Christian Education

Christian Education

Nov 26, 2014

Christian Education

by Andrew J. Camenga


One of my earliest memories of Christian Education is striving to memorize the Beatitudes in order to achieve my goal: earning a collapsible pencil. The pencil had a white plastic barrel emblazoned with blue letters and a pencil insert that could be positioned to either be tucked into the barrel (and be safe for transport in a pocket) or to be sticking out (and useful for writing). My goal was the pencil. Their goal was that I hide God’s word in my heart. Well, I no longer have the pencil, but I remain familiar with Beatitudes.


Several years later, once I was old enough to help and not be just a student, another memory surfaces: helping with Vacation Bible School. Part of me dreaded those days because Vacation Bible School meant that tables and chairs had to be rescued from the dark and mildewy dungeon to which they had been vanquished 51 weeks prior. Their dungeon, as all dungeons should be, was dark, somewhat musty, and decorated by spiders who weren’t afraid to display their accumulated failed structures alongside their newly established engineering masterpieces. Undersized for most adults, this dungeon provided enough headroom for younger teens to work freely. And so, we were permitted to demonstrate our valiant natures by battling through the spider webs, vanquishing the mildew, and setting the tables and chairs free.

Young Child's Hands Praying On Holy Bible

I make it sound worse than it was. The adults carried the burden of the work. They did not foist the unpleasant work on unsuspecting teens. It was just that when we showed up to help, removing the tables and chairs from the storage place under the stairs was a job that they could assign to us with confidence that we would understand and complete the task.


This, too, is a Christian Education memory. The asthma inducing work with mildewy tables and chairs preceded (and was necessary for) a week of people in the church teaching children younger than I about God and how He makes Himself known in the world. These are two of the cherished memories that have come to the forefront of my thoughts as I’ve contemplated writing my last three articles as BCE’s Executive Director. Beyond events from childhood and youth that led me to value intentional and organized Christian Education programs, I’ve thought about the people I’ve come to know and the ideas that others have given me through these years in this role. I am profoundly grateful to our Lord and to you for providing this opportunity to serve. I have seen pastors and teachers, youth group leaders and Christian education chairs, Sabbath school superintendents and camp directors demonstrate a desire to know the way of Christ, to serve the kingdom of God, and to encourage others to do the same. It has been a joy to see the breadth and depth of commitment that exists in the people of this conference of churches.


I encourage you to think about Christian Education in your church and to think about you yourself as a Christian educator. With these last three articles, I will share three Scripture passages that have deeply influenced my thinking and hope that you will ponder them and let the words become part of how you live. In turn, the passages encourage us to show humility, sticky-ness, deliberate-ness.


The first is 1 Peter 5:5-11:

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.


Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.



Humility is a characteristic that many feel or think is inherently self-defeating — either it cannot be claimed as an attribute or it forces people to disclaim personal ability. In the first case, some think that a humble person cannot recognize their own humility. This sentiment assumes that as soon as you think or say, “I am being humble,” that any existing humility will be extinguished by that realization. In the second case, some think that a humble person cannot recognize personal ability. This sentiment assumes that as soon as you think or say, “I am good at this,” that any existing humility will disappear in a puff of smoke.


But humility is not a self-defeating characteristic. Humility is not a refusal to recognize personal strength or ability. True humility is driven by recognizing who we are in comparison to our Lord and embracing those gifts, abilities, and characteristics that He has given to us for use in His service (see Romans 12, the whole chapter).


You cannot be a Christian educator without being a Christian — someone who has discovered that we cannot please God without faith, without trusting God for all that we have and all that we can do. That reality must remain with us as we teach others. As long as we truly remember that fact and align our lives with it, we will have the humility necessary to serve and teach. For Christians, neither the teacher nor the student are masters — we are all servants of the living God.

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