Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church, By Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang

Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful

A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church

by Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang
Foreword by J. I. Packer

Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful
  • Length: 461 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: October 16, 2009
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 2587
  • ISBN: 9780830825875

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Why does the church teach? And what should it teach?

In recent years, traditional Sunday school and education programs have declined in influence and effectiveness. Education in the church is often sidelined by other competing priorities, and our efforts become haphazard and random.

As a result, many Christians have not learned the fundamental doctrinal content of the faith. As a response, a growing number of church ministries have moved toward an emphasis on Christian spiritual formation. But churches must hold together education and formation, the teaching of the faith and the forming of the faithful.

In this comprehensive text, Gary Parrett and Steve Kang attend to both the content and process of educational and formational ministries. They set forth a thoroughly biblical vision for intentional teaching of the Christian faith, with a holistic concern for what and whom is taught as well as how and why.

Fully apprised of developments in educational theory and pedagogy, Parrett and Kang propose a core curriculum for recovering the full scope of Christian proclamation and reinvigorating the teaching ministry of the church. Their vision has implications not merely for catechesis, but for preaching, worship, children's and youth ministry, and much more.

The body of Christ can become all that God intends it to be, through intentional practices that foster personal and corporate formation. Here is guidance for individuals and congregations on that journey.

"In a well-researched and comprehensive work, Kang and Parrett provide a rich and nuanced introduction to Christian education well worth reading by all those committed to faithful teaching and formation in the third millennium. The biblical and theological connections provide a rich tapestry for thought and practice. I enthusiastically recommend this work for scholars and practitioners alike."

Robert W. Pazmiño, Valeria Stone Professor of Christian Education, Andover Newton Theological School

"This is the kind of book on the teaching ministry of the church that we have needed for some time! Parrett and Kang provide a solid biblical grounding for the purpose and practices of educational ministry, connecting it with the broader life and ministry of the church. Their 'take and bake' approach makes this a thought-provoking read, challenging church leaders to look more deeply into the nature of the church, its calling in the world, and the ways educational ministry can better strengthen the faith and faithfulness of God's people. This is a must-read for everyone in vocational ministry who desires to see the church grow into a more faithful image of Christ in this world."

Dr. Kevin E. Lawson, director, Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs in educational studies, and editor, Christian Education Journal, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"Somewhere along the way, our ministries have become more concerned with implementing methodologies than with teaching meat. The sad outcome has been a church filled with people who have little or no idea how God's story speaks to them, or how they are to enthusiastically live out their place in God's story in the midst of a watching world. We are nurturing generations of children, youth and adults who have little or nothing stored in the well of their faith. Gary Parrett and Steve Kang remind us that our calling is to fill wells with an understanding of God's story that yields a church filled with stories that bring glory to God in every nook and cranny of life. Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful has the potential to transform our ministries, the people we minister to, the church and the world. Their diagnosis is accurate. Their practical prescriptive responses call readers to return to biblical roots that have long been forgotten. I will be recommending this book to youth workers, pastors, parents and educators."

Dr. Walt Mueller, president, The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, and author of Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture

"Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful is a fairly comprehensive orientation and guidebook for pastors and church leaders regarding the essential educational ministry of the church. The overall organization of the book is clear (aims, essential content of the gospel, participants, and processes and practices) and the last two chapters offer a macroframework for conceptualizing and guiding overall educational ministry practice. The authors' 'pastoral insider' perspective yields useful lists and suggestions that can easily be contextualized in any local church, especially those with a liturgical tradition. The book is biblically grounded throughout and offers a wide range of notes and resources from church history, making it a rich resource for the seminary classroom and on the pastor's shelf."

Klaus Issler, Ph.D., professor of Christian education and theology, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and author of Wasting Time with God

"Although Parrett and Kang seem to misread my priorities in my first book on worship, still I heartily recommend their work! In this book's massive thoroughness, they skillfully explore all the major questions for a congregation's educational ministry. This volume's comprehensive view of spiritual formation is critically necessary—and intensively beneficial!—reading for everyone who serves to teach the faith, from the preschool Sunday school teacher to the senior pastor!"

Marva J. Dawn, teaching fellow in spiritual theology, Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia, and author of Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, Is It a Lost Cause? and In the Beginning, GOD

"This book moves almost seamlessly between Bible, theology and education to provide foundational insights into how the church must educate its members toward Christian maturity. In a time when serious education of believers has been neglected, this work offers an important and helpful corrective by using sound theology and the best of educational theory to guide the practice of the church."

Perry G. Downs, professor of educational ministries, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"After reading Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful I concluded, 'This text is perfect for my Foundations for Educational Ministry course.' Grounded in Scripture, conversant with theory, spanning the globe and the centuries of Christian tradition, Parrett and Kang have produced a comprehensive study of the church's teaching ministry. It will ignite passion in its readers and equip them with a clear, compelling vision for educational ministry."

Robert Drovdahl, professor of educational ministry, Seattle Pacific University

"A clarion call to the church to teach the Scriptures, learn what they teach and practice their truth. This is a challenge we need to heed today. Ours is a time when authentic faith is often overwhelmed by the triviality of our culture, by fascination with technique in our churches and by confusion as to what it means to be God's people in our own time. I therefore welcome this study!"

David F. Wells, Distinguished Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Well-grounded in Scripture, committed to the church and the gospel of Christ, Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful describes and explains the essential elements for a teaching that truly aims to form the believer and the church community unto a more faithful living of the gospel. This is a book well worth reading by those who teach and share the goal of promoting a lifestyle that daily lives the story of the good news of Jesus Christ. I look forward to engaging my students with this well-rounded text on teaching as they too seek to learn to teach and form the faithful in the way of the gospel."

Jackie L. Smallbones, Th.D., professor of religion and Christian education, Northwestern College, Iowa, and author of Keeping Company with Jesus

"It seems that every decade or so, the institutional form of the church reinvents itself. It is no wonder if members of congregations weary of proposals to adopt the next 'new' approach to congregational life and ministry. This is not a how-to-have-a-successful-church manual. The authors set the church in a biblical context, reminding us that it might be the past that is the key to its future. The church's rationale is the gospel; its character is derived from the historic practices of the Christian church and the clear descriptions of what God expects of the people of God. The authors' specializations include theology, multiculturalism, the nature of learning and spirituality. As a result, this book reflects a wholistic perspective and practicality that is not always evident in books about the church."

Linda Cannell, dean of academic life, North Park Theological Seminary

"Parrett and Kang lay out in detail, with good judgment, firm grasp and many lively proposals, the authentic elements of what is needed. Much wisdom that has been broached in bits and pieces in recent years is brought together here. Rich in its pastoral discernment, this is emphatically a book for our times, and I commend it with enthusiasm."

from the foreword by J. I. Packer

"Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful provides an integrated approach to contemporary educational ministry im the church. This book is a must-read for scholars, pastors, and laypeople serious about disciple-making."

Mark H. Heinemann, Journel of Evangelical Homiletics Society, March 2011

"Instead of arguling that a church can either feed their members minds or feed their hearts, Parrett and Kang believe that a church should be doing both. And in this volume they lay out a plan for how to make that happen. They offer theory and theology; but they also offer a sample curriculum and questions for thinking through the church;s corporate worship."

Leadership Journal, (www.leadershipjournal.net), Spring 2010


Foreword by J. I. Packer

List of Tables and Figures


Part 1: PURPOSE: A Mission to Fulfill
1. The Poie ma of God
2. Building Up the Body

Part 2: PROCLAMATION: A Message to Obey and Teach
3. The Faith Once Delivered
4. The Glorious Gospel and its Implications
5. CORE Content for a Congregational Curriculum

Part 3: PEOPLE: Of Teachers Learners
6. Teachers Among Us
7. Attitudes and Attributes of Christlike Teachers
8. Listening to the Theorists
9. Toward a Community of Learners

Part 4: PRACTICES: Strategies for Teaching Forming
10. Visions of Christian Teaching
11. From Generation to Generation
12. "When You Come Together": Worship and Formation
13. Commitments for a Congregational Curriculum (Part 1)
14. Commitments for a Congregational Curriculum (Part 2)

Conclusion: The Beautiful Body of Christ!
Name Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Gary A. Parrett (Ed.D., Columbia) is professor of educational ministries and worship and chair of the Division of Ministry of the Church at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is a co-author of A Many Colored Kingdom (Baker, 2004).

S. Steve Kang (PhD, Northwestern University/Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary) is professor of educational ministries and interdisciplinary studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He previously taught at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Wheaton College. He is the author of Unveiling the Socioculturally Constructed Multivoiced Self, A Many Colored Kingdom and is co-editor of Growing Healthy Asian American Churches.