Thursday, January 10, 2008

Seven Spheres - Education

In my earlier post I introduced the idea of Seven Spheres of Influence. I basically talked about the concept that Christians can influence culture from several different areas, apart from ministry. There is nothing magical about have "Seven Spheres" - it is a handy way to think and organize it for memory purposes. In fact, YWAM has a great tool they release every year, a Personal Prayer Diary and Daily Planner (in a wonderful array of colors!), that encourages people to pray for these major areas of influence over the days of the week. Isn't that so easy?

In fact, I'm going to go through the different areas in the order that the Prayer Diary lists them, just for ease of keeping track. On Thursday, the prayer focus is on the area of Education. This is obviously an important area to have people who love truth serving kids, teens, and college-aged students.

At no time am I ever going to endorse the idea of theocracy (government run by religion) or that professionals in these fields we'll discuss should use their authority in such a way as to bully people or influence them in an inappropriate way. If a Christian is a teacher, then our laws do not allow her to stand in front of the classroom and lead of all the kids in a devotion. A businessman shouldn't use Christian cronyism to guide all of their contacts or sources.

However, there are a lot of ways where being a Christian can impact these areas. Back to education - a teacher who diligently prays over his classroom before the students come in creates a healthy spiritual atmosphere for learning and protection. Being an example of integrity is important as a lot of children may not see that in other areas of their lives. A good teacher should be able to teach how to think critically and define truth - even if it is not a specific "Biblical" teaching. The Bible doesn't comment on gravity or the Civil War, but a strong teacher can illuminate these arenas without using religious terms or making it sectarian.

Schools are a very hard place to serve. I don't think that teachers get a lot of support anymore. My wife taught 5th grade for a couple of years, and she was amazed how often true "teaching" time was cut into by assemblies, teaching toward a test, or doing lifestyle education like self-esteem or drug-free programs. Many of these things can be good, but in an ever complex world it seems that many subjects are only being skimmed due to the constraints on educators.

It also seems that being an active Christian can be hard, especially in the university setting. College is an area where so much formation is expected, yet if Christians are abandoning this difficult mission field, the positions will be filled by others, and they may not have a favorable view at all of faith and religion.

There is a lot that can be said in this sphere of influence. Hopefully I am starting to show how Christians can be an important influence in these areas. If I'm cutting examples too short or not being clear, please leave me a comment so I can clarify what I'm trying to say.

I'm done with work for the week, the forecast is for steady posts throughout the next few days.

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