Dear praying friends:
I just wrote letters asking for references and filled out paperwork ordering college transcripts for the Christian education position in Western Yearly Meeting. I do not know if I am exactly what they are looking for, but I do know that I have some ideas about what this job should entail. It would be fair to say that I have a rather idealist view of what a Yearly Meeting should do in terms of Christian Education.
1. We need to recognize that Christian Education is necessary. Friends are not lead by clergy, but by ordinary people. Our only line of defense against every heresy that might come our way is our local members exercising wisdom and judging for themselves. If Christian Education fails, we will lose stability and follow the world’s selfish values instead of the principles of Christian love.
2. We need to recognize that no one outgrows Christian education. Everyone still has something to learn — if we appoint elders, or clerks, or Sunday School teachers who have stopped learning, then we set a limit of how far we can grow. Western Yearly Meeting needs an adult C.E. program capable of training people in the knowledge and skills necessary to serve on committees, teach children about God and Scripture, serve as elders, and serve the position of clerk. If our C.E. program ignores developing potential volunteer leadership our Meetings will have no future.
3. We need to strengthen the community. Yearly meetings and denominations in general are struggling with their members leaving. We must meet the challenge of building a community strong enough to endure. If I am C.E. director I want to explore ways of teaching people to value community, even if it requires building this community.
4. We need to evaluate ourselves. Unfortunately, it is impossible to move forward if we don’t know where we stand. If I am director, I plan to survey member meetings so that I can learn where we are strong and what needs work. I hope to evaluate both where we stand in terms of community standards, and where we stand in educating our members — of every age and every level of involvement. I hope to learn what is working and what is not working.
5. We need to communicate and educate one another. When I learn that something works, I want to set up communication, so that effective teachers can teach their skills and they can endorse effective programs.
6. We need to learn from others. I will speak of what I know — EFC-MAYM excels in some aspects of Christian Education. First is something David Kingrey developed called the “Church Leadership Institute”, which is a series of monthly seminars tailored for those who serve in various leadership or ministry roles. This program has been well attended and has become a valued institution. Another thing that works is the Jr. High Bible quizzing program, where Jr. High students will memorize a whole Epistle and compete in series of “Quiz Bowl” tournaments. I enjoyed this quizzing program, and I still breathe the book of James. If I become C.E. director, I will seek to learn and to introduce what others are doing right.
7. If possible, we need to work with others. The first goal is to show people that the Yearly Meeting is a community of communities, so that they learn to value the wider community. Western Yearly Meeting also belongs to a community of wider communities (Friends United Meeting). Any time we are stronger sharing resources with Indiana or Iowa Yearly Meeting, we should do so. We cannot afford to be selfish so we need to work with others.
Again, I don’t know if my vision is the same as Western Yearly Meeting, I only know that I look forward to meeting with them on February 5 and discussing my sense of calling to ministry. My heart has always been in Christian Education — so please pray as I share my vision with Western YM’s Christian Education board. Whoever they choose, may I find a way to communicate Truth to their board.