Dr. Perry Downs
2016 Conference Keynote
The Church Must Teach
That the church must teach is non-negotiable.
How the church teaches is always negotiable and changing. As cultures change and context varies, so approaches to teaching will vary and change. Scripture is clear that from its birth, the church understood the imperative of teaching. “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching…” (Acts 2:42) is the first statement regarding what the church actually did. There is very little insight as to how they taught but there are some important insights in the New Testament for how context shaped method. It is clear when Paul was in Jewish context his approach was a careful reasoning from the Scripture. When he was in a Greek context he entered into conversation and dialogue with his learners. The non-negotiable was the content itself, but how it was engaged and communicated varied greatly.
Clearly faith is a gift from God, but still we must teach in ways that help to develop the faith in others. The nature of biblical faith requires that we catechize people in the context of the faith, but there must be more. The emergence of the social sciences in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provided valuable insights into how we might teach others in more complete ways than had been popular during those times. As the writings of Vygotsky, Piaget, and later Loder emerged, the Church engaged their insights to develop a more complete and energetic understanding of how to teach the faith. The rudiments of these understandings began in the 1940s and progressed to new approaches in the late twentieth century. To be sure, not all of the approaches were helpful, but the Church has grown in its understanding of how we can teach in ways that are compatible with the biblical nature of faith.
My second keynote session will trace the development of our understanding of how to teach faith, exploring the complex interaction between educational theory, theology, and context. Hopefully we will emerge with better understanding of how to teach the faith in this ever emerging cultural context in which we live now.
About Our Guest Contributor
Perry G. Downs
Professor Emeritus of Educational Ministries
Diploma, Miami Christian College
BS, Philadelphia College of Bible
MA, PhD, New York University
Prior to coming to Trinity, Dr. Downs taught at Philadelphia College of Bible in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has taught as an adjunct professor at Canadian Theological Seminary in Saskatchewan, North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Malaysian Biblical Seminary in Kuala Lumpur, and Daystar University in Nairobi. Dr. Downs has also been interim pastor in ten churches in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Dr. Downs’s areas of expertise include faith development, moral development, moral education, and spiritual formation. He is a member of the North American Professors of Christian Education, the Religious Education Association, and the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education. His published works include many books, articles, reviews, and audio tapes. Among them is his book Teaching for Spiritual Growth (Zondervan, 1994).
2016 Conference Keynote Speaker
Join us for equipping, education, and edification at this year’s SPCE Conference, October 27-29, 2016 in Orlando (learn more or register now). Not available? Be a part of our organization year-round as a current member. Join or check your membership status and renewal date.