Book Review Sample for "Teaching the Faith Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church"

Published: 2023-12-23
Book Review Sample for "Teaching the Faith Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church"
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  Teaching Literature Church Books
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1862 words
16 min read

In their book, “Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church” Gary Parrett and Steve Kang prudently created key resources for Christian educational ministry founded on a profound sense of biblical primacies that the contemporary educational ministry entails. Educational ministry in the modern-day church has often been ignored for the benefit of other priorities. As a result, the faithful lack an in-depth understanding of the vital doctrinal contents of the Christian faith.

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In the preface of the book, the authors promise to address some salient questions that have been neglected for a long time in evangelical literature on contemporary educational ministry. The fourteen chapters that follow do not disappoint in fulfilling that promise in a discerning, comprehensive, and practical manner. The initial five chapters of the book give an outlay of the biblical foundation of forming devotes and congregations alike. In these five chapters, the authors delve into the theological imperative that practice in educational ministry entails. In addition, this section of the book entails a fundamental curriculum proposal complete with both primary and supplementary content.

The following seven chapters tackle the people, places, and practices involved in educational ministry. Here, the two authors explore the teaching of the faith at home, school, worship, and church. In doing so, they consider the roles and significance of all stakeholders in the form of pastors, volunteers, parents, and children as well as their need for each other. The authors also address intergenerational and developmental strategies in this section of the book.

In the closing two chapters, the authors give an outline of a comprehensive and hands-on challenge. Here, educational ministry leaders are challenged to be intuitive and innovative enough to develop and implement a holistic curriculum for use in forming and sustaining congregations. The authors use effective pedagogical intuitions to ensure that the book is accessible, manageable, and engaging. The chapters are shrewdly laid out with cooperative subheadings. In addition, the authors use tables and graphics often to not only support visual learning but also laconically present summaries and schemas.

It is vital to point out that each chapter ends with practical and insightful questions that assist users of the book to review, plan, and undertake devotional reflection. The authors also insert helpful resources in a comprehensive bibliography and an original hymn composed by Gary Parret at the end of each chapter to help readers reflect on the themes of the chapter. The schemas, acrostics, and mnemonics that each chapter of the text entails could seem pedestrian in a less critical or utilitarian text. However, by incorporating such devices in their text, the authors offer a feeling of structure and clarity as they peel and layer their vision of educational ministry. It is clear that the perspective of the authors on the ministry is derived from numerous pedagogical, theological, and congregational studies points of view.

The chapters of this master resource are classified into four parts that according to the authors, represent the four spheres of educational ministry in the church. Part one Purpose: a mission to fulfill’ is summed up in the first two chapters; The Poiema of God & Building up the Body. The first chapter delves into the epistle of Paul to Ephesians to portray the church as the instrument and recipient of reconciliation spirit against a backdrop of Creation, the first sin, and the redemption of humanity by Christ at the cross.

The Authors portray a scenario where the church has to be prepared and equipped to carry on God’s poiema (workmanship). In doing so, the authors make a concerted attempt to answer the age-old question of regarding the purpose of educational ministry. The second chapter (Building up the Body) amplifies the theme of building Christ’s body. The development of this theme requires a succinct exploration of why churches undertake educational ministry.

It is interesting to note that the text takes the readers through a detailed exploration of the background of the purpose of Christian ministry by asking further questions like why the church exists. Why does the church exist on earth in space and time? (pg. 20). In doing so, the authors address possible presumptions and provide clarity in providing answers to one of the fundamental questions of the Christian faith. Having established that the church exists for the glory of God, the authors then explore why the church must exist through the rigors of space and time.

Through an insightful and thoroughly researched comparison of the church with why Jesus was sent to Earth, the authors conclude that the reason why the church exists in space and time is so that the faithful may experience reconciliation with God and Christ. The authors do well to shatter some perceptions held in certain Christian quarters that the church exists as a vehicle of God’s vengeance or to provide immediate healing (pg. 23). The text takes the readers through a superbly planned and presented chronology of events from the story of creation, to the Original Sin and creation of enmity, then unto reconciliation initiated by the death of Christ on the cross. However, the authors note that the process of reconciliation is not yet complete and will only have worked out fully and practically at the time of the second coming of the messiah (pg. 27). The significance of why the church exists today is, thus, not lost to the reader.

The authors list some of the most salient reasons for Christian education as; the pursuit of obedience, the pursuit of salvation, love and faith, the pursuit of edification of oneself, and the pursuit of conformity to Christ (pg. 49). Teaching unto and out of obedience is enshrined in the great commission of Matthew chapter 28 from verse 18 to 20. The Great Commission has been the bedrock of faith formation in the church since its inception. However, the authors explore the various forms of the great commission as used in the New Testament to further elucidate the purpose of educational ministry as both a command and an end in itself.

According to the authors, teaching towards conforming to Christ carries a huge significance to educational ministry concerning the purpose of teaching the faith. The text succinctly explains why teaching must target even the deformed and malformed among those that the church serves for faith formation (pg. 54). By holistically answering ‘Why we teach?’ the authors uncover one of the most enduring fallacies in Christian ministry. Most Christians feel that they are ‘born again’ and have thus, received salvation in full. The authors point out that a narrow understanding of Ephesians 2:8 would make an endeavor in educational ministry redundant (pg. 55). They point out the doctrine of salvation, which posits that salvation is a continuous process.

As such, the authors make a compelling case that faith teaching and formation is by part driven by the need to achieve salvation. The authors also clarify that teaching unto faith requires teaching towards justification, towards glorification, and towards sanctification (pg. 60). The calls for the pursuit of faith as an experience of justification, hope as an experience of glorification, and love as an experience of sanctification. This is a wakeup call to those who diminish the role of sanctification in Christian ministry to an individual piety context. The authors warn that such sanctification that prioritizes the love of God over loving neighbors is indefensible. In addition, a balance must be struck because prioritizing community over individual piety is likely to compromise individual holiness.

Part two of the book, “Proclamation: A Message to Obey and Teach,” contains content in which the writers attempt to explicate the content education should entail. The question of what should be taught has not received the attention it deserves from contemporary theologians. To achieve the purpose of educational ministry as far as faith forming and sustenance is concerned; all the stakeholders must make a wholehearted commitment to using utilitarian content (pg. 76). In the three chapters that follow, the authors expound why using substantive content is vital in light of the mission that has been laid down for the church. Concisely, the content that should be taught in educational ministry is an unblemished and multifaceted proclamation of our savior.

In chapter three, A Faith Once Delivered, the authors first expressly ask what must be taught as opposed to what could or might be taught. In approaching the issue of educational ministry content from such a hardline position, the book uncovers what Christianity considers essential in faith formation and sustenance. For a long time, there has been a broad consensus among theologians that the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles Creed, and the Decalogue made up the minimum knowledge that a Christian needed at the point of faith formation (pg. 79). According to the authors, Acts chapter 2 verse 42 and Hebrews chapter 6 verses 1 and 2 have been believed by many to offer an outline of the elementary teachings that instruction in educational ministry should have.

Upon retrospection, however, the six elements resented by Hebrew 6: 1-2 present a number of limitations or problems when applied in a contemporary context. Identifying challenges that plague some of the most popular scriptures upon which traditional educational ministry content is founded goes a long way in revolutionizing faith teaching. Some of the limitations that the authors point out include; a lack of consensus on meanings of key phrases, the possibility of the passage being set in a rebuke context, and the practicableness of prescribing the list as a catechism outline for believers in all contexts and all ages (pg. 84). In any case, the initiation and sustenance of faith must be fostered in a culturally appropriate environment. As such, the author champions the notion of considering Hebrews 6: 1-2 as an expressive list of essential teaching elements in educational ministry as opposed to using it prescriptively.

In view of the glaring limitations of Hebrew 6: 1-2 and Acts 2: 42-47, the idea of faith in the New Testament in Jude is offered in an attempt to provide a more adequate primary element of content that has to be taught in faith formation and sustenance. The authors posit that faith is as personal as it is subjective. As such, it goes through phases of increase and decrease. The idea of The Faith is also keenly explored in this section of the book with educational ministers in churches sensitized to ensure that they instruct on The Faith even as they nurture personal faith. In essence, the second part of the book builds upon the conventional fundamental tenets of Christianity (the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles Creed). It challenges the readers and educational ministry practitioners to teach the fundamentals of the faith. The authors articulate the essentials of the faith as the life, the truth, and the way (p. 98). However, the essentials have to be reinforced with other facets of the church, such as the history of the church and its distinctiveness, to form a holistic curriculum.

According to Parret and Kang, the practitioners of educational ministry have to rely on the gospel because it is an essential content base perfectly tailored to the practice of nurturing, teaching, and forming believers.

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Book Review Sample for "Teaching the Faith Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church". (2023, Dec 23). Retrieved from

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