Christian Education for Church Growth

by Rev. Dr. Homer Wesley O. Refuerzo


“The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Such was the dramatic growth of the early church. I believe that this was the result of the different approaches that Jesus’ disciples employed in their ministry of Christian nurture.

In their book, Contemporary Approaches to Christian Education, Jack Seymour and Donald Miller enumerate the varied ways and different settings we educate persons in the Christian faith. Acts 2:42-47 describes how the early church modeled these approaches effectively.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (v. 42). This is the religious instruction approach. Sunday school, Bible Study, training seminars and conferences which are done in structured settings, encourage persons to know what and why they believe—biblical teachings and Christian doctrines.

They devoted themselves to prayer (v. 42) and everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts (v. 46). This is the spiritual development approach—the mentoring for spiritual development. Christian education does not only produce good boys and good girls who are decent and proper. More importantly, the objective is to nurture their spirits and become mature Christians.

They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (v. 46).This is the community of faith approach—persons learn how to live the Christian life through the lifestyle of the faith community. As is commonly said: “Values are not taught but caught.” The congregation becomes the teacher where the practice of the spiritual disciplines of worship, fellowship, witness and servce are demonstrated.

All the believers had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need (vv.44-45). This is the liberation approach to Christian education. People are freed from selfishness in order to participate in the humanization of all persons through social justice. “To each according to one’s need, from each according to one’s ability.”

We all wish Filipino United Methodist Churches to experience tremendous growth—in faithfulness, fellowship, service, even in numbers. I strongly believe that we can learn much more from the Christian education approaches of the early Church.

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