By guest blogger Leslie Lindblad, MDiv
I have been a Sunday School Teacher and Youth Leader for many years. I am a teacher by profession and I have never considered whether or not someone can or cannot be educated. My educational philosophy is simply this, I am a facilitator that inspires my students to find their strengths, inspire ways to communicate their thoughts, develop a love for themselves and others. Morton Kelsey’s book Can Christians Be Educated? gave me an opportunity to self evaluate my approach to Christian Education. The book addresses methods and assistance with obstacles that a Christian educator may encounter during teaching sessions and interactions with members of the congregation. Topics include education in praying, love, communication wholeness, understanding emotion and finding values and a world view for educating Christians.
The topic I most enjoyed reading about was “Education in Love”. Kelsey addressed this topic very well. So well, I was able to work through some of my own struggles with “love”. I find myself often counseling my students, friends and even fellow church members about love although I have the same difficulties. I agree when Kelsey stated “With love there are no defenses, and one may be hurt deeply, again and again.”
I believe this is why so many people, including Christians fail to show love and compassion. Although this is very much a human trait, this is a topic that Christian educators will need to explore with their students. Kelsey provided several subcategories to include listening, loving one’s self, loving one’s family, loving our employees, loving a stranger and loving our enemies to provide examples of how love, or the lack of love can impact almost every facet of life. I have found the most difficult skill to teach others is loving our enemies. Sure, we know we are supposed to do this, but how do we teach this skill? Kelsey provides the reader with actual steps that I have incorporated into my instruction. The one skill that I have purposely incorporated into my instruction is to simply stop doing unkind things and stop saying unkind things to those who have been unkind to you. This skill seems so easy, but I believe it is the most difficult for us to demonstrate. We (humans) almost find comfort in tell our friends about the horrible things that someone else has done to us and our strategic plan to get them back. This behavior just continues the negativity and keeps us from truly experiencing God’s love.
The topic I knew the least about before reading the book is Education and praying. Although prayer is a part of our class time, I have found that my student seemed lost in the understanding of why we pray, how to pray, when to pray and the purpose of prayer. Prayer is such a powerful thing for me, but I had no clue how to educate my students about prayer. Although I still have some work to do in this area of instruction, Kelsey suggests that we should encourage our students to use images to find the deeper meaning in prayers. He also suggests that prayers such as the Lord’s prayer and Hail Mary’s that provide the individual with a “rhythm” and encourages meditation which helps with the explanation of imagery.
Kelsey’s book Can Christians Be Educated? was easy to read and gave examples that both experienced and beginning Christian educators can connect with. Although it was written in 1977, the information easily applies to today’s society. I recommend this book to all beginning and experienced Christian educators.