9/20/15 - Things Have Changed: and it keeps happening!
I’m not that old! I’ve just got a lot of miles. I keep telling myself that I’m not old but things are not what they used to be. I’ve changed. It seems to be a part of life. Things change.
Not every change is bad. In my first church, we didn’t have a copier. If I needed anything copied I would have to walk down the street to the lawyers office. Looking back over the last 35 years of ministry I am amazed at all the things that are different. The other day I was driving through an area where I went hunting when I was growing up. Today it is the new home of Atlanta Braves. As I looked over it I thought to myself, “Things have changed in the last 45 years but can you imagine what this place will be like in the next 50 years?”
I find myself thinking about the Church in the next 50 years. I do pray for the Lord to hurry and come back! I also understand that God is in control of that calendar and His time will be the right time. But if the Lord does tarry, what will the Church be like in 50 years? Specifically what will Christian Education look like in the future?
None of us have all the answers but I’m sure that we can learn for each other. I’m looking forward to the 2016 Georgia Baptist Association of Christian Educators (GBACE) gathering on Thursday January 21st. Our theme will be SHIFT. We’ve got to think outside the box if we are going to reach and teach the world in which we live. Dr. Thom Rainer will be our keynote speaker and I can’t think of anyone else that understands current trends more than Dr. Rainer.
I will be leading a roundtable discussion on the topic of “The Changing Role of Christian Education Ministry”. What are the tipping points that you and your church are experiencing or will experience in the future? In this round table discussion the participating Christian Educators will share what they are experiencing and learn from each other. Do some research and come prepared to discuss those trends that are changing Christian education ministry.
As I prepare for this roundtable discussion, I came across an essay in Faith & Leadership, by L. Gregory Jones and Nathan Jones in which they describe seven deep trends affecting Christian institutions. I’ve adapted their list and have developed some thoughts that will guide our discussion in January. See my notes below and plan to come prepared to join in the discussion.
1- The technology craze and the digital revolution.
a. The way people connect socially has changed and impacted the depth of
b. The way people learn and are trained has changed.
2- Socioeconomic and ethnic diversity.
a. The freedom of movement, travel and the Internet have removed
b. The method of missions and where we do them has changed.
3- The term “typical American church” has become increasingly unintelligible.
a. This has forced denominations to restructure.
b. There are new forms of congregating emerging, such as satellite, multi-site
and franchise churches.
4- The lack of positive confidence in churches and other religious institutions.
a. Culture is very questioning of institutions, not just churches or
b. The traditional church is viewed negatively. It seems to hinder
advancement in missions and evangelism.
5- The economic stress on Christian organizations is at an all time high.
a. The combination of broader global economic fragility, rising health care
and pension costs, and the relatively small size of many Christian
institutions has resulted in tremendous economic stress.
b. There have been significant shifts in the habits of regular contributors
c. It is more tempting to try to keep the ship from sinking than to develop
new strategies to ensure that we don’t miss what the boat has to offer.
6- The increasing demands or options for laypeople’s resources.
a. People are working more.
b. People are doing more; such as leisure travel or children’s athletics.
c. The church will resemble less an organization to which people come and
more a body involved in the world, and clergy will serve more as enablers
than as creators.
7- The growth and lure of cities.
a. In 100 years, the world’s population has gone from 30% living in cities to
b. Smaller rural churches are feeling the impact as well with fewer and fewer
c. Cities have always been a breeding ground for social ills.
The challenge, they write, “is to cultivate patterns of discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit, on how to adapt faithfully and creatively to them rather than to pretend they don’t exist or to acknowledge but ignore them.” Please join me as we seek to better understand the changes but also to begin learning how to respond.
Dr. Tim S. Smith
Sunday School/Small Groups Specialist
Georgia Baptist Convention
I have found that responding to the call to minister to children and their families is a task that is full of responsibility, yet provides abundant blessings. I cannot imagine doing anything else and missing how God works in and through the lives of children and their families. There seems to be this constant need to search for ways to ensure that children are learning about the plan that God has for their lives and that they are learning in a safe and nurturing environment. As I watch the diverse challenges that too many children face, challenges that were unheard of not so many years ago, I continue to be amazed at how God works in the lives of these children.
I do not believe that I am the only one who reviews their ministry and wonders what else can be done to reach the children in my church and community. I cannot be the only one that wants to do more to partner with parents so that spiritual learning continues at home. There are so many areas of my ministry that I evaluate and pray that it is the best it can be. In fact, I would probably drive myself crazy except that I learned something the hard way many years ago. No church or ministry is perfect. There are challenges and room for improvement in every ministry. I learned that it is so important not to become isolated in my ministry, but to reach out to other children’s ministers to find encouragement and fresh ideas. Through connections to other children’s ministers I found that I am not alone in this crazy world of children’s ministry; I have made long lasting friendships, found and offered support, and have learned from peers.
GBACE provides a place to meet other children's ministers and form lasting relationships that can offer support in ministry and on a personal level. You can connect with others who face many of the same challenges that you do. You can find affirmation that you are making the difference in the lives of the children and families that you tirelessly serve. Each year there is an intentional effort to provide training that is specific for children’s ministers in breakout sessions. GBACE also provides an opportunity for you to connect with other age group ministers, many of whom are working with the same families that we serve each week.
Director of Children's Education
Macland Baptist Church
4/13/15 - We’re Walking This Road Together
Christian educators in the state of Georgia face constant change and overload. Change from an ever-shifting culture and overload from a never ending list of ministerial responsibilities. Our work is never done. The emails keep coming, the cell phone keeps ringing, and another meeting is on the schedule. This is not a new occurrence. CE’s have faced these challenges for years. Being a member of GBACE helps us to see that we are not alone on this journey of faith and ministry. We are in this “thing” called education ministry together. We are committed to supporting and learning from each other. We serve one God who cares about us daily.
I hope you will mark your calendar now for our next annual meeting, January 21, 2016. Under the theme, “SHIFT”, we will be challenged to adapt, improvise, move, change, and think differently as we seek to spread the gospel to a rapidly changing culture. Don’t miss the chance to hear Dr. Thom Rainer and to fellowship with fellow CE’s who share your commitment and passion for ministry.
Associate Pastor of Education/Program Ministries
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church