Thinking about the question of religious education I began to ask myself when and How did I become a member of my faith-based denomination? What was the process of

           Thinking about the question of religious education I began to ask myself when andHow did I become a member of my faith-based denomination? What was the process of making me a Christian?

           Through my religious developmental path, I have attended the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Catholic Church made sure each student read and understood the Catechism, and could say all of the Hail Mary’s.

           The Baptist Church through very strict teachings with Bible study cards, release time sessions from the public schools, long and required attendance in Sunday Schools, long sermons, mid week prayer meetings and religious training sessions for youth called BYPU, Baptist Young Peoples Union made sure each youth in the church had a solid foundation in the faiths and beliefs of the church.

The adult members of the church assumed direct responsibility for the religious development of each child. I remember having to take a series of test on my knowledge and understanding of the scripture. At the age of twelve, upon the recommendation of several of the church teachers, and on confession of faith, based on the knowledge I received, I elected to be Baptized. This was the Rites of passage into community of Christians. The event is made very special with the attendance of family members and the entire church. The event stays vivid in my mind for many reasons, the first being that the water in the baptismal pool was very cold. The shock of entering into the ice cold water in the middle of February sealed my religious education experience. I remember making the decision to follow all the rules, because I did not want to go through the experience again. I do however remember that the teachings were structured and clear, supported by examples of how Christian lived on a daily basis.

A very important lesson demonstrated to me by my mother was what it meant to be a Christian. I learned through example that religious education was about service. I remember my mother dressing us to take us to church. We had to take the bus. The Church was located on 132nd Street in Harlem New York. This particular Sunday, my other told us we were getting off on 127th Street. We got off the bus, and proceeded to walk towards an apartment building. We entered the building and climbed up 5 flights of stairs constantly asking my mother what were we doing, and expressing concern about being late for church. My mother reaching the 5th floor, knocked on the door. A frail woman came to the door. It was easy to see that she was ill. We entered the apartment, and my mother sat us down. She then opened her bag and pulled out an apron, which she carefully placed over her Sunday best dress. Mother proceeded to clean the house, cook dinner for the woman, and placed money on her night table. She asked us for the money we were going to put in church. Leaving the apartment, I asked my mother where were we going, she said, we were going home, we had already been to church. I always remembered that scene, and it became an important part of my Religious education, and influenced my life’s work in the field of education.

 

Catherine Tye (2000) suggests that there were four ways to understand Christian education. She discusses teaching, transmitting faith, conserving the faith, and  schooling. She further indicates that Religious education is a socialization process, she introduces terms such as nurture, enculturation and habit formation. She suggests that faith development spiritual formation, moral development are part of the personal development approach, which is important in Religious education. Tye  indicates that there is a need to develop a new Christian consciousness, which will be aware of a global context, which will cause Christians to think about the needs outside of their church and more about the needs of the world. Although the initial period spoken  about was over several decades. The question was being asked then as it is asked today in Religious education departments in churches.

 

Questions such as “What topic are we going to study and “what curriculum are we going to use?” This leads to the question of instructional content and instructional  delivery. What are you going to teach, and how are you going to teach it. Some of the concerns of Religious education programs today is that some individuals think that just taking the Bible, reading from it will provide the instructional information required in order to develop members of the faith. Some individuals may join particular  denominations without having information with respect to what are the core beliefs of  the denomination. Some individuals my desire feel good sessions, but have little concern or knowledge of the Christian faith or the teachings of Jesus.  Religious education program should therefore, have carefully structured lesson plans with stated aims and objectives. There will have to be some concern about the learner, and what information the church wants to impart to its members. There must be Materials available to carry out this task, and procedures by which the Christian education process takes place. Evaluation is important. Some method must be in place to determine if new members are receiving and understanding the role and responsibilities of a Christian. Jesus instructs us to go into the world . Jesus used a curriculum and content. He told His disciples what to say, and how to say it. Jesus was  the example of a Religious education teacher, and His words, as written in the Bible contains and effective lesson plan format. Jesus identifies Himself, and tells His aim and purpose.                He further states repeatedly His objectives. Jesus motivated His followers to listen to Him, by telling them that He was the Son of God, and that He was sent down from God to bring God love to His peoples on earth. Jesus demonstrated how peoples of God should think act and treat each other. He gave many demonstrations of what He wanted His disciples to do. Jesus instructional delivery

 

made it possible for all receiving His message to understand. Jesus gave directions with respect to how to handle the needs of the world and governments. His directions concerning a less confrontational route was demonstrated when He said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars, and unto God the things which are God’s.” This suggests that Religious education may have some directions when it comes to the  question of the separation of church and state. The Bible, with Jesus as the master teacher provides significant guidelines for Religious education programs. Jesus as the master teacher in the field of religious education provides the lesson  plans for effective instruction. He demonstrated that it was important to address the  ocial issues. He also demonstrated that He was one of them, and He understood and respected their customs and traditions. Jesus did not try to change their faith. He

 

attended their religious houses of worship. He broaden within his disciples the

 

understanding of the message of God the Father. The very birth of Jesus suggests that

 

He came into the world as and through humankind to address the serious issue of the

 

treatment of women on earth. He did not float down on a cloud, He did not appear full

 

grown, He came as a Babe. He came through the sacred source and co giver of life, a

 

woman. Through His birth, He elevated the position of women throughout the world.

 

Woman in many parts of the world, and are often spoken of in the Bible as being un

 

cleaned. The bible suggests that the part of the woman’s body involved in the

 

formation of life is un cleaned. Jesus, as God messenger enters into the world of

 

mankind through the same means, which gives life to all humankind living beings.

 

Jesus is carried as a fetus in the body of a woman.

 

A great deal of His work on earth

 

was centered around the identification of women as God’s special creation. Jesus not

 

only tackled social issues of women who have been left alone in the world, and as such

 

become used and abused by men, but He used the skill of Religious education to help

 

the men understand a higher order of thinking. Men who wanted to stone a woman to

 

death because they had used her as a sexual convenience were made to think about

 

themselves and their lives. Jesus visited the homes to demonstrate that they were

included in the family of God. The Bible states that the first time Jesus revealed Himself in terms as the Son of God, was to a woman at the well. The elevation of Mary

 

the Mother of Jesus to such a high place in the Catholic Church suggests that Jesus is

 

calling woman to a special ministry. Women have the heart of Jesus and as such they

 

have a special responsibility to bring His message to the world. The heart of Jesus is

 

concerned with the silent suffering of the people. Woman must therefore be the voice

 

of the voiceless, and the hope for the hopeless.

 

Jesus was concerned with justice and injustice. He was a doctor and a healer. He spoke

 

to the need and inclusion of the weak and disabled. He spoke to the needs of the

 

mentally ill and possessed. He spoke to the needs of the children seeking to come to

 

Him and being prevented by the adults who thought they would be in the way. Jesus

 

laid the foundation for Religious education programs for the church. His aims,

 

methods, motivations, procedures and evaluations are clearly laid out for teachers in

 

the religious field to follow.

 

In His selection of His disciples there is a clear indication that He is calling people from the world to be ministers and teachers. Each man called represents the individual characters of men. These men were not angels leading a life of privilege. Many were individuals who had productive and perhaps even troubled lives. Jesus did not call the perfect, He called men, and revealed their perfections as they developed into the

Faithful, which God needs to do His work. This brings up the question of preparation

 

for those considering entering the Religious education field. There are some

 

individuals who believe that with a Bible in hand, they have the skills necessary to conduct Religious education classes.

Using the Bible as a reference as a teachers training guide, it is clear that Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching His disciples before they went out to teach others. Individuals considering working in the ministry and or religious educational field, should make plans for extensive study sessions in order to determine, what they are expected to teach, and what is the process by which information in going to be taught. The minister of the church should hold curriculum training and instructional delivery workshops with the individuals who will be trusted with this important assignment.

 

 

Harold Burgess writes in Models of Religious Education that good teaching is equated with good presentation of scriptural and doctrinal materials properly arranged to meet the learners’ religious needs. He presents a list of educators dating back to the Greco-Roman world. Some of the best included Clement of Alexandra (ca.150-215) Augustine (354-430) Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225-1274) and Martin Luther (1483-1546). His research suggests that from a historical perspective, the question of how to provide an education for the faithful has been a concern since the beginning of time. Burgess writes that “ the Schema” given by Moses in the Old Testament instructs Israel in the importance of Religious Education.

 

…Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

and all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words

that I am commanding today in your heart. Recite

them to your children and talk about them when you are at home

and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

Bind them as a sign on your hand; fix them as an emblem on your forehead,

and write them on the doorpost of your house and on your gate (Deut.6: 4-9)

 

           Burgess suggests that the Schema reflected the intense national spirit, which was and continue to be a foundation of the Jewish Religious educational system.

 

In America today, Shema philosophy influences the religious practices of other

 

religions. Religious education in America can in some way be similar to some of the concerns expressed in the Bible. During the period in the Old Testament, there were people coming together from various multicultural groups. Some of the great wars in the Bible was fought over different views with respect to religion and culture. Today cultural clashes occur between Muslims and Jews. Since the Christians have so many divisions it is easy to see that the question of multicultural respect is a significant one. With the Christian religion, there is the division between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches. The Muslims, Christians and Jews have similar roots. They all believe in One God, and they are all descendants of Abraham. As rider on this globe called earth there must be some cooperation and respect for each other’s religion and acceptance that each is a child of God. It will however, be the responsibility of the Religious leaders to learn about other religions. It is also the responsibility of the leaders to select teachers and prepare them with the knowledge and the skills necessary

 

to unit the family of man as children of God.

 

The Urban cities are usually the enculturation centers of the world. In America, a nation of immigrants, this task is enormous. All of the religious battles fought in different parts of the world, end of here in our major urban centers. Our urban centers are also the places where the social problems can be found. Poverty, prejudice and pride sometimes blocks out the message of God’s love being delivered by the sons of

 

Abraham. The Christian soldiers keep marching one trying to prevent the hundreds of

 

thousands of men and women of color from being enslaved in a prison system designed

 

to trap and catch those who have chosen different paths in life. Today disciples of

 

Jesus must have the skills of social work and education. Disciples must go into the

 

prisons and help men find themselves and their souls.

 

               They must go into the homes and speak to women broken through abuse, and bring God’s love and a safe haven. They must bring the youth off the streets and into the house of the Lord and teach them how to Rap for Jesus. They must get the seniors who are blocking the doors of the church to the people to understand that without the people and the children there is no church. They must help them to understand that the building, which they guard so carefully, is not the church. The Sunday school is the church; the prison ministry is the church, the support services for young men coming out of prison, providing job training is the church. The food pantry is the church. The smile given to a homeless man laying in the street showing that God is visible in him is the church. These are some of the issues being faced by the church as its mission to educate people to carry

out the work of Jesus through life, work and mission.

 

Most of the ideas discussed in this paper were learned through many sources. First it was learned through the first teacher and first classrooms. This in the case of the writer was parents and home setting. I was privileged to join a church, which I believe

lives out its Christian mission. This paper demonstrated that the size of the church does not determine its mission. Jesus could speak to His people in a small group, or He could speak to thousands of people. His mission is simple. Care for my people. Love my people. Encourage the young people to come, and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven. We, who are called to do God’s work on earth, must prepare ourselves to serve and teach His people. We must have the skills and the organization to meet the ever-increasing needs of the people. We may want to love and pray for a hungry man, or we can help him to find food. We can pray for the youth, and we can develop the skills to help them with some of life’s real problems. Religious Education courses help us to be effective workers in God’s world.

 

 

 

 

[1]

Leave a Reply