Formation + Nurture + Leadership = Mission
Christian education in
the African American church context is often limited in the mindsets of
most people to teaching, learning, and schooling. Without a doubt it
includes these things, but those three aspects too narrowly define the
true essence of Christian education. The argument is that the
definition should include the formation and nurture of people.
Christian education is to be understood as the business of guiding
people toward Christian formation in the likeness of the One we follow
as disciples. We are helping people find their way to loving God with
all their heart, mind, body, and strength and loving their neighbors as
they love themselves.
Eugene C. Roehlkepartain speaking on the
subject Christian education says that there must be an emphasis on
nurture. Anne Wimberly says, “We need to do more to make African
American Christian education nurturing spaces.” Actually education is
an aspect of nurture, but sometimes what we label as education does not
always entail nurture. For example, when we stand in front a group of
people and pour out information for long periods of time without
inviting participation we call it education. However, often the
participants are left feeling overwhelmed and overloaded with
information and not engaged. This is often what happens in church
settings and it produces very little, if any, growth in individuals.
problem with education is that it often only entails imparting
information and usually in a class room environment. What is attempted
through the process of nurturing is to move people toward loving God and
It is what I believe Schipani means by “human
emergence.” It is my contention that all we do as Christian educators
embodies a ministry of helping people engender the witness of love
commanded by Jesus. The church’s purpose to love God is expressed
through nurture. It is helping people get to know God. Nurture is a
process and not a program of learning. It is intentional in nature.
involves helping people know and love God more. It is the priority of
the church. Jesus is the model we follow (Matthew 9:35; John 17:6-8,
14, 17, 20). The Apostles also are models (Acts 2:42; 5:42). Lastly,
it is commanded by Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). It seems that God places a
high priority on the training ministry of the Church..
Additional ResourcesDiscipleship in Principle and in Practice
, by Bishop Marshall Gilmore, CME Church, 1993.Discipleship 2000
, by Bishop Ronald Cunningham, CME Church.