As I shoveled snow many times this weekend and felt the icy blast of wind chills that took my breath away, I attempted to distract myself with the reality that mid-March is one month away. It may still snow at that point, but the serious part of winter will be over. Beneath these mounds of snow lies the potential for green grass, daffodils, tulips, and more. I can hardly wait.
I heard an analogy for Christian Education recently that that I thought was helpful.
In order to give a young plant every opportunity to thrive in its eventual home, a wise gardener starts the plant off in the very controlled environment of a greenhouse. Temperature, sunlight, and moisture are closely monitored to ensure the plant thrives in its first stages. Fertilizer, pruning, and close monitoring accelerate the plant toward being ready to leave the greenhouse for the natural world when ready, equipped to flourish where planted. The greenhouse start is never intended to keep the plant from being able to experience the outdoors; it is a step taken to give the best opportunity for future success of that plant in its eventual setting.
Christian education’s long-term goal is much the same. Students are planted in an environment rich with opportunities to flourish. The nourishment of learning about who God made them to be and what God asks them to do is liberally showered every day on young hearts and minds. The pruning shears of a controlled environment where certain habits of faith are encouraged and others are discouraged direct the plant to grow in a certain direction. The warmth of stimulating stories and ideas is sustained to give every opportunity to create disciplined minds and committed hearts for both the present and future soils they will be planted in. The long term goal of Christian education is not isolation, it is integration.
I look forward to spring. I can’t wait to see how our plants will do. SJ