A quotation in the New York Times Magazine has captivated me: “Every life is a story worth remembering.”1 Jesus’ life is a story on which we base much of our living as Christians. We actively remember Jesus’ life, his story. Jesus’ story taught us to love one another and to care for those unable to care for themselves. We learned from his life the importance of friends and of colleagues. We learned the importance of communication and sharing. Jesus was a teacher and from him we have heard our call to be educators. Other lives and stories have affected our lives. A book that was important to me as I was working toward certification as a Presbyterian educator was Rabbi Jesus by Stephen D. Jones. His model of Jesus as teacher helped me develop my philosophy of Christian education. Ann Weems also helped me glimpse church and family stories as they are set together and to realize that I have come to faith through the stories of my church and my family.
Relationships are made in new ways. Young people today first reach out online to make friends; then they may consider a meeting in person. What does that mean for us as church educators? Are we reaching out online? I commend to you some practice at that by reaching out to educators around the country and the world through our APCE Facebook and website. Tell your story and listen attentively to the stories of others. Help other educators. Let others reach out to you.
For some of us this way of getting acquainted seems all backward. I think first of meeting someone, hearing their story, and then perhaps communicating by email, phone or letter. I have watched my colleague in youth ministry in Dayton, OH, reach out online to a young person who may be hurting, communicate with that person for a time and then she issues an invitation to a youth activity. Obviously this is a new way of building relationships. It won’t be easy for some of us to embrace this new model, but we could try by reaching out to other educators who are really not so different from us even though we have never met. Have you checked out the APCE Facebook page? Do you know that APCE has new electronic media coordinator, John Johnson? See page 22.
Consider asking your colleagues in educational ministry for help with your next program or with your next staff problem. Perhaps you need help finding a theme for your summer Sunday school. Maybe you could ask for an idea for a summer adult program or a mission project for your youth group. You may hear from an educator in Australia or from someone who lives just around the corner.
I recently retired from working every day as a Christian educator and am now the volunteer resource center director and chair of the Equipping for Ministry Network of my presbytery. I am looking for ideas about how to equip people for ministry today. This is my story. Can you respond? How might we tell our stories and build up the ministries of education in the church today? Let’s see if we can hear each other’s stories and value them as stories worth remembering. Share part of your story with us. Where do our stories intersect and where do our lives and stories intersect with God’s story?
1“Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories,” The New York Times Magazine. December 25, 2011.
Jeanne McIver Retired church educator Jeanne McIver is now the volunteer director of the Learning Resource Center at Southminster Presbytery in Dayton, OH.