What Effective Church Educators Do
Fortunate is the church that can afford to call a paid church educator. More fortunate still is the church that finds an effective educator. That one person will make all the difference in helping a church have a stellar Christian education formation program for its members.
What do effective church educators do? A lot, actually, more than most church members realize. Below are seven key things church educators do:
Envision. Church educators have a global vision of the educational enterprise, and, a contextual vision for the enterprise as it needs to be in their local church context. This vision is informed by two things: (1) clarity of their theology, and, (2) commitment to their philosophy of education. You need both if you hope to shape an effective Christian education program.
Plan. Church educators know how to plan an educational program, including its curriculum (by which we do not mean the material you order from a publisher). Effective educators plan at least three years out into the future.
Develop. Church educators spend a lot of their time in the development of both the program and the people: church members, faculty, workers, volunteers, and, let’s not forget, the pastor. “Job 1” for most church educators is to educate the pastor. Effective educators develop for three to five years into the future.
Manage. Effective church educators are generalists. As such, most will find themselves managing things outside their primary calling. Aside from managing their program budget, church educators may manage office staff, building use and maintenance, church program schedules, non-educational church committees, children’s daycare programs, etc.
Assess. Church educators practice rigorous educational assessment. They can evaluate the effectiveness of the educational activities in the church. The bottom line for every educator is: are we actually helping people grow in their faith? In their discipleship of obedience? In maturity? In ministry and mission engagement?
Equip. Church educators spend a lot of time and energy equipping people for ministry, from teaching to serving, from ministry to mission. Effective church educators are not overfunctioners, they do what they are responsible for with excellence, but they equip others to work out their calling.
Persevere. Effective church educators persevere. They know that it takes years of commitment and cultivation to see the fruition of their vision for an authentic and transformative Christian education program. Educating believers through their life with the church is a big job, but as any called and committed church educator will tell you, it’s worth it!
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.