Institutionalized Education

I watched a thought provoking video on education over at Jason's blog this morning. Jason asked us this question:
My question, as you watch, is how does this apply to the church? Does it have relevance to the way we should do things at all? Now or in the future, how do you transition? If schools teach from a 19th century paradigm in the 21st century, what about the church?
Here is the way that I sort-of answered:
I have believed for a very long time that our school system is targeted at a small minority.. most of the folks who are successful in school have a style of learning that is very compatible with the manner of teaching in "institutionalized education" ... hey, I liked saying that ... usually it is someone who is unhappy with church that says "institutionalized church" :)

Seriously, the problems in US education far outshadow that of church in America.. I wonder why we never hear about this? Maybe it is because the "institutionalized church" has bought into "institutionalized education" ... hmmm ... I wonder how many of us in church like to be "taught" by Doctor Jones or Reverend Smith instead of being ministered to by brother Joe ... hmmm ... some interesting thoughts.
I think that US education has impacted the evangelical church much more that we want to admit. In our search for acceptance we have gravitated to unhealthy desires to be led by "educated" people.. we seem to now want teachers rather than shepherds.. we seem to want people who are brain-smart rather than heart-smart.. I have to wonder where this journey will end. What do you think? Is the church being overly influenced by academia?


  1. I also posted this on my other blog so that I would get as much feedback as possible - I am really interested in your respnse to this.

  2. Bob,

    I'd say the influence of academia on the church varies from church to church. I am familiar with churches that go to both extremes on this (and of course I know they are "extreme" because my view MUST be the balanced one ;).

    Higher education does not guarantee effective leadership, especially given the spiritual nature of church ministry. Some of the most godly and effective pastors I know do not have a college degree. Then there are those whose effectiveness as servants has been greatly enhanced by their education.

    Some churches I know can be considered "anti-intellectual," without any hyperbole. Others think no one should teach or preach unless they have the "appropriate degree." Personally, I believe both to be a form of pride. One may be more subtle than the other, but it is pride nonetheless.

    So, I say let's have both: heart-smart and head smart. If I have to choose, give me heart. But I'd rather not have to choose. I'd rather have "both/and."

  3. Since the church founded and fostered the university system, the two can go harmoniously together, but I think there is a weird divide between the two.

    I long for the encouragement of more education from the pulpit, because we have seen the fruits of bad catechesis for the past nearly 40 years. Too many people simple don't know the history of the faith, or philosophy, or historical theology. Not necessarily education directly, but enthusiasm for the learning process as applied to Scripture and church history.

  4. When the study of the Book becomes more important than discovering the Creator of the Book - we've got problems.

  5. I think the church has been generally distrustful of acedemia for a few decades now, but our swmeinaries don't really reflect this. I know plenty of people who have gone to ineffective seminaries where a person can graduate as a pastor and not even know the Lord!

    I think education and diligent research reflects character, and hopefully that character which comes from the indwelling Spirit counselling a person. However, we need godly wisdom above all. Wisdom guides intelligence, and we know the definition of wisdom.

    Over all, I think we need to have a divine take-over of acedemia. It's gone plain kooky!

  6. Oops! Didn't catch that terrible mispelling. Swmeinaries, pshaw! Oh, I did hear a pastor speak on the radio one time who was convicted by the Lord to not get his doctorate on the eve of graduating. Now that's some kind of obedience! Huzzah for him!

  7. Great feedback! I love this stuff:

    "I say let's have both: heart-smart and head smart." - Cameron

    "Since the church founded and fostered the university system, the two can go harmoniously together" - TZ

    "When the study of the Book becomes more important than discovering the Creator of the Book - we've got problems." - Mork

    "education and diligent research reflects character" - MistaB


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