Church as Teacher


Church as Teacher

Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my highest priorities, as a parent, has been providing my children with a good education. My parents instilled in me the importance of education and being a lifetime learner, which I in turn have passed on to my children.

This month as we have been celebrating our oldest daughter's graduation from college and our youngest daughter's completion of an associate’s degree and acceptance into her desired four year school, I have spent a good deal of time thinking about my girls' educations.

I am deeply grateful for the academic experiences that they have had thus far. These experiences have helped them develop discipline, commitment, intellectual curiosity, and a deep love for learning. Yet, I am also mindful and deeply grateful that much of what they have learned and developed as essential life skills and core values came first from being a part of the Church.

This struck me as I went back and read both of their college essays. Within their essays, they spoke of the ways the church had formed them. I was in awe as I was reminded of the powerful education our children and youth can and will receive if they are a part of a church. Certainly, Sunday School and Confirmation may be a part of it, but I am referring more to the life lessons and belief systems that will emerge when children and youth are active members of the body of Christ.

Here are some of the things my girls learned by being a part of church.

In the church…

  • they learned how to relate to people of different ages. In school and in their extracurricular activities they only met and associated with their peers, but in church they met and associated with people of different ages. They learned how to respect their elders, as well as how to talk to them and relate to them.
  • they learned how to relate to people with disabilities. They became comfortable around and befriended persons with downs syndrome, Asperger's, autism, cerebral palsy, as well as those with visual or auditory impairments.
  • they learned how to look beyond disabilities and see people who were not much different than them.

In the church, they learned about diversity, acceptance, inclusion, and unconditional love. They came to know people of different races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. They came to know people who were shy, awkward, and socially backward. They learned all were beloved children of God, beautiful, and worthy of love.

  • they learned about sympathy, compassion, and empathy. They saw the pain people experienced when they lost a loved one. They felt the heart ache when someone was being mistreated. They understood how the world was not always fair, but Christ calls us to be.
  • they learned to give of themselves. They learned how to work hard not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others. They discovered the joy of giving, of making an impact, and in changing people's lives.
  • they learned there were people who were suffering and in great need. They learned there are great injustices in the world. They learned they had a responsibility and a moral obligation to do something to help. They learned that doing something, however small, with great love could make a big impact.
  • they learned Jesus was real. They understood Jesus' teachings and commands were hard to follow. They understood that often Jesus can be found in those around you and in the people you least expect.

I am deeply grateful for what my girls have learned in the church and what they will continue to learn in the years to come. I pray that we, as a collective voice, will remind parents, grandparents and families what our children and youth can learn when they are a part of the church. The education they can receive in the church is invaluable and worth the investment.

Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister