WORLDVIEW AND EDUCATION MINISTRY
This paper identifies the worldview concept, the Christian worldview, and the biblical worldview in the cultural context of the Education Ministry in the church. Modern-day tent-makers and missionaries, especially coming from the Philippines, make-up majority of the congregation of Filipino-International churches in Bangkok. The education programs have a mixed audience with regards to affinity, age, spiritual maturity, religious backgrounds, and worldviews. This paper attempts to increase the effectiveness of the education ministry by improving the way the leaders strategize and think for the congregation to have a biblical worldview.
Applying Worldview Methodology to My Ministry
How worldview has permeated the Christian congregation
Believers in the church are coming from various backgrounds and cultures. Stories from these cultures passed on to them form their values, worldview, and belief system that they bring to the church. Therefore, the framework of their mind mixes the unbiblical and the biblical influence as they build their own families, disciple, and lead others – these stories and values are passed on as they do ministry. Although education ministry educates the believers in the church, their constant and daily exposures to stories outside the church, in their offices and as they interact with the world and their environment are factors that continue to influence, affect, and shape them. Since the very nature and direction of man after the fall is towards idolatry, the education ministry strives to lead man’s direction towards God and godliness.
Existing Undercurrent of Worldview in the Church
Many churches in the Philippines consciously and unconsciously practice dualism, and since there are numerous overseas Filipino workers in Bangkok, this contributes to its dominance in churches. The influence of existentialism because of a Buddhism background for Thai believers poses another challenge in the Education ministry especially on how the Thais perceive biblical truths. Added to this dilemma is the accuracy of their Thai Bible translation. International churches in Bangkok are melting pots of cultures and worldviews – Filipinos, Thais, and various nationalities complete the churches’ statistics.
How could the Education Ministry in Christian Churches deal with deeply ingrained religious practices of their congregation? How could the church distinguish the daily practices evidencing deep entanglements of unbiblical worldviews in the believers? How can Christ be formed in them without compromising and forcing Him to co-habituate in their hearts with their former idols?
Influence of Dualism to those Whom Church Leaders Minister
The majority of the congregation is from a Catholic background. Their binary vision is evident as they segregate what is sacred from what is secular. They view the leaders as having a holier walk and a greater anointing in any church tasks assigned. The members still carry the model and attitude on how they regard the priests, the pope, and other religious leaders of Catholicism. This is the paradigm operating among the learners in church education programs.
Spiritualizing Dualism in the Christian Church
A spiritual form of dualism is being practiced in the church. This concept has taken many forms which seem to have escaped the eyes of well-meaning and sincere leaders. The dualistic spirituality, according to (author forgotten ways), is a mindset that must be overcome. One way is through discipleship which should aim to bind together all domains of life under Christ’s ruler-ship. All creation must be unified under God. 1 Cor. 10:31 (New Living Translation)
When what is wrong seems to be right
Dualism in Thai Christians may still be present where they unconsciously convert Thai rituals and practices and Christianize them. Consider the scenario in the car of a Thai Christian. Suddenly, the road becomes uneven. A necklace, with a cross made of pearls, hanging on her rear view mirror, begins swaying. Automatically, she reaches out with her left hand to stop the cross from moving, while continuing with her driving. It seems this practice resembles Buddhist taxi drivers who reach out for their religious items hanging on their rear view mirror when negotiating rough roads in Bangkok. These are given by monks as a lucky charm; a clear picture of their old idolatrous, religious practice being translated and being imported into Christianity.
An evidence of dualism among Christian and Catholic churches is the concept of consecrated service to God. Such practice elevates the clergy from the lay and considers the secular and sacred as two irreconcilable spheres. In his book, The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch identifies the destructive power of dualism. He mentions that the “church” has become instrumental in mediating between two spheres. What is the problem with dualism? It divides the church and results in interactionism where we treat secular and sacred as two different spheres. It is causative to the sacred failing to affect the secular.
How the Concept of Worldview Can Transform the Education Ministry
Areas of the Christian worldview that might be improved
The education ministry must not be lax on dualism, the philosophical system that seeks to explain all phenomena in terms of two distinct, irreconcilable, and irreducible principles. It separates into two spheres what should be a unified whole.
How the Influence of Dualism Might be overcome in the Education Ministry
To overcome this worldview, the Education Ministry needs to correctly identify elements in the church that are currently supporting a dualistic worldview. It needs to target and address the lessons in practical ways that the members can apply in their daily lives. The members and workers need to be made aware of the embedded practices from their previous religious backgrounds. Church liturgies also play an active role in accomplishing these.
Removing the demarcation line between secular and sacred serving
What is the proposed solution? Removing the separation between church-related activities and culture-related activities and fusing these two aspects to eliminate dualism in the church. All aspects of man’s activities can glorify God. There should not be a distinction between secular and sacred.
Applications on how to help the church
How can leaders correctly identify the wrong perception of the congregation especially among the church volunteers and workers? How are worldviews and unbiblical Christian worldviews corrected? What is the contingency approach to dualism in the church?
Perspicacity is a cognitive activity. What is influencing how a person perceives things around him? How does one interpret and what are the implications of his interpretations? How can they be dealt with correctly in every education class?
The role of the church in helping the people is to provide pastoral leadership in various forms and to shepherd the flock. The following practical approaches will be done:
1) Focusing on the affective aspect: The focus of the Education Ministry is more on the cognitive and information input neglecting the affective aspect. They should include in their annual planning training on how to apply methods to re-direct the loves of the people and making adjustments with its teaching approach. Two important skills would be using the question and answer approach to surface the desires of the members and using story-telling skills to change the desires and values of the congregation. The worldview of the members change and is moved in the opposite direction from idolatry towards godliness when their desires are affected. The expected outcome is an evident alteration of outward behavior. Mere teaching does not complete the process of spiritual formation in a believer. The leaders through the education ministry should improve their skills of surfacing what is ultimately important to the members and should teach addressing the cognitive.
2) Identifying two major worldviews that must be addressed: Strong worldview influence from Catholic belief and existentialism from Buddhism belief, affect the spheres where the church members interact daily. Therefore, lessons in their weekly one-on-one discipleship should include biblical input. The mentor needs to build a good relationship first to be able to speak into the life of the member. Completing the requirement to meet weekly must not be the only focus of discipleship and bible study groups. Instead, the believer must have customized weekly lessons to ensure that the hearts of the members grasp what was taught.
3) Training the teachers to contextualize learning in a local ministry context: The approach of the Education Ministry will be customized to the special needs of the different cultures in the audience. The congregation has certain practices they adapted and has introduced to the church community. Ideally, the Education Ministry should have teaching leaders who are from the marketplace, laymen, clergy, and other various spheres. Their specializations, knowledge, and skills allow diverse ministerial contexts. These enable them to use appropriate strategies in their specific contexts. This mixture provides an advantage for the congregational study methods of the education ministry. As diverse groups of teachers provide various disciplines in Bible education, the teaching-learning method becomes contextualized. This study approach prepares the members to serve, tailored to their actual situations. The teachers should not teach bringing their own Christian worldview; instead, they will be trained and formed to impart a biblical worldview. To be more effective, the ministry should be done in the context of culture, since the church is working with people.
Why is it important to regularly train and re-train the trainers? Missional DNAs like the natural DNA will naturally replicate itself. If the trainers (leaders) are not Biblically oriented, they will produce and pass-on the same wrong perception. Believers have the tendency to view leaders as inerrant. They do not have the automatic ability, skill, and discernment to screen what is being shared with them.
4) Overcoming communication barriers: Teachers and church leaders use communication and speech as tools to deliver their message and the biblical truth. They are aware of communication barriers. The interpretation of the listener may be faulty as the teacher shares a lesson depending on his perception influenced by his past experiences, culture, or religion.
The believer with a Catholic background may have discipleship problems. As he undergoes a new believer’s class, he may be offended since he does not consider himself a new believer anymore. As a pre-believer, he acknowledges God. His previous doctrine has many similarities with Christianity. Reflection papers will be used to determine the accuracy of learning and comprehension during discipleship, training, and workshops.
5) Guiding their decision-making, thinking, and living to have a Biblical worldview: Themed activities like Love Month can be maximized to show how biblical truths can guide believers in decision-making. Skits display the worldview that Christians still practice. Members have the chance to air their questions through panel discussions and avoid one-way input. These help increase awareness and equip the people since exposure to the world guarantees intellectual pressures.
6) Correcting the core of a believer by defining their loves: The core of a believer can only be addressed and corrected by the Holy Spirit, according to Mohler which was supported by Smith. The Education Ministry needs to move the direction of the believer’s heart to godliness; although, the natural bend of man is towards idolatry. One of the ways of changing the direction of the heart towards godliness from idolatry is through the church worship. Workshop for the worship team should include songs that relay and nurture kingdom expectation. The level of the anticipation of believers for the coming kingdom should be increased.
More story-telling approach and testimonials will be used to address the need of re-directing the desires of the learners, according to Wolters. These are powerful tools to convince the mind and influence the desires of the people. The teachers need to be trained and be aware of the mission and objective of every teaching session which is not only to implant seeds of truth; the objective is to re-orient the telos of the church members. The leader needs to be tenacious in using the narrative approach and other methodologies, especially with the congregational study method. It is not enough to know the truth; the heart must embrace and decide to be for it.
7) Providing Bible seminars on practical living: Conduct life management seminars that will focus on handling finances, health management, and a healthier lifestyle, among others-these aids in incorporating the other spheres of the members’ lives. Appropriate scriptures should be used and combined with other teaching approaches.
8) Empowering the next generation of leaders: Training the student group, the young professionals, and adult professionals to help them realize that placement in the marketplace is a vocation from God as well. At an early age, they should be trained to focus on evidencing the kingdom and not only preaching the gospel on their campuses. The young and adult professional groups should also have their paradigm adjusted and become cultural restorers by educating the flock on influencing their spheres outside the church. Whatever profession one has, whether they are professionals or home-makers, their vocations have eternal value for God. 1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17 (New Living Translation) During leadership, departments, and ministry training, this truth can be incorporated. The church should teach a holistic view of the Christian life in Bible Conferences and other classes through seminars where believers see God in their daily activities.
9) Evangelism and Missions training using a different face: In the past, third world countries and unreached places are mission targets of churches. Modern-day missions have evolved. The first world countries now have become the mission points, nations that deny the existence of God. Thus, the entrance of gospel in these countries has become more challenging. This result is one of the post-Christianity trends mentioned by Mark Laing, author of Forgotten Ways. The Education Ministry should provide appropriate Mission training on evangelism approach for Market Place missionaries. The ministry should equip tent-makers on the view of the naturalist. If these marketplace ministers become equipped with the missional DNA, like cells according to Laing, they will self-replicate. More believers in the business spheres will be fulfilling the cultural mandate for God’s image bearers.
10) Communicating creation, fall, redemption, and the new creation truth: Topics for divided seminars and church classes will include the creation, fall, redemption, and the new creation. In the book Forgotten Ways, the church needs to re-envision itself as a missionary movement instead of being an institution, to recover the believers’ lost imagination of the church. It suggests on habits or acting out new paradigms, instead of thinking out new actions. Believers are to follow the Hebrew way of thinking not adopt the Greek mindset.
11) Using case study, analysis, and dissecting a generated situation: These methods aim to elicit the underlying Christian worldview. Each activity aims to train and familiarize the participants on how to analyze worldviews through deep inquiry. It is necessary to keep asking ‘why’ questions to probe the deeper layer of the believer’s views. The group may have 3 to 4 maximum participants. The buddy strategy trains the participant how to think, how to process, and how to identify undertones. Trainees develop skill in identifying the details and undertones. An individual presentation will enable the teacher to see the progress of his student (on understanding, ability, and the change to a biblical worldview).
The education ministers must learn to listen with depth and perceive underlying tones in the Christian view of the members. “Mission Dei” and the “new creation” should be the new vision for the church. Lessons should be intentional aiming to sift the heart values of the believer. Worldview determines our life value system and what we value the highest.
The education ministry can be one of the tools to re-calibrate the hearts of the people in the church. True and deep learning occurs through personal experiences. Stories will be used in the character and spiritual formation of believers to counter world stories attempting to reform their hearts. One of the main methods this ministry should begin to apply is to reach deeper than the intellectual level of the congregation. Re-train their hearts and mind to the biblical lessons they can glean from their experiences. The education ministry of the church can help move the people to want the coming kingdom described in Revelations chapter 21 verse 4. One of the objectives of the education ministry is to target that the people embrace biblical worldviews and reflect God in their daily lives through actions that are centered on Scriptures. Their daily life-decisions and actions will be automatic – towards biblical principles and truth. The ministry strives to paint a biblical vision of the scriptures, train their imaginations, and motivate the believers to pursue it instead of the opposing forces (of sin, the enemy, and the world) that try to form them to its mold. Summing the effort of this ministry, the people will be seen ultimately loving God, thinking biblically, and becoming like the One whom they worship, serve, and know.