The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

May 6, 2009

Education as Meeting

If you ask almost any adult about the impact of church school on his her growth, he or she will not tell you about books or curriculum or Bible stories or anything like that. The central memory is of the teacher, learning is meeting. That poses problems for the characteristically American way of thinking about education for competence even in the church.

Meeting never made anybody competent. Surely we need competence, unless we mean to dismantle much of our made world. But our business is not competence. It is meeting. We are learning slowly and late that education for competence without education as meeting promises us deadly values and scary options.

And anyway, one can’t become “competent” in morality or in Bible stories. But one can have life-changing meetings that open one to new kinds of existence. And that surely is what church education is about.
(Walter Brueggemann, Living Toward a Vision, pp. 167,168)

Christian education is not primarily about content. It is about connection. Education happens when the student listens to the deepest truth and reality within, leading to an awareness of the student’s connection to God. To teach is to be willing to know and be known. We educate by listening, by opening to the student, entering the student’s world with sensitivity and compassion.

There are so many places in the world that focus on product, on creating skilled workers able to perform specific tasks. In the church, we do not aim to produce a product. We aim to create space for transformation. We desire to make room for each person in the community to experience the Spirit of God at work in their lives.

This is a gift we can give to one another simply by being willing to be in the space of God’s presence together. As we open, a new reality is created between us and in that reality the truth of God is found. Anyone can do this. All that is required is a willingness to trust and open.

The skills of godly education are gentleness, patience, honesty, deep listening, openness, and respect for God’s work in every person. These skills grow in the fertile soil of surrender. The willingness to surrender to God creates an environment where we are able to meet one another without judgment or agenda. In that meeting we discover that we more deeply meet the source of love and light known to us in Jesus.

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