Retiring a Jersey: Gregg Allison on the Importance and Role of Christian Education in the Life of the Church
If you ever check out the footer of this site, where we highlight the top 5 posts of the previous month, you'll have seen "Gregg Allison on the Importance and Role of Christian Education in the Local Church" has been on a #1 streak for a while (a long while!). And it's understandable why. Allison's excerpt resonates so closely with values that keep people coming back to this Brookside Institute site: multiplying ideas for equipping the church, theological formation, and more. (If you've not checked out the post, you can do so here.)
So as a nod of honor to Allison's material, I'm officially going to "retire the jersey." I'll leave the post just as it is on the site and will create a "retired jersey" category in the top posts section of this site's footer. However, moving forward I'll no longer include it in numbers 1-5 of each month's top post (even it continues to dominate the website "hits" for individual posts), thus allowing room for other posts.
Interested in other posts that have gotten a lot of traffic on this site recently? Click here to check 'em out!
Based on the number of "hits" each month, here are the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - June 2016 through December 2016. Take a minute to scroll through the list below and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
If you're like me, you've perhaps seen some "Top Reading Lists of 2016" floating around the internet and social media. Rather than adding my own such list (though click here to see some other books I've recently recommended), I figured I'd continue my tradition of highlighting some of the "Top Reading Lists of 2016" that I've found beneficial.
In other words, check out these book lists and you'll find some books that are worth reading. Of course, keep in mind that not every book is created equal, remember to read discerningly, and always remember that a careful and responsible reading of the Bible should be our final authority. But I generally think these "sources" are worth listening to for some worthwhile reads (I know I'll hope to be reading many of these I've not yet!) - and to see what's current in Christian publishing today. (Or click here for a bit more on how to R.E.A.D. books well.)
If you're still looking for some last minute Christmas gift ideas or want some reading material for yourself while taking some vacation days, these lists can come in handy that way too!
Below I've included both (1) links to sites where you can see the "top reading lists" (often with some explanation of why books were selected), followed by (2) a listing of books that made their way onto multiple lists. Happy reading!
2 Timothy 4:1-3 is a great "go to" passage for preaching. Listen to what Paul says:
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
There are all sorts of reasons this passage shouldn't be overlooked by those who preach. The importance of preaching is clearly highlighted: Paul's command in verse 2 is to PREACH THE WORD. That simple command drives this passage. If you look closely, this passage highlights the gravity of preaching (v. 1), its importance (v. 3), and different ingredients that will make their way into our preaching over the course of time ("correct, rebuke, and encourage"). All of these things are worth thinking about.
But the place I want to focus is on the two "qualifiers" that Paul mentions at the end of v. 2. As we "preach the Word," we're to do so with "great patience" and "careful instruction." I'm worried that these important qualifiers can be too easily lost by some who want to focus exclusively on other parts of this passage, and so let's look briefly at each of these, as we factor them into our preaching (and teaching).
I'm excited about Terry Linhart's (ed) recently released Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation. As the title and subtitle make clear, this book's focus is on teaching for Christian formation. Among others things, chapters throughout the book highlight the contribution of teaching for discipleship (ch. 1), developing a theology of education (ch. 2), a scriptural basis for teaching (ch. 3), the essence of the life of a teacher (ch. 4), along with sections on learning theories (section 2), curricular considerations for various ages (section 3), methodologies and evaluation (sections 4 and 5).
I'm excited about how this book will be an ongoing resource for me in a number of roles - as a teacher and communicator, as someone who thinks about scope and strategy in a church context, and simply as an advocate for the teaching ministry of local churches. I'm looking forward to digging into the book further.
I was reading through the Introduction last night, and ran across this quote that further whets my appetite for the book; the quote draws attention to the challenge (but also the opportunity) of teaching for Christian formation today. Check it out:
We stand here in a new century with a significant challenge before us. Recent research suggests that the church is losing young adults, even those who 'grew up' in the church. David Kinnaman says young adults leave in part because the church as field to help them think about and answer difficult questions. Similarly, the largest study on the religiosity of youth in America showed that church teens were surprisingly inarticulate about their faith. When researchers posed questions about what they believed, young people said it was the first time that an adult had asked them about their beliefs, and they seemed unable to answer basic questions about the central doctrines of the Christian faith. Though there is a lot of teaching in the church, could it be there is not as much learning?
Recently I had the privilege of presenting at a Teacher In-Service for Cornerstone Christian School in the Bellevue, NE area. The topic I was asked to teach on was "The Need for Biblical Truth."
Here's an edited form of my first major point: Why does biblical truth need my attention?
This last Sunday (Oct 16, 2016) I preached from Romans 8:18-39 on the subject of hope. (Interested in accessing the message? Click here and scroll down to the sermon from Oct 16, 2016.)
I'm a firm believer that hope can be on the distinguishing features of Christians (cf. 1 Peter 3:15), and so I loved the chance to spotlight what Christians are hoping FOR and who we're hoping IN. As we tally these things up, we see that knowing Jesus offers incomparable hope. This is why we can say, along with Paul: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).
Here's a summary of these points of my sermon (what Christians are hoping for, and who we're hoping in). Allow these to reinforce the incomparable hope knowing Jesus offers in your own life.
At its core, the Brookside Institute is all about building and reinforcing foundations of the Christian faith. We do this because we believe that something called "catechesis" - even though we don't always call it that - is still important and worthwhile. We love offering classes that help people Dig Deep, Learn Good, and Launch Well.
Everything in this post so far paints an initial picture of WHAT the Institute is all about, and WHY I believe so strongly in this equipping ministry for the local church. But at least one more important question still needs to be answered: HOW do we go about doing this?
I suppose there's a few angles by which this question could be approached. But perhaps THE SINGLE GREATEST ANSWER to the "how?" question is this: Institute teachers. If an excellent ministry (the "what") that clearly adds value (the "why") is offered, but the wrong people are at the helm, the "what" and the "why" don't matter (or they won't be realized). In other words, if you have the WHAT and the WHY but not the WHO, things are going to either collapse or never take shape.
All of this means teachers - in the Institute, or any other Christian education environment, for that matter - play a really big role. And that means we need to know what we're looking for in teachers. This helps with the selection filter, it adds credibility and value to everything else, and these qualities are things that shape ongoing training and development.
So, with that said, here are the 4 "C"s that make a strong Institute teacher:
Last night, the Brookside Institute offered a seminar on "How We Got the Bible." About 50 people signed up for 90 minutes of overview on origins and preservation of the Bible - good stuff! The overarching goal of this seminar was to reinforce trust in the Bible (and its message!) by examining its origin and reliable preservation.
As the Institute seeks to build and reinforce foundations of the Christian faith in the areas of biblical literacy and theological formation, seminars like this play an important role.
Below I've included some things that will give you a taste of the seminar. Here's the "Table of Contents" for what follows in this post if you keep scrolling:
As the Brookside Institute builds and reinforces foundations of the Christian faith, we CAN'T overlook the gospel. It's no overstatement to say you won't have the Christian faith without the gospel (check it out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-19 and Galatians 1:6-9). Keeping the gospel front-and-center is that big of a deal.
Since that's the case, I figured I'd post a sermon I gave last Sunday (9/18/2016) on the centrality of the gospel from Galatians 2:11-21. Here's a brief outline of the sermon:
I've also included the "gospel-shaped behavior" diagram I used when talking about Galatians 2:20 - you'll see that below under the video. (The time stamp of that segment is appx 29:15-33:38.)
Galatians 2:20 - "Gospel -Shaped Behavior" Diagram
Keep reading to see the "gospel-shaped behavior" pictures I drew out on Sunday.
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