Or more importantly, is a Theology Course by default Christian Education?
Christian Education, real Christian Education is so much more than the content that is taught. It is easy for some to believe that Christian Education is something that happens in Theology courses but not in securities courses. This is far from the truth. I would go so far to argue that even the delivery of a Theology course in itself does not equate to Christian Education. Furthermore, any Christian Tertiary Provider who leans solely on the content of their curriculum to qualify as 'Christian Education', is kidding themselves, their students and their governance board. Such an institute is not a Christian Education provider; they are merely a provider of Christian information.
Christian Education is not something that is taught, nor is it something that is learnt. It is something that a student experiences. It is something that transforms not just students, but communities. It is the culmination of purpose, design, relationship and intentionality. And it results in understanding calling, gaining comprehension and experiencing completeness.
Christian Education does not simply deliver content, it equips lives. In its purity, Christian Education is not defined by what is taught, but by how and why content is taught, the experiences a student has, and the relationships they engage in. Christian Education begins with the highest elevation of vision and the deepest conviction of purpose. Christian Education is not a noun; it is a verb. It is not so much a curriculum, as it is a way of doing.
It dictates the institution has a heaven-inspired vision for its students, it demands that lives who enter their programmes will be different when they leave, it demands that no matter what stage of life a student is in that they will be further equipped to 'go into the world and make disciples'. It demands that as a result of being in the family of the Christian Tertiary Provider that the student will graduate loving God more, loving others more and have a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of who God as made them and why. Whether they leave in a relationship with Christ or not is up to the Holy Spirit, but every effort should be made to make each student curious about their Creator. While they may not truly know Christ, they should at the least know all about Him.
The most important and valuable aspects of Christian Education are not about the line of study a student enrols in. In Christian Education, learning about God in a Theological course pales in comparison to experiencing God's hand through the Christ-like example, care, grace and genuine love of a Securities Course lecturer. Christian Education is not learning about God; it is about experiencing God. Christian Education has no hierarchy of subjects that are more 'Christian Education' than others. Christian Education is something that is experienced, that leads to transformation, not just the accusation of knowledge about the Creator.
It is possible for broken people to enter theological courses and crumble more as they learn more about the perfection of the Creator and the rules of the old testament. While another broken student could graduate from a mechanical engineering course because of the Christ they experienced through their lecturer or even the canteen server.
Genuine Christian Education begins with a heaven-inspired reason for existing. It is people who see education as their mission field. It is the foundation upon which policies are developed, curriculum is formed, and people are engaged. It is measurable and permeates all aspects of the service. It is intentional, not haphazard. It is the fragrance, not a law. It is yearning and it can never be mandated. It is at its best when every 'thought' of the institution is taken captive for Christ. An organisational team driven by the cause to equip not just the head, but the hands and the heart of their students. It is unapologetically intentional in its resolve to transform each life which God handpicks for them to serve.
For Christian Education to thrive, it must be nurtured through a clear vision and a shared purpose. A strong purpose. A purpose strong enough to overwrite the fallen nature of how all people innately interact, with both faculty and students. Something that staff realise they cannot do in their own strength. The resolve for transforming lives that is the drive that gets the whole team out of bed in the morning.
Christian Education knows that God is sovereign. Not sometimes, but always. Christian Education believes that every student who God sends into their care, is there for discipleship, for growth, for a transforming experience. Every student is there because God made it so. Understanding that often the ones that we like the least, are the ones that God requires us to love the most. And like the Parable of the Talents, Christian Education makes the most of every 'talent' that God entrusts to them. Trusting that if growth is needed, that He will bring it in the right season. Christian Education is never fixated with quantity but understands that it is responsible for quality, to do all things as if unto God and not as if unto man.
It does not measure success in what is taught but in what is learnt. It is less interested in the job a graduate has the year following study and more interested how the graduate has gone into the world with the to make disciples of all nations, regardless if it be in a Church or in a difficult community as a security guard.
Christian Education is not education with a side of Jesus, praying and then getting on with the lecture. A disjointed scripture followed by a monologue of the mundane, but necessary curriculum.
The biggest barrier for people to fully understand Christian Education may well be the title itself. 'Christian Education' denotes one whole, with two parts. It denotes part education and part Christian. This leads to institutions seeking to do the education parts well and to look at ways to include the Christian part, albeit, hopefully meaningfully.
The reality is that Christian Education is better thought of as discipleship. Successful Christian Education produces disciples. Well equipped disciples.
Even students who God has hand-selected for your security course have the need to be discipled. God has a plan for them. A plan that makes them whole. A calling for each student to go into the world and for them to make disciples. A plan for them, even those in the world of security, to love not just God and others. And for them to know God chose them because they are unique, valuable, powerful and made in His image.
A university is not a Christian Education provider because it has a Theology course or two.
Consider this. Is a university that delivers a Latin course automatically a university of Italy? Does this even make it an Italian University? Does that course automatically guarantee that the university will sell great pizza! The answer is no. It is still just another university that happens to provide a course about Latin. In the same way, a tertiary education provider that delivers a theology course does not automatically ensure its students will experience a Christian Education. It certainly does not determine the faculty will reflect Christ in their actions. Nor is the course itself a replication of authentic Christian Education, but it can be.
Christian Education is not about tweaking curriculum. It is not praying for students. It is not having a Bible verse in your prospectus. Christian Education is not the culmination of something Christian and something Education. It is bigger than the two parts. It is complex. It is intentional. It is fulfilling. It is transformational. It is powerful. It changes lives. It is beautiful. Christian Education changes everything.
Does Christian Education affect how a student is welcomed into a course at the beginning of the day? Does it affect how a struggling student is supported? Does it affect who the university employs? Does it raise the bar? Does it affect the centre's disciplinary procedures? Does it affect how success is measured? Does it affect the budget? Does it affect marketing? Does it affect the wider community? Does it affect staff appraisal?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Christian Education is not simple, but it is satisfying. It is probably not what you were told education was all about, but it is fulfilling.
Christian Education is more the 'why' and the 'how', than it is the 'what'. It is why the university exists. It is why the facility wakes up each morning. It is why students pay you to educate them rather than the school down the road. And it is how. How you and your lecturers engage with your students. It is how you impact your wider community, even beyond your students, and it is how you define success. It is not what. What you teach, the content, the curriculum, the qualification you provide is the opportunity that brings people into your ministry but is almost inconsequential in the resolve to Christian Education. Your qualification is the bait, not the fish.
Tertiary Christian Education embraces people preparing for a vocation and equips them for life as God designed.
A great picture of Christian Education is a team of Christ-centred believers doing all that they can to equip the students in whatever field of study they enrol in, in a way that causes each student to become equipped, Christlike and Christ-centred.
Christian Education does not have a hidden agenda, it has an intentional agenda.