Portraits of Teamwork in Biblical Integration

One of the best parts of being a teacher at a Christian school is being a member of a team. Different team members might have different roles, but we are all called to work together to accomplish the mission. At my school, we are working to “produce academic, social and physical excellence through a program where minds and hearts are coming fully alive in Christ.” We need each other, and we can rely on one another. Since biblical integration is what makes Christian education Christian, we are called to support each other in this most important endeavor. Here are a couple examples that I hope will encourage you to engage with your team more:

The Guy Across the Hall

On our spread-out campus, I have the privilege of being one of the few that works in a building with other teachers around. There are only are four teachers in our area, and we are all different. However, my building-mates are all excellent instructors and often teach me by setting an example. Their skillful instruction, thoughtful assessment, and improvement-focused feedback show me what a strong teacher does in real life. One of them recently asked this conflict question in class as a part of of biblical integration:  “How is being entertained without thinking dangerous?” He was helping them grow in worldview thinking. The students were challenged by the fact that all the media they consume has a message—movies have motives, Snapchat posts have intent, songs have underlying assumptions, books have agendas, etc. Therefore, we must think about what we are taking in. We must be aware of it and respond to it.

This teacher shared this great question with me. As a result, I have been able to have similar conversations with students, or follow up with his students on the topic. We have been able to start discussions related to 1) Does all media have presuppositions? 2) Does watching/listening/sharing affect me? If so, how? 3) What can we do to more effectively use media to share the Good News with others?

This teacher helped me practice integration and I love it!

The Moment of Need

Throughout this year, I have gotten numerous emails from fellow teachers about biblical integration. Many teachers find themselves in challenging subjects and feel stuck at times. But, when this happens, they usually just need a starting point. They need a little spark, and then they use that spark to burn down the forest.

For example, this is the content of an email from last week: “I need your help. I am going to be teaching Probability, Tree Diagrams, Line Graphs, Bar Graphs, etc.  Do you have any insight on what I bring in to the lesson? In Science, we are studying the ecosystem (producers, consumers, the food chain, food web). Any ideas that I could use?”

I cannot tell you how much I love to receive these types of emails. Why? Because this teacher is working hard to engage the students with biblical integration, and is not afraid to seek out some help. I responded with a couple of quick ideas:

Math: Probability/Graphs/Diagrams

– Probability: You could share about mutual exclusivity in regard to our faith… That if we are new creations, the old is GONE and the new is here (2 Cor 5:17). It is mathematically impossible to be both new and old.

– Graphs: You can show how these might be used to for self-assessment to chart growth. How often am I reading the Bible/praying? (make a chart for the week)

– Tree Diagram: Make a diagram that shows how amazing it is that God is able to be in perfect control even when it seems like there are so many possibilities. Use the graph to show that with Him, nothing is left up to chance.

Science: Ecosystem

You might make the connection that in an ecosystem everything works together (because God designed it), and everything has a role. We are like that too, in fact, 1 Cor 12 talks about how we are like different members of a body that work together too. But, we are not like animals because we are made in God’s image, so we should look out for the needs of others (Phil 2:1-4).

This teacher may have used these ideas, or she may have developed other, better ones. She may have been able to work out some questions/thoughts that worked better with her long-term unit-planning… or these might have fit well with her class goals. The important thing is that we were able to work together.

Being a part of a team is big. You can contribute when you have help to offer, and you can receive assistance when you need it. God has brought us together, and we can model cooperation, humility, creativity, and commitment to our students and peers as we grow as integrators.

 

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Two Tragedies in Christian Education

My biblical-integration-alert was triggered (in a good way) when watching the trailer for The Riot and the Dance. Take 80 seconds to watch it, and I am sure that you will see the connection as well.

We must remember that we teach the Artist through his art. The whole world truly does speak about Him, and it often speaks loudly. This is called general revelation.

Our job is to help our students make sense of the God’s world by clarifying it with his Word. The Bible is the way we confidently access God’s special revelation. While the world can be loud, the Word is clear. We are on a mission to help our students do more than see–we want them to understand and worship. We work to bring the volume and clarity together. And we must never let this aim slip from our minds.

Tragically, there are many places in the world where the Bible is more than unwelcome. There are places where God’s words are banned. For example, public execution was the consequence of distributing Bibles in North Korea. Christians cannot meet together there without fear. Our freedom to meet and teach from and toward the glory of God is wonderful gift, but its continuation is not guaranteed. We must not squander the advantages that many do not have.

God has given the Christian school in America three great gifts today: access to his own words, access to his wonderful world, and access to an environment conducive to teaching Christianly. It is in light of these gifts that we can see a second tragedy. That sad truth is that many are in the practice of neglecting one or more of these gifts. It is heartbreaking that there are regimes around the world that, out of passion, try to squelch the activities of Christian education. However, is it not also devastating that there are Christian schools in this nation that, out of passivity, do not carry out the mission of truly Christian education?

If you are a Christian educator, make the most of God’s good gifts to you. Let the Lord speak loudly (through the world) and clearly (through the Word) in your classroom.