In my previous post, focus was given to answering the questions, why do we make our students take bible classes and identifying the purpose of our bible departments.
In this post, we will briefly examine and answer the remaining three questions and then identify best practices for schools that have defined and are measuring spiritual maturity in the context of equipping students to connect truth.
As a reminder, our first two guiding questions are:
- Why does your bible department exist?
- How does your school define spiritual maturity?
I encourage you to take a moment and write down your answer to question number two. Then without showing or sharing your answer with anyone, go into your teacher’s lounge and ask three or four random teachers to give their responses to the question.
Do your answers match?
If you are like the majority of schools that I work with then the answer will be no. It’s amazing to me how many Christian schools exist without ever defining their deliverable.
Can you imagine if any other major company sat down and said, we are going to be the best at what we do and excellence is going to be one of our trademark values, but then failed to identify their product?
How can we call ourselves Christian schools without clearly identifying our product? And if our teachers and administrators are unable to articulate our product, then how can we expect our students to know what it is that they are aiming for?
According to Ephesians 4:11-15, our God given job description as Christ-centered teachers is to “equip students to reflect Christ.” Period.
And according to Ephesians 5:1-2 and plenty of other references, spiritual maturity is when we reflect Christ, and it is the job of a teacher to equip students for the purpose.
In my school we make it clear to every single student that the purpose of our bible department is to equip students to reflect Christ. It is the vision of our bible department that 10 years after they graduate our students will be reflecting Christ in their circles of influence.
This means that we need to ensure that every student is equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills to graduate and continue to grow over the course of the next 10 years to achieve our vision and accomplish our purpose.
It is a shared mission and vision between teacher and student and it is the golden thread that drives everything that we do.
Our third question that was introduced in the last post was; “How does your school measure spiritual transformation, success and spiritual health, and then differentiate to meet the needs of students at various stages in the process?”
At Wheaton Academy, where I teach, we do our best to follow Christ’s model for assessment and differentiation by implementing our best understanding of His scope and sequence in order to maximize student understanding at each stage in the process of growth.
To do this we ensure that each student can:
- Identify a clear, measurable definition of spiritual maturity.
- Identify a clear Christ-centered path with specific steps for growth.
- Know what is expected of them at each step in the process of growth.
- Clearly identify spiritual needs and growth barriers at each step in this process.
- Utilize an accurate assessment tool to examine their own hearts and to inform their spiritual growth.
Over the past few years, we have had members of our team flying around the world sharing these principles and how they are practically implemented in our context, but on February 27th, 2015 we will be hosting The Engaged Schools Conference in Carol Stream, Illinois.
The conference called, Beyond the Walls; Equipping students to leave school without leaving their faith, will train you and your team to understand and implement the Christ-centered principles in your school as well as the best practices that have been learned over the past five years.
You can also learn more through numerous resources that we have made available on The Engaged Schools Initiative website including the opportunity to take a look at the scope and sequence and learn more about the assessments.
The last question that was introduced in the previous blog post was, “who are you connected to and aligned with as part of a local and national professional network?”
I think that what organizations like CACE, CCEI and others are implementing to connect Christian school leaders and teachers are great steps. Personally, my passion is a bit narrower. My passion is to see Bible teachers trained, equipped and connected.
That is the reason for the existence of The Engaged Schools Initiative and for the upcoming Beyond the Wall Conference, but it is also the reason that we give away all of our teachers resources for our scope and sequence for free to our partner schools. Because we recognize the value of community and the truth that none of us are as smart as all of us.
For that reason, a little over a year ago, we created a private online community for Bible teachers from around the world who are teaching the Christ-centered scope and sequence to build relationships and share best practices online. It’s also why the day before the conference all of our partner teachers from schools around the world will be gathering in private round tables to build relationships and to learn and return from each other.
It’s also why The Engaged Schools Initiative has just partnered with Joshua Expeditions to provide the opportunity for Bible teachers from Christian schools around the world to spend 10 days building community and learning with each other in Greece next summer.
Our vision is that through these relational building and learning events that we will continue to build local, national and international friendships and partnerships for collaboration and support among bible teachers around the world. Literally, a movement of Christ-centered teachers trained to equip a generation of students to reflect Christ.
Let us know if you are interested in joining the trip to Greece next summer and consider this your invitation to join the movement.