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Christian Education: Building Programs or People?

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A previous post emphasized that Christian Education is an ongoing process. We never arrive at a built product. Rather, we are in a constant state of building. But, what are we building … programs or people? As was also communicated in the previous post, God’s objective is for believers to grow and keep growing to become more and more Christ-like. Will your programs and facilities help people grow? Prayerfully they will be used by God but we must keep perspective.

Programs are tools, not the means of growth.

Building up people begins with the cross and requires that we keep taking people back to the cross … not that they attend our programs.

When thinking about how God wants us to grow, we must take a look at 2 Peter 1:3-9. Verse five points to being intentional in the growth process — “make every effort to add to …” but notice where it begins: “to add to your faith.” We begin our journey as believers accepting God’s salvation “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8) because of the cross and add to that faith “goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (2 Pet. 1:5-7). But, it doesn’t end there if we are going to be effective and productive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus, we must “possess these qualities in increasing measure” (2 Pet. 1:8). The only way we are going to keep increasing is to keep throwing ourselves at the foot of the cross, the basis for His continued working in our lives — “But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins” (2 Pet. 1:9).

Building up people requires helping them get to know the God of the Bible … not merely gain Bible knowledge through your classes and programs.

Are you praying similarly for the people in your church as the Apostle Paul did for the Colossian church?

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that … (Col. 1:9-11)

Notice how the objective wasn’t merely that they were filled with the knowledge of God’s will. Paul prayed that the people would also see the implications and application of that truth to their lives and live accordingly. To what end? — That they bore fruit but also that they grew in the knowledge of God … not merely knowing about Him, but truly knowing Him.

Programs are tools, not the source of growth.

How important it is for us to notice in the context of the above referenced passages pertaining to believers growing, that we find the source of such growth.

2 Pet. 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Col. 1:11 – growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that …

God will undoubtedly use our programs and facilities in the growth process as we build them according to His specifications, but we cannot give ourselves or our efforts the credit. Our programs are merely tools to plant and water the seed. “… neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor. 3:7).

If we view programs as an end in themselves, there will likely come a time when they are no longer useful to building up people. We will undoubtedly get to the point where Christian Education is about maintaining and perpetuating programs when God’s objective is that people “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” to which we can add, ” To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Pet. 3:18)

Next step? – Validate the existence of the various programs you have developed.
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