Tag Archives: Education

Terry Smith: Using Google Without Getting Lost

by Terry M. Smith

Pastors Mike Funk and Garry Koop are thoughtful people with a genuine concern. Put another way: when it comes to Christian Education in our churches, is the EMC at risk of getting lost on Google?

Mike Funk, when a youth pastor at Ridgewood EMC, wanted to see the EMC develop a Sunday School curriculum that would be standard across our churches. Garry Koop, senior pastor at Steinbach EMC, recently sought to develop a Sunday School curriculum based on our EMC Statement of Faith to serve a range of ages. Both have sound desires as pastors: to assist our churches in Sunday School.

The Internet allows EMC pastors to search out all sorts of materials. Our leaders will evaluate and use them as they see fit. The EMC can no more compete with all that’s available there than our few offerings for sale can compete with what’s on Amazon. Yet something is missing if a person listens to an online sermon instead of sitting in a congregation; something else is missed if materials specifically designed for our churches are overlooked.

We can’t produce a lot of materials, but this makes the ones developed more significant. The reality is that from idea to completion, a Sunday School quarterly could take two to three years to complete; and this does not begin to cover a range of ages (nor provide a new quarterly for a few months down the road or next year). The EMC is too small to cover all of its bases—in people power, time, and finances.

Recognising this, we assist churches in three ways: we develop occasional materials, suggest where Anabaptist materials might be found, and recommend that pastors and teachers adjust the materials they use to reflect Evangelical Anabaptist concerns.

As for quarterly materials, working with the CMC and EMMC, the EMC recently produced Holy Wanderings: A Guide to Deeper Discipleship (2019) and a new baptismal/membership guide Living in God’s Kingdom (2016). By the way, The Christian Life: A Practical Study Guide remains available, and has been updated in 2019, for leaders and churches who prefer it. Earlier, in 2006, the EMC produced Follow Me: Exploring More of Our Calling as Christians; the material remains relevant and free copies are available. How much of this material has your church used?

terry-smith
Terry M. Smith

For wider sources of Anabaptist materials, pastors and Sunday School superintendents might check out materials produced by MennoMedia, Christian Light Publications, and The Meeting House (the BICC mega-church in Ontario). Fort Garry EMC has produced materials on our ancient-modern faith.

As for recommending that pastors and teachers adjust the materials they use to reflect Evangelical Anabaptist concerns, in the end the decision is made by the leaders. Individual churches and the conference as a whole place a great deal of trust in our leaders’ abilities to discern and sift. We do this within a framework of a shared Statement of Faith and a commitment to work together as a conference. May the Lord guide us well.

Irene Kroeker: Let’s Be Careful What We Teach Children!

At age seven I went to school every day, hoping my teacher would tell us how to get to heaven. I was obsessed with my need of forgiveness. I got some help at age 13. When I was 14, my uncle explained John 1:12. That was my turning point.

I have struggled with salvation and its teachings to children for almost a lifetime. I don’t want others to go through this the hard way or be oblivious to it altogether.

In 1972 I taught Religion Class in a school where I was teaching south of Winkler, Man. I remember the day I agonized before God, asking Him, “How can I get to the level of my Grade 2 to 4 students in order for them to understand my faith?”

The next morning I opened my Bible Story Book for our daily reading. It was the story of Jesus blessing the children and saying unless we have the faith of a little child, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. I was hit so hard I could hardly read.

That left a permanent mark on my heart. I revised the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) content of what I was using in Religion Class. But I was still very oblivious to the “eternal security” position in it right till last year (2016) when I read Dr. Harvey Plett’s article on Children in the Church, which he sent me when I asked for help.

That is when my eyes were really opened. I agree that little children are in the Kingdom and should not be talked or scared into it. They are not lost, but safe in Jesus till the age of accountability, which differs from child to child.

I talked to a Grandma whose four-year-old grandson asked Jesus into his heart.  Because of my new understanding, I could rejoice with her and warn her of the need for many commitments and re-commitments ahead.

From Oct. 19 to Dec. 8, 2016, I taught little children, mostly ages four to six, in a new outreach area of our church. Again, I needed the truths of that article in my lesson prep and teaching. I had a CEF flannelgraph that I used carefully.

I checked up in my home church as to what material the Sunday School teachers are using with the young children. I found out they use the CEF flannelgraph, much to my delight. I think it is important, though, for teachers to be informed of our theology on children and salvation. If they are not, is this not cause for deep concern?

Irene-Kroeker
Irene Kroeker

A good teacher will repeat an important teaching and come at it from various angles and perspectives. I requested that Dr. Harvey Plett’s article on the spiritual status of children be reprinted. We need to hear it again.

Irene Kroeker (Rosenort EMC) has served as a missionary in Mexico and serves in various ways within her local church.

Note: Dr. Harvey Plett’s two-part series on the spiritual status of children appears in March and April.