PLAGIARISM FREE “A” WORK PLEASE POST EACH ASSIGNMENT SEPARATELY You are to read this week’s assigned materials Chapter 7, Chapter 9, and Chapter 15 (ATTAC

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PLEASE POST EACH ASSIGNMENT SEPARATELY

You are to read this week’s assigned materials Chapter 7, Chapter 9, and Chapter 15 (ATTACHED) which you think could be helpful to you in your role as a teacher. Each chapter must be 2 full double spaced, 12-pt. Times New Roman pages, explain why you chose this theme or concept, and elaborate on how you might utilize the theme or concept in your teaching. Identifying these “big ideas,” in addition to encouraging critical thinking and reading, will also help you engage in self-reflection prior to and during the formation of your Philosophy of Christian Education. To have effective “big ideas” you must read thorough through your chapter and be a good note taker.

                                                 Textbook Reference

 Maddix, M. A., & Estep, J. R. J. (2017). Practicing Christian Education: An introduction for ministry. Baker Academic. 

7
Learning to Be a Christian

Can you learn to be a Christian? This is a crucial question for Christian educators. How we
answer this question determines what we think we’re supposed to do (and not do) as teachers,
mentors, disciple makers, small group leaders, and so on. This isn’t a trick question or a
loaded question. Depending on how you define terms, interpret intentions, and emphasize
words, the question could be read differently. Can you as a teacher, alone, apart from the Holy
Spirit, teach someone to become a Christian? Is learning just knowledge, or is there more to it?
Is it a change of mind, alone, or does it involve more? Likewise, is it learning to be a
Christian, or to become a Christian? This chapter will introduce the idea of learning in the
church, explaining how not all learning is alike and how learning requires different educational
and pastoral approaches.

Learning through Concept Development

Second Timothy 3 mentions that Scripture can “make you wise” (v. 15) by providing
information that can inform and form our thinking, moving us from being informed to thinking
wisely. This is what educators call cognitive learning. We often use the metaphor of the head
—that is, head knowledge. Scripture provides insight into this kind of learning. The preface to
Proverbs explains that the purpose of learning is far beyond simply providing information but
should result in concept development, building, connecting, and increasing in complexity as we
study. Proverbs 1:1–7 reads:

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,

to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;

to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—

Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,

to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Maddix, M. A., & Estep, J. R. J. (2017). Practicing christian education : An introduction for ministry. Baker Academic.
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The author brings up everything from those who “despise wisdom” (v. 7), to those who think
simply (v. 4), to those able to think with discernment (v. 4) and understanding (vv. 5, 6) and
apply it to life (v. 5). This is all a portrait of the development of concepts, from knowing the
content provided to thinking it through into a mind that exhibits wisdom. It is learning through
concept development. The Bible itself exemplifies this, since as God’s special verbal
revelation, it calls us to cognitive learning. As Gerhard Bussmann writes, “God has appeared
in history via events, appeared personally in Christ, and has also revealed his will via a
written record, the Bible. . . . [Cognitive learning] is knowing God with the mind.”1

Levels of “Knowing”

A third-grade children’s church student might say, “I know John 3:16. ‘For God so loved the
world . . .’” Yes, they know it, in the sense they have memorized the words. However, if they
are still at this level of cognition when they are adolescents or young adults, their knowledge
may not serve to advance their faith. A seminary student might be able to say, “I know John
3:16 as it fits into the greater concept of ‘love’ in the writings of John.” Both of these examples
are cognitive learning, but they demonstrate the development of the concept. Benjamin Bloom
formulated a six-tiered progression of knowledge to help us understand concept development
—cognitive learning—from lower to higher orders of thinking.2

1. Knowledge: like memorization, a rote knowledge of the subject
2. Comprehension: the ability to translate, interpret, or extrapolate
3. Application: the ability to use the information in other situations
4. Analysis: the ability to discern elements and relationships and the organizational

principle(s) behind an idea
5. Synthesis: combining the information with existing understanding; formulating a more

abstract concept from the information
6. Evaluation: the ability to make judgments and to discern; wisdom

Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning demonstrates how learning is constructed, growing
in complexity and interconnectedness until it reaches a comprehensive, consistent way of
thinking. It allows educators to assess the student’s level of thinking. This is based on a
learning theory called constructivism. Constructivism basically emphasizes students’ cognitive
assembling of knowledge and understanding to ultimately make meaning. The learner is
endeavoring to make sense of their world and construct that meaning. Cognitive theorists
maintain that learning is the reorganization of perceptions. Knowledge is constructed when the
learner recognizes relationships and makes connections between pieces of information and
between bodies of knowledge, moving from isolated ideas to an interconnected concept.3
Perhaps the most relevant theorists for constructivism are Jean Piaget and George Kelly, as
well as Lev Vygotsky, who emphasized the role of society in the construction of meaning.
How does this impact practicing Christian education? Because faith has a cognitive

dimension, learning about the faith is essential to becoming a Christian and continuing to grow

Maddix, M. A., & Estep, J. R. J. (2017). Practicing christian education : An introduction for ministry. Baker Academic.
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in Christ. We need to know the story of Scripture. How can we expect people to think
Christianly if they don’t know the basics of our faith? As Christian educators, we need to help
students learn to think in biblical and theological categories to facilitate biblical thinking. But
what if this is overemphasized? What if this is the only kind of learning going on in a church? It
can lead to one’s faith being tied to legalism, a dehydrated orthodoxy, quasi-gnostic—brains on
a stick. Learning to be a Christian would be reduced to having a head knowledge of faith with
nothing else. Faith would be the facts and just the facts. This is why we must give attention to
the other two ways in which we can learn.

Learning through Experiences

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). While learning may indeed
be cognitive, it is also affective. Not effective, but affective, meaning it changes the heart—
values, convictions, priorities, relationships, and commitments. Second Timothy 3 also says
Scripture is “profitable for” a Christian life. We are not talking about learning by doing (that’s
next) but learning through life experiences. It is not just knowing Jesus with the mind, but
“Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself” (1 John 5:10). But how
does “the heart” learn? It learns through experience.
Lawrence Richards describes the Mosaic idea of nurture as one replete with intentional

experiences, all designed to immerse children into the faith experiences of their ancestors.4
The learning in the faith community of both testaments took place through the calendar,
festivals, feasts, and activities of remembrance. These celebrations of the covenant
relationship with God in Old Testament feasts and festivals were a means of knowing God
through his covenant. In the New Testament it happens through the Lord’s Supper. The Bible
presents a model of learning based on experiences, designed to shape the heart, such as
experiencing God within the fellowship of the church, the Christian family, and the presence of
the Holy Spirit, as well as on Christian holidays that are celebrations of the covenant.5
Similarly, relationships provide a catalyst for affective learning through experience. Bussmann
observes, “God has also chosen to make himself personally known to humanity. . . . Knowing
God not only involves remembering his great acts in history, but experiencing the relationships
he has desired for humanity.”6

Levels of Affective Learning

As with cognitive learning, some have undertaken to describe the process or level of affective
growth in the learner. David Krathwohl formulated a five-tiered taxonomy for explaining and
evaluating learning in the affective domain. His model is as follows.7

1. Receiving (attending) occurs when someone is willing to listen, shows an awareness of
another, and basically is willing to give someone or something attention. It’s willingness
to hear a new value.

Maddix, M. A., & Estep, J. R. J. (2017). Practicing christian education : An introduction for ministry. Baker Academic.
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2. Responding not only acknowledges a new idea but interacts with it by questioning,
responding, and receiving a satisfactory response to it. The new value is now not so
“new.”

3. Valuing makes the transitional point of accepting the new idea. One accepts the value as
one’s own, making it a preference and making a commitment to it.

4. Organization happens when the newly affirmed and accepted value begins to influence
one’s life and one begins to restructure and reorganize one’s values, commitments, and
relationships.

5. Characterization by a value or value complex occurs when the value has taken such a
firm presence in one’s life that one exemplifies that value, or the value characterizes the
person. What was once a value only to be listened to, one’s life is now all about.

Krathwohl’s taxonomy actually explains the process of conversion better than other
taxonomies and theories of learning. We were once willing to listen to the gospel, entertain the
message, and accept Christ for ourselves (valuing), and then he began to transform our lives
until we became more and more Christlike (characterization).8
The learning theories that parallel or inform learning in the affective domain are described

as humanist learning theories, which we’ll describe in greater detail in chapter 11. Affective
learning focuses on the individual and personal clarification of experiences and values, and
learning theories that are more aligned with secular humanism emphasize this domain of
learning. Affective learning is more value-driven, more prescriptive, rather than descriptive.
Education usually has a low “core” and is heavy on electives because it is student centered.9
For this reason teachers are described as facilitators rather than authority figures. Humanist
learning theories are most associated with the ideas of psychologists Carl Rogers and
Abraham Maslow, child educator John Hold, and adult educators Malcolm Knowles and Jack
Mezirow, as well as Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.
How does this affect us practicing Christian education? Experiences, especially Christian

ones, are crucial to forming faith. How many congregations sponsor cross-cultural mission
trips to provide a unique ministry experience designed to challenge believers and facilitate
growth? How many congregations emphasize the formation of community and building of
relationships through small group ministries? The key to helping believers learn affectively
through experience is to identify the desired values, attitudes, or characteristics and then
provide the experiences that are most likely to elicit or stimulate these outcomes, even
providing a role model or some information to help them process the experience and encourage
the acceptance of change.
When one reflects on affective learning theory and strategies, the church’s practical function

and necessity become even more evident. The church models and provides an experience of a
real, living faith. While experience may not be able to teach propositional truth, which is
essentially cognitive, it does aid in the application and practical expression of belief. Learning
through experience calls us as educators to become increasingly aware of our own life
experience and the experiences of our students. Life experience teaches us, but often we are
unaware of it, and hence as Christian educators we need to assist students in reflecting
theologically on their life experience by raising probative and reflective questions.

Maddix, M. A., & Estep, J. R. J. (2017). Practicing christian education : An introduction for ministry. Baker Academic.
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One caution. When the affective domain is dominant in your approach to discipleship, it can
result in a faith that is superficial, experiential, and rather self-centered. Faith lacks depth
intellectually because of the focus on emotional engagement. As Paul critiques his Jewish
countrymen, “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to
knowledge” (Rom. 10:2).

Learning through Doing

However, while we can learn through the head and the heart, we now need to learn with our
hands, metaphorically speaking. Learning can be done by doing something, through what we
might call training. When you learned to tie your shoes, it was quite an accomplishment. You
tried, but failed. Someone then showed you how to do it and asked you to try with their step-
by-step instruction and feedback. Eventually, you were able to do it on your own. You became
so proficient at tying your shoes that it’s now automatic; you don’t have to work at it, it just
happens. In fact, slowing down to explain it to others can actually cause you to make a mistake!
One can acquire a new ability or skill only by actually practicing it. Could you really learn to
tie your shoes if someone came out with a lectern and PowerPoint slides about the history and
philosophy of shoes, diagrams of shoes and laces, and videos of how one ties one’s shoes—
and if, upon listening and watching all this, you were then handed a pair of sneakers and told to
tie them? No! To really master a skill you have to repeatedly practice it with assistance and
feedback until you no longer need either. This is learning by doing.
In the Old Testament, the skills needed to produce the tabernacle were lacking, and the need

was so urgent that God gifted individuals with the skills to do what needed to be done without
any prior training (Exod. 35:30–35). Conversely, Jesus’s ministry with the Twelve gives
insight into the process of training others. As one reads Mark’s Gospel, early on Jesus is doing
everything, and the disciples are spectators (1:14–3:12). The disciples begin to assist Jesus in
what he is doing (3:13–6:6). Then, once they know what to do, the disciples begin doing the
ministry while Jesus supervises them (6:7–13, 30). At the close of the Gospel, the disciples
are commissioned to do the ministry as Jesus departs—the Great Commission (16:15–16, 20).
Jesus didn’t just lecture them or let them observe his ministry; he trained them to do ministry by
letting them do it with him. They were learning by doing.

Levels of Skill Learning

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of discussing learning by doing is the labeling of the
learning domain itself. Some call it behavioral, others psychomotor, others active or skill.
Likewise, because “doing” is very general yet sometimes specific to a certain set of skills,
each requiring varying levels of expertise, numerous “taxonomies” for this kind of learning
have developed. Unlike scholars of the cognitive and affective, those who study learning by
doing have not widely accepted any one taxonomy. Figure 7.1 summarizes an analysis of these
taxonomies.

Maddix, M. A., & Estep, J. R. J. (2017). Practicing christian education : An introduction for ministry. Baker Academic.
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Just like when you learned to tie your shoes, the teacher works with the student, who
becomes more capable and less reliant on the teacher until the student is capable of performing
the task on their own. The taxonomies often denote the step-by-step development of the
student’s capabilities, usually in five tiers, but label them distinctively depending on the skill
on which the taxonomy is based. One learning theory that lends itself well to learning by
practicing is that of Russian theorist Lev Vygotsky. He theorized learning in “zones”: the zone
of potential development, the zone of actual development, and finally the zone of proximal
development. The student has a potential for development, but that is usually more than their
actual development—that is, what the student is able to do at present is not their full potential.
The distance between these two zones is the area of proximal development, which is the area
needed to close the gap, wherein the teacher provides insight, guidance, practice, and feedback
until the student meets their full potential and is able to accomplish the task themselves. While
Vygotsky used his zones to describe even cognitive development, the acquiring of skills
obviously is addressed in his writing.10 Often the behavioral theories of learning are relevant
to the psychomotor or behavior domain of learning, beginning with the theories of Ivan Pavlov
and B. F. Skinner. These theories focus on the motivation of the student toward a desired
behavior or action through the introduction of rewards and punishments for performance
designed to reinforce learning.11
What does this have to do with practicing Christian education? Not everything about the

Christian faith can be taught in a classroom or experienced in a prayer meeting. Part of our
education ministry has to be about training believers in the skills necessary for their faith and
for active participation in ministry. Learning to do something new requires them to actively
participate, but only with guidance and feedback from a capable teacher, to develop their own
abilities and reach their potential, cultivating good performance while correcting
underperformance.
As with the other learning domains, a danger exists in emphasizing this kind of learning over

the others. Focusing exclusively on learning through doing can lead to a very outward-focused,
works-oriented Christian faith. Education can become utilitarian, meaning teaching only what
is needed to do the work of the church and nothing else, and can ultimately contribute to
burnout in terms of commitment to perpetual service without opportunity for cognitive or
affective learning. We need balance.

Maddix, M. A., & Estep, J. R. J. (2017). Practicing christian education : An introduction for ministry. Baker Academic.
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Your Congregation Is a Learning Organization

While there is more to faith than learning, the teaching ministry of the church can indeed
advance, nurture, and equip the believer to grow in faith. Your congregation is a learning
organization. Believers develop a Christian worldview—God’s perspective on life—by
forming a Christian intellect and learning through concept development. Believers develop
values, passion, convictions, and character as they engage in Christian experiences and
relationships, growing affectively by learning through experiences. They also grow in their
abilities, the practices of the Christian faith, and their personal ministries when they are guided
and trained by a more mature teacher, developing proficient practices for growth and service
as they learn through doing. The church must embrace and find balance in all three ways we
learn, or else learning in the church will result in an overemphasis and imbalance in our faith.
Practicing Christian education involves utilizing all three approaches, emphasizing the one
most relevant for a specific program, but not to the exclusion of the other two.

Reflection Questions

1. How would you teach someone about an apple if they had never even seen one
(cognitive learning)? Be creative. How might this apply to teaching the Bible’s content?

2. How would you teach someone to ride a bike (skill learning)? Be creative. How might
this apply to teaching for service?

3. How would you teach someone to be kind (affective learning)? Be creative. How might
this apply to teaching for piety and character formation?

4. How might a Sunday school class or small group embrace all three types of learning?
What would this require them to do differently?

5. How might a teacher/sponsor/leader development program embrace all three types of
learning? Why not just learning through doing?

6. Review the ministry programs in your home or current congregation. What kind of
learning do they promote? Are these in balance, or is there an imbalance?

Suggestions for Further Reading
Moreno, Roxeno. Educational Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010.
Slavin, Robert E. Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000.
Yount, William. Created to Learn. 2nd ed. Nashville: B&H, 2012.

Maddix, M. A., & Estep, J. R. J. (2017). Practicing christian education : An introduction for ministry. Baker Academic.
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