In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes, “We proclaim him (Jesus), admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” (1:28). The phrase “with all wisdom,” makes it clear that teaching alone is not enough. Christian educators are not simply tasked to teach, but rather to teach “with all wisdom.” This command requires them to go the extra mile. They must: utilize various forms of assessment in their assignments, facilitate meaningful class discussion, illustrate and make accessible, challenging truths, test students in their understanding of relevant precepts, and faithfully communicate their subject in light of Christ and the weight of Scripture. Education is such a high priority in the Bible that Christians have historically prioritized learning not only at the local church level, but formally in: private K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and seminaries. Today, Christian educators teach in both virtual classrooms and in traditional classrooms across the globe. Their role uniquely requires them to formally: educate, equip, encourage, and inspire students to grasp various subject matters related to: ministry, Christianity, and Scripture.
It is important to understand that many differences exist between a church’s “minister of education,” and a “Christian educator/professor.” For example, Christian educators serve in schools, while ministers of education serve in local churches. Christian educators directly serve students while ministers of education serve congregants. Christian educators do not typically report to pastors, but are accountable to department heads, headmasters, or presidents. Christian educators typically serve alongside credentialed professionals within a department, not among church volunteers and staff. Christian educators actively teach students during the school semester and make preparations during the breaks. Consequently, Christian educators/professors do not operate on a church calendar. While the educational values and outcomes may be similar, these educational roles are quite distinct from one another.
The responsibility of a Christian educator is three-fold. The Christian educator is responsible to: the student, the school, and the Savior. Dr. Albert Mohler, the acting president of Southern Seminary, said, “Our responsibility is to get God’s words to their ears. Only God can get the word from their ears to their heart.” Christian educators partner with God himself when instructing students. Christian educators humbly shoulder the responsibility of getting the truth of God’s word to each student entrusted to their care. Formal Christian education is best understood through relationships. Christian schools cannot exist without students. Christian educators would not have a job without Christian schools. And neither the student, nor the teacher, nor the school would exist without God’s provision. All of these relationships bring responsibility. Christian educators are responsible to uphold the mission, vision, and values of their school. Christian educators are responsible to bring quality education to their students. Lastly, Christian educators are responsible to Christ to be Christ-like in both their personal and professional lives.
Proverbs 21:31 teaches, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” It is no surprise that those serving in formal Christian education value formal Christian education. Nevertheless, how the “horse is made ready,” or how preparations are made in ministry, varies from place to place. However, generally speaking, how one first prepares to serve in Christian Education is by personally investing and valuing formal education. Accreditation agencies and school boards evaluate their teachers and staff based on both their education and experience. Christian educators must be willing to earn degrees at the bachelors, masters, and possibly doctoral level in order to properly (possibly legally) instruct their students. Colleges, universities, and seminaries typically prefer their faculty members to have a PhD or terminal degree. This standard is not typically true for Christian schools K-12; however, diligence in one’s study must be substantiated. Formal education is not necessarily what makes a Christian educator good, but most often, formal education is what is required in order to be considered as a viable candidate for a Christian school. Additionally, continuing education and possibly attaining new certifications and skills via conferences, seminars, and conventions is customary. However, distinguished Christian educators do not only have formal education to offer, but have experience as well in the areas of teaching, writing, and researching. Candidates pursuing the call of ministry in the area of Christian Education must be willing to gain experience wherever they can. Teaching on the mission field, in a Sunday school class, or as a graduate assistant/student teacher are all recommended practices to strengthen one’s educational experience.
Christian educators have opportunities to serve all over the globe, especially, with the rise in virtual/online education. Education in general has been experiencing significant structural shifts with the rise in popularity and cultural acceptance of online learning. Consequently, educators of all kinds are rushing to accommodate digital learners. Christian schools that primarily serve commuting or residential students are not likely to disappear; however, online or virtual educational programs are drastically changing the way Christian schools posture themselves for the future. While openings for the traditional classroom may be difficult to find, opportunity for online Christian educators/professors is an inevitable and burgeoning trend.
Finding a job as a Christian educator/professor is not easy, but thoughtful skilled Christian educators are genuinely needed everywhere Christian schools exist. As you know, Christian schools require many employees to operate, but many Christian schools value and incentivize longevity and stability, making job openings less frequent. Nevertheless, when openings do become available, candidates must be prepared to submit their resume, letters of recommendation, application, background check, and letter of intent to the search team. Knowing the preferred schools of service works best, and watching their website for job openings is advised. Fostering a relationship with the preferred school of service through volunteerism makes a difference too. Placement at a Christian school is a process, but most applications are collected at the top of the year, interviews are conducted in the spring, and new educators settle in during the summer in order to begin teaching during the fall semester.
Many Christian educators do not ultimately feel called to give their lives in the classroom as much as they do to leading and administrating a Christian school itself. For this reason, school presidents, provosts, researchers, accreditors, curriculum writers, and staff of all kinds also exist to serve students and Christian schools.