Pomp and Circumstance must reverberate through the atmosphere at this time of year. Graduates of higher education have received their expensive diplomas declaring them ready for real life and productive work.
An education is preparation for life and for work.
The Church is also engaged in Higher education.
What is the purpose of the education that we receive from our churches?
Christians today have excellent instruction available to them in their churches, on-line, and in Bible studies. Highly skilled pastors/teachers give excellent lectures – oops, I mean messages. Class – I mean church members dutifully listen, take notes, and personally apply the material.
Biblical preaching and teaching is the education that should prepare each follower of Jesus for the a life and the job of making disciples.
I wonder if the church tends to confuse education with the work of discipleship.
Several churches that I’ve attended feature a message, at least 45 minutes in length, as the main event of Sunday morning worship services. Why call it a worship service if is mostly education? (Other traditions have a more balanced mix of liturgy, music, sacraments and a sermon. Frankly, that sounds more like worship.)
I wonder if the church tends to confuse education with worship.
Are churches over-emphasizing education at the expense of other important aspects of faith, discipleship and worship?
The book What is the Mission of the Church?, by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, is representative of churches that operate with a focus on, “…preaching and teaching, announcing and testifying, making disciples and bearing witness…the initial and continuing verbal declaration of the gospel…” (p. 59, italics mine.) The authors recognize that other aspects of the Christian life, most notably service to the poor and oppressed, are important but are not the most important work of the church.
I appreciate that this is motivated by a proper emphasis on the Gospel. It is, as Paul put it, “…the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
My concern is that the emphasis on “preaching and teaching” tends to locate the primary work of the church with the few people who speak from the pulpit. The rest of us start to believe that our job is to learn instead of to live the Gospel.
Furthermore, churches with this focus seek leaders who are gifted teachers perhaps at the expense of other important pastoral gifts. “Able to teach” is just one of the biblical qualifications for church leadership.
Learning is important preparation for living. Following Jesus is the life and disciple-making the job of every Christian.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Do you think churches over-emphasize education? How do you “make disciples?”