'There is a great difference between learning about the Bible and living as a disciple of Jesus Christ...Faith cannot be taught by any method of instruction; we can only teach religion. We can know about religion, but we can only expand in faith, act in faith, live in faith. Faith can be inspired within a community of faith, but it cannot be given to one person by another. Faith is expressed, transformed, and made meaningful by persons sharing their faith in an historical, tradition-bearing community of faith.' (Westerhoff 19)
Reading this book sometimes frustrates me. Westerhoff suggests, as noted earlier, that the current 'schooling-instructional paradigm' is simply not effective for nurturing faith in children and youth. But exactly what the alternative is, Westerhoff doesn't really explain. Except to suggest that it is the church. The church is the place not sunday school.
So I have this idea that we should completely disband the Christian Education Committee and have every other committee carefully consider and intentionally plan how its duties and responsibilities teach the Christian faith.
So Finance would start with; what do Christians believe about money? House would discuss; How do we create a hospitable space? Deacon's would talk about what communion means. And then they would discuss how what they do nurtures faith in children, youth, and new adult Christians. Everyone would do Christian Ed instead of a committee and a team of teachers.
'tradition bearing community' that is the phrase that interests me.
Sunday School leave the tradition bearing to one committee. But as Christians we believe that every member is given by the Holy Spirit gifts that make the church the body of Christ, gifts for the good of all. It takes every member for the church to be, it must take every member for the church to nurture the faith.
Now, I'm not actually disbanding Christian Ed. I can't do that.
But I am thinking that the church needs to see 'Christian Nurture' as everyone's responsibility and not the duty of one committee. Perhaps my frustration is part of the churches frustration. We just want some new answer, when what Westerhoff is trying to tell us is that there are no easy answers. Sunday School is not the easy answer to passing the faith on to our children, because there is no one easy way to do that.
So, in trying to make sense of what Westerhoff suggests about a tradition-bearing community as opposed to a sunday school:
1. Be clear about our Christian beliefs and the Christian Practices that follow from them.
2. Find the connections between these beliefs/practices and the duties and responsibilities of the committees. Which may mean that duties need to change if they don't reflect beliefs/practices.
3. Intentionally plan projects, activities, actions, that embody beliefs/practices and achieve the responsibilities of each committee, and that include children, youth, and families in a meaningful way.
What do you think?