What is Christian Education?

This week I read a chapter from A Theology of Christian Education by Estep, Anthony, and Allen. I read chapter 25 aptly entitled, “What Makes Education Christian”. I will be framing this blog post based on four reflection questions from that chapter.

How would you have defined Christian Education before reading this chapter? What about now?

When I think about Christian Education, I think about the two ways I was formed
doing my younger parts of my Christian walk. I did not grow up in a Christian
household and the first church I attended was a very small Wesleyan church.
This church had a Christian Education department. This department was better
labeled one guy who told us all what curriculum we were going to be using. This
curriculum was a quarterly book that that Wesleyan Church HQ would put out. So,
we would spend time in a classroom setting learning about God. We would be
asked to memorize scriptures and would be given gold stars or candy for doing
so. The other aspect of my dealing with Christian Education was in my
undergraduate schooling. I attended Indiana Wesleyan University. Here I took
classes where I was taught about how to be a pastor. During these classes we
were taught more about context and how to evaluate how people learn more than
what people should learn.

So, when I think about Christian Education is it a sum total of both of these
experiences. I feel that Christian Education is both/and what we learn and
contextualizing learning to how people best learn. I now would also add a
relational component to that Christian Education journey now that I am in the
midst of ministry.

After I read that chapter What Makes Education Christian, I feel that I was not far off based upon what this chapter is trying to convey. Estep writes, “For education to be Christian in its fullest sense, it must become an integrated field of theology and social science”[1]. Social science being the
study of people and relationships along with theology being what we teach, Estep put this in words that are clearer than what my experience had already shown me.

Which do you value more or know better: theology or the social sciences? Why?

            While I approach Christian education with more of a both/and
approach, I do know that each of us typically value one of these more highly
than the other. I most likely value theology over the social sciences. I feel
that I am more of a theologian but a practical theologian. I like to teach theology
and use layman’s terms to do so. The theology of God is where we start. If
theology is not the foundation of what we are teaching, then we might as well
be teaching Math or English.

On a scale of 1 to 5, how well do you currently fulfill the above stated practical implications?

            I am going to say a 3.687, roughly. I am currently engaged or trying to keep all of these things as a part of my own Christian Education practices. The one that I feel I would fall far below average on would be writing my own theological approach to education. While I feel like I think about these ideas, I have never been so intentional as to write down my
theological approach.

What areas of improvement did this chapter evoke for you?

            The intentionality of the whole process is what evoke
something in me while reading this chapter. I really enjoyed the section on the
level of integration. This idea that we can be strategic with how people learn
and what they learn is inspiring to me. This idea makes me want to spend more
time to be intentional with why we are teaching and how we teach in relation to
who we teach. This intentionality helps me to understand what it takes to make
the most impact.


James Riley Estep Jr. A Theology of Christian Education. (B&H Publishing, Nashville,
TN, 2008). 41.

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