to better use the materials?
*the time to talk about administrative detail
*a time to pray about the students.
*a time to fellowship with other teachers.
*other (please specify):
3. Do you feel a need NOW for a teacher training program? Yes No
4. If so, what would you like it to consist of?
5. How often would you like a new teacher training program?
6. Do you feel I am available to help you as a teacher? Yes NO
As a person? Yes No
7. Do you feel your division director or the Chairman of the Board of Christian Education is concerned about you as teacher? Yes No
At a person? Yes No
8. Do you feel YOU are being fed by the pastor’s preaching ministry at VSPC? Yes No
9. Has the “Didache” proven to be of interest and worth to you? Yes No
10. Do you feel your gifts (or –training or interest) of teaching is appreciated by the church? Yes No
11. Do you feel the hour allotted for Sunday school is enough time to teach what you want to teach? Yes— No
12. If not, how much time would you like to have for Sunday school?
13. Do your students like the present Sunday school materials? Yes No
14. Do you feel you are teaching your students an adequate amount of Biblical truth? Yes No
15. Do you feel that you should have the responsibility of visitation for new members in your class? Yes No,
16. If not, do you think this should be left to the evangelism teams? Yes No Elders? Yes No ; Pastors? Yes No; Any interested church member? Yes No
17. Do you think it is worthwhile to send “missed you” cards to absent class members? Yes No
18 Did (does) the lengthy “September Report” of the Board of Christian Ed. prove to be helpful to you in understanding Christian Education at VSPC? Yes No
19. Do you feel that the church leadership (elders, BCE) is open to change and that your ideas and innovations are listened to with the proper respect and appreciation? Yes No
20. Any other suggestions, criticisms or commendations? List below.
April – May, 1974
One of the great changes Martin Luther advocated during the German Reformation was state supported (and compelled) education for children. To this end he wrote two catechisms, taught himself, composed hymns for educational purposes (as well as for worship) and translated the Latin Bible into German thus standardizing the German language.
Calvin also believed in popular education and to this end wrote a catechism. Believing that the Bible was the foundation of all learning he also founded a College in Geneva. Calvin had his hymns written by his close friend Louis Bourgeois.
The Heidelberg Catechism (1562) (a standard for the Christian Reformed Church) was written to be used in German schools to swing certain territories from Lutheran doctrine over to Reformed doctrine. This catechism is still widely used in Reformed Churches and it is an excellent teaching tool in the Reformed faith.
The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) of the Counter Reformation, John Wesley of the 18th Century English revivals and Count Van Zinzendorf of the Moravians, were also great and influential educators.
Robert Raikes (1735-1811) of Gloucester, England, founded the first Sunday school to provide secular education to street urchins on Sunday – the only day off from the horrid mills and working conditions of the 18th–19th Century England. The first Sunday school was organized in 1780.
In 1786 the first Sunday school came to America – in Virginia. By this time, the church had taken over the curriculum and made it Christian school Observation
Sunday school observation questionnaire
*Is the class room clean and orderly?
*Is it decorated with pictures, charts and articles of pupil interest or samples of pupil activity or study?
*Is it arranged well for good attention and teaching?
*Did the teacher have all materials in readiness?
*Show genuine interest in pupils?
*How was that interest manifest?
*Did the teacher get the attention of pupils from the beginning? How?
*Did the teacher command and earn good discipline throughout the session?
*How did the teacher approach the lesson?
*What was the aim of the lesson?
*Was the aim obvious throughout the lesson?
*What methods did the teacher use? (e.g., story, lecture, discussion, question-answer, dramatization, project, etc.)
*What visual aid was used? Was it well used?
*Did the teacher consider the age level of his pupils in: relating the lesson to the pupil’s experience, interest and needs? Length of lesson? Activity provided?
*Did the teacher teach from his Bible?
*Was the lesson built up to a worthy climax?
*Was the central truth applied to the pupils’ lives in a natural and effective way?
*Were the pupils challenged to practice the truth of the lesson? How?
*Were the pupils cooperative and attentive?
*Were the pupils genuinely interested throughout the class time?
*Did all the pupils participate in the lesson? How?
*Did the pupils use their Bibles during the lesson?
*What evidence was there of real learning during the class session?
*The results of the Sunday School questionnaire have been given to Elder James Alexander, Chairman of the Board of Christian Education.
*In response to the Corrells’ urging, I wrote a letter to Great Commission Publications concerning a certain lesson. We received a very positive reply so please feel free to criticize the materials to your division Director.
*As you know, this will be the last “Didache” and I trust, if nothing else, it has provided a link between me and you.