Horizontal Church: Christian Education


I know a young adult who is really into the study of theology. All the time, people ask him, “Have you thought about seminary?”

This is a worthwhile question. First of all, it would be a great opportunity for him to learn more. But also, there may be a question of calling for him to consider within this. “Have you thought about….?”

But I also think there’s an underlying assumption within this question too: The study of theology is for ministers with seminary degrees. In other words, it’s for ministry professionals. But what if more people in our churches had access to the study of theology, Biblical Greek and Hebrew, and preaching? For the benefit of the church? For the practice of a horizontal vision? For the Priesthood of All Believers?

In the Presbyterian Church (USA), my own tradition, we require our pastoral leaders to have a rigorous education. There is value in this, as we want people to have skills in exegeting Biblical texts in their original languages, making theological connections, and practicing pastoral care. I think this is important.

Earlier last week, I cast a vision for worship that is more participatory – a vision which invites the voices, wisdom, and teaching of many people into the time we often call the sermon. First of all, I believe it’s possible for people to speak about Biblical texts from their convictions and life experience. I can learn a great deal and be deeply inspired when I encounter how others hear, interpret, and live the texts of the Bible.

But I do believe it is important for a congregation to hold the depth and skills of Christian education. I just don’t believe this kind of education needs to be held solely within a professional class. It’s possible for knowledge and skills to be held more collectively. Not everyone can go to seminary, so. . . how can some of the learnings and skills of seminary be taught more broadly?

I suspect this would require more teaching in relationship. Not classes alone. But apprenticing and mentoring. I wonder what might be possible?

Renee Roederer

This post is a part of a series. Feel free to check out the other pieces as well:

8 thoughts on “Horizontal Church: Christian Education

  1. Renee, I wonder if developing Biblical exegesis skills are enough.

    We owe much to modernity, but as Marcel Raymond commented in his From Baudelaire to Surrealism several generations back, it is as though the enlightenment lead to the our separation from the universe and ourselves–at the very moment when Christianity was losing its sway over our souls and no longer offered us the path of personal salvation . . .

    Perhaps we need to go deeper. Perhaps delving deeper into who we are, so that in dialogue with others, we can begin to accept each other, the universe and God. If we cannot talk about each other and the universe, I doubt we can say much useful about God.


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