In-built learning dynamic of church – or not

This quote from Roger Walton about Christian education landed on my desk today. I thought it was worth sharing because it says well that the organisation, system and church of which we are members is already a learning and teaching organisation before any training courses are ever thought of. We are learning all the time. We flourish and engage if the organisation is working well, but we shy away or shrink in an organisation that is not working well at a relational level. Some estimates suggest that as much as 80% happens informally, and that only 20% occurs through formal training. Canadian researcher Allen Tough uses the idea of the iceberg as a metaphor about learning. The bit above the surface is the formal training situation in which some learning happens, but the rest is under the surface. “You just don’t see it. You could forget it’s there unless you keep reminding yourself that it’s there.”

“Stanley Hauerwas once wrote: ‘The church does not “do” religious education…..The church is a form of education.’  Because it is a group of people in relationship with God through Christ, because it tells a story about how the world is, based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, because it is engaged in living together as a radical new and alternative community, it has a built-in pedagogical dynamic…….
This is not an excuse for not planning or running programmes or courses…..It is important, however, to make this broader claim about Christian education before turning to specific suggestions and ideas or we may miss the most critical aspect of Christian education.  Before any Alpha course is put on, small group is formed, or Lent programme devised, Christian education is operating in a church, either attracting, forming and transforming people or leaving them untouched, unengaged or even driven away…
In its practice of gathering together for worship and ordering its life, in its people and their relationships with each other, in its simple routines for sharing bread and wine, welcoming newcomers or using its financial resources, in the quality of spirituality and its expressions of compassion, forgiveness and delight, it offers a potent learning environment.”
Roger Walton, The Reflective Disciple (2009, Epworth) pp158 – 9

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