I often challenge Christian educators that we need to stop giving mere lip service to the importance of Christian education in our churches. It’s not enough to preach its critical importance in helping people grow in faith. It’s not enough to urge leaders to get serious about providing effective Christian education in our congregations. When it comes down to it, Christian education will never improve until resident Christian educators, pastor and staff, start functioning like real educators.
When congregational educators fail to engage in educational practices the result is that we end up “playing school” in church. That’s a way to ensure that Christian education will become benign and irrelevant in our congregations.
One fundamental function that educators perform is that of assessment. Yet, rarely do congregational educators practice on-going, rigorous, formative assessment in their settings. More often than not the reasons for planning an educational event is driven less by attention to its effectiveness or to program goals, and more by reasons like: it was on the calendar last year, people seem to like it, it draws a good crowd, it’s convenient, someone insisted on it, a donor funded it, the church down the street offers it too, the denomination is pushing it.
Here are two major areas for educational assessment:
The Planning Process: How effective is your planning process? Who are involved? What planning model do you use? What criteria guide your planning decisions?
The Budgeting Process: What guidelines are used in budget planning? Who makes budgeting decisions? Is your educational budget focused on maintenance or development? What values and priorities does your budgeting process reflect?
The Assessment Process: Does your church have a formative assessment plan and process in place? What do you assess? What criteria for the basis for your assessment? Do you assess each event periodically and formally?
Governance: Is your governance structure effective? Is your governance process open? Is your governance structure effective or a hindrance? Is there appropriate span of control? Is there built in accountability?
Programmatic: What model informs your programmatic structure? Is your programmatic structure effective and efficient? Does your programmatic structure help you realize your educational goals? Do your programs address all necessary needs? Do your programs address all population and generational needs? Is there a balance of approaches? Do you release dated and ineffective programs to make room for new ones?
Date posted: Monday, September 15th, 2008 12:05 am | Under category: assessment, Christian Education, congregational life, curriculum, leadership
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