Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Benson L. Benson and Carolyn H. Eklin, Effective Christian Education Study: A National Study of Protestant Congregations, A Summary Report on Faith, Loyalty, and Congregational Life, Search Institute, Minneapolis; March 1999
This survey done in 1998 where 11,122 persons from 561 churches from six major denominations were surveyed regarding formal Christian education as one of the aspect of congregational life with respect to faith maturity in adults and youth and their loyalty to their congregation and denomination. This enormous project yielded some fascinating results about formal and informal Christian education in a congregation.
The overall spiritual health of those surveyed (youths and adults) were not very encouraging with only a minority that can be described to be in “developed faith’. The majority would be classified as in “undeveloped faith”.
The writers of the report declares, “Christian education in a majority of congregation is a tired enterprise in need of reform. Often, out-of-touch with adult and adolescent needs, it experiences increasing difficulty in finding and motivating volunteers, faces general disinterest among its “clients,” and employs models and procedures that have changed little over time.”
While this survey pointed to the failure of the Christian education program currently being practiced in these congregations, it also identified many ways in which Christian education can be improved. The survey called this Christian education effectiveness.
Soli Deo Gloria
"We choose as one of our purposes. therefore, to look at formal Christian education as one of a number of aspects of congregational life, with the intent of evaluating its relative impact on the lives of adults and adolescent' p.2
"More than 11,000 individuals in 561 randomly chosen congregations provided in-depth, survey based data on faith, loyalty, religious biography, congregational life, and the dynamics of Christian educational programming" p.2
"(formal) Christian education includes Sunday school, church school, Bible studies, confirmation, camping, retreats, workshops, youth ministry and youth groups, children and adult choirs, auxiliaries for men and women, prayer groups, religious plays and dramas, Vacation Bible school, new member classes, and intergenerational or family events and programs" p.2-3
Eighteen Major Conclusions
" Taking Stock: Faith and Loyalty Among Adults
1. Only a minority of Protestant adults evidence the kind of integrated, vibrant, and life-encompassing faith congregations seek to develop. For most adults, faith is underdeveloped, lacking some of the key elements necessary for faith maturity.
2. Maturity of faith is strongly linked to age, increasing with each successive decade, nd is most likely to be found among those over 70.
3. In every age group from the 30's on,, women exhibit greater faith maturity than men.
4. While most adult report strong loyalty to their congregation and denomination, loyalty is less evident among those in the 20-39 and 40-59 age ranges than among those 60 or older.
Taking Stock: Faith and Loyalty Among Youth
5. A majority of adolescents fall into the faith type called "underdeveloped faith". Faith is least well formed among 9th grade and 10th grade boys.
[Boys appear to :backslide’ in the 9th and 19th grade…For girls, “backsliding”, though not as pronounced as for boys, occurs in the 11th and 12th grades p.23]
6. Less than two-thirds of adolescents express high denominational or congregational loyalty.
7. In each of the six denominations, a majority of adolescents evidence one or more at risk indicators (eg, chemical use, depression). Most youth report that congregational place little emphasis on chemical or sexuality education.
The Power of Christian Education
8. In examining the religious biographies of youth, the two experiences most associated with higher faith maturity are the level of family religiousness and the amount of exposure of Christian education.
9. In examining the religious biography of adults, one of the two lifetime experiences most associated with higher faith maturity is the amount of exposure to Christian education.
10. Regarding the impact of congregational life on faith maturity, the congregational factor most associated with helping people grow in faith maturity is the degree of effectiveness in Christian education programming. This finding is true for both of youth and adults.
11. Effectiveness in Christian education is also associated wit greater denominational and congregational loyalty. This finding is true for both of youth and adults.
12. Effective Christian educational is an important for the faith development of adults as for is for youth.
13. Only about 3 out of 20 mainline Protestant high school students (grades 10-12) and adults are actively involve in Christian education. This finding, along with evidence of common biographical deficits in religious socialization, helps to explain the lack of faith maturity commonly found among adults and adolescents.
The Nature of Christian Educational Effectiveness
14. Effective education for you requires particular kinds of process, content, leadership, and administrative foundations.
15. Many of these effectiveness factors for youth are lacking in a large percentage of congregations.
16. As is the case for youth, effective education methods for adults requires a range of definable processes, content, and administrative ingredients.
17. Many of these effectiveness factors are for adults are lacking in a large percentage of congregations.
18. The more a congregations embodies these Christian effectiveness factors, the greater the growth in faith by youth and adults, and the greater loyalty to congregation and denomination." p.3-4
Project methods p.5-7
1988, in-depth surveys were done
The Nature of Christian Education Effectiveness p.53-54
“Christian education in a majority of congregation is a tired enterprise in need of reform. Often, out-of-touch with adult and adolescent needs, it experiences increasing difficulty in finding and motivating volunteers, faces general disinterest among its “clients,” and employs models and procedures that have changed little over time.” P.58
Reflections on Change p.65-66
"treat, heal, and comfort always"
"spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"
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