Teaching the Next Generations

BOOK CRITIQUE 2: Linhart, Terry, ed. Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016.

Summary

The next generation comprises the young people who are in most cases referred to as the future of the society. In the Christian world, the young are also regarded as the future of the church, and church leadership. They way they are formed helps to determine the direction of the future ministry. Terry Linhart’s Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation shows that there is need to teach the principle of Christian formation among the next generations.[1] This will help to enhance their faith in Christ.

The current church leadership has the task of ensuring that the next generation gets the teachings it deserves in order to take the church ministry forward, and towards the right direction.  It is good to help these young people understand the importance of spiritual formation. Those who teach the generation should be guided by appropriate theories and theologies. In order to effectively impart knowledge to the learners, Christian teachers need to use creative methods of teaching. It is also important to note that Christian teaching should aim at promoting spiritual growth and transformation.

Linhart’s collection demonstrates the fact that the impact and success of the Christian ministry depends on effective teaching. It is suggested in the book that teaching is an important skill that current and future ministers of the word need to be in possession of.[2] Ensuring that the young people are well equipped with important Christian principles in the course of learning can help to promote both their spiritual growth and maturity.  

Critique

Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation is an important and valuable resource for both Christian teachers and learners. One of the main concepts explored in the book is how Christian teaching contributes to discipleship among the members of the next generation. Allen Jackson argues that good teaching should focus on creating a good relationship between a teacher and e learner.[3] I agree with him that the success of teaching for spiritual maturity depends on the relationship on which it is based.  Indeed a strong and positive relationship between the learner and the teacher often leads to better educational outcomes. However, I tend to differ with the author’s remarks that directly associate Christian teaching with the process of discipleship.[4] Teaching generally refers to the process of passing Christian knowledge to learners.  Its purpose is not necessarily promoting spiritual growth. In contrast, discipleship involves mentoring the learner in different aspects that can lead to spiritual maturity.

Learning for Christian formation is a process which is influenced by various factors. Supporting this position, David Rahn claims that motivation is key for this type of learning. I concur with the author that teachers of the youth ministry should motivate and inspire their learners.[5] This undertaking will probably enable these young people to become powerful forces in the ministry during adulthood. Despite advancing an important argument in his article, the author fails to provide practical strategies that Christian teachers can use to promote motivation among learners. His case is highly philosophical and theoretical. What he proposes may not be practically applicable among the current techno-savvy generation of youths whose needs and sources of motivation are unique.

Some articles in the collection of Terry Linhart emphasize on curricular theories of Christian teaching and learning. Linhart himself identifies two theories: technical and experiential. The technical aspect focuses on learning to achieve the desired outcome. The experiential part centers on learning through personal experiences.[6] I agree with the author that both theories are useful in shaping the future generation for the purpose of Christian formation. However, I dislike the way Scottie May emphasizes on the idea of teaching children.[7] Some of the concepts this author proposes may not apply on children due to their spiritual immaturity. They are suitable for youths and young adults who are on the verge of entering the next generation ministry.   

Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation also proposes various way of teaching the next generation for Christian formation. In regard to this, Duffy Robbins recommends a method through which learning is effected by way of doing.[8] I like this idea because learners tend to learn better if they put into practice what they are taught. On the other hand, I may also disagree with this principle on the ground that learners are different by their nature. As a result, they tend to learn differently. Therefore, it should not be assumed that learning by doing can work for every learner.

It is as well suggested in the book that there is need to ensure that Christian teaching has an impact on the learners. As far as Robert Brandt is concerned, this goal can be achieved by equipping others in the ministry to teach.[9] Indeed there is need to have more Christian teachers in the next generation ministry. This will help to promote Christian formation and spiritual growth among the upcoming generations. In as much as I believe in this claim, I also refute it. Brandt seems to forget the fact that not everybody is taught to become a teacher in the ministry. Teaching is a spiritual gift given to a few people. Other members of the next generation can be trained to become prophets, evangelists, ministers of the word, and leaders.   

Evaluation

Christian teaching in this age of uncertainty is not an easy task. Technology, globalization, and other modern aspects of life have changed everything. Many young people who are expected to be in the next generation ministry are no longer interested in learning Christian doctrines and principles. This makes it necessary for the purpose of Christian teaching to be re-examined. Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation states that it is important to teach for the purpose of promoting Christian formation.[10] This will help to promote spiritual maturity among the young people.  

The book makes an important contribution to the current youth ministry whose members will play an integral role in the next generation ministry. It shows the importance of ensuring that the young people are spiritually nurtured in the right way. This will help them to become mature and responsible ambassadors of Christian education. The book achieves this purpose by demonstrating the fact that Christian teaching is connected to discipleship.[11] This is due to the fact that it enhances some form of mentorship.

All in all, Linhart’s work is a good piece. Bringing together the ideas of the best Christian teachers, the editor helps the reader to clearly understand the intersection between learning teaching in the ministry of young people who are at the same time members of the next generation. I recommend this book to the current church teachers, pastors, and leaders who part of their responsibility is to ensure the survival of the next generation ministry. 

Bibliography

Linhart, Terry, ed. Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016. 


[1] Terry Linhart, ed., Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016), 26. 

[2]Linhart, 139.

[3]Ibid, 4.

[4]Ibid, 4.

[5]Linhart, 113.

[6]Ibid, 141.

[7]Ibid, 154.

[8]Ibid, 215.

[9]Linhart, 302.

[10]Ibid, 3.

[11]Linhart, 30.

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