How many people here went to Catholic school as children? I ask this because I want to see how many people here today can relate to my own experience growing up in Montreal and going to Catholic school. One of the features of my early education was the presence of religious training.
- We were taught the Catechism
- We were trained in worship
- We were in a system that acknowledged that there was a God and Jesus Christ was the Lord.
I came to know God and Jesus through the religious training I received in school. I also was instructed in morals, and proper conduct based on Christian principles by the teachers I had in school. Back in those days, students did not disrespect their teachers. There was no graffiti in the schools. No one was ever shot in schools. Students didn't go on strike and teachers didn't use bad language in class.
I am grateful for the religious training I received back then. Oh, it wasn't perfect. Teachers had too much power. There was abuse of students by some teachers.
What we were taught about our faith was not always Biblical or accurate. For example #7 and #137 in Catechism.
This is why when I grew up and could think and study for myself, I left the Catholic church in search of a church which resembled more accurately the church in the Bible. The Lord eventually led me here and for the last 29 yrs. I have practiced N.T. Christianity as a member of the churches of Christ.
Of course, we are not perfect either, but I believe that our goal of simply following the N.T. in our practice of faith results in a Christianity that is, by nature purer, and by practice more effective than the religion of my youth. Now, I've shared these things with you in order to make the following point:
I don't miss my Catholic religious experience, but I am sorry to see that our society has abandoned all forms of religious education in our schools. In an effort to respect all religions the government has eliminated all religious education in schools. The interesting thing here is that in order to not offend other "non-Christian" religions, the government has eliminated Christian teachings in our educational system
Students will now study about all religions in the world. But if you were to go to the countries that are "non-Christian" however, you would see that these countries promote their own religions in school but forbid Christianity to be taught or practiced.
Canada is the only country in the world that sacrifices its own religious heritage in order to defend and promote the religions of other nations among its people. The consequences of this movement away from religious instruction (Catholic or Protestant) in school are evident.
We have a generation of children that have little or no knowledge of God or Christ. The rate of crime, sexual activity, violence, and drug-use among youth is rising. Children are being sexualized and abused at a greater rate and younger age. A generation of people are growing up without the set of values or spiritual hope that Christian education provides.
For example, when I was young and tempted to do something wrong and the question arose "Why not?" - My religious education provided many answers - today this isn't the case.
The ironic part in all of this is that our educators and government tell us that religious education should be provided by the home, by parents. This "sounds" good, but when you examine this statement, there are many flaws (problems)
- Where are parents going to get this info? Especially those who have been educated in this system where no religious education is given?
- In Quebec more than ½ of the children are born to single parents who have to depend on day care to train their children. These parents don't usually have the resources or time to provide this kind of training.
- No one would expect parents to teach math or biology to their children. Why do we think parents are the best ones to teach children about the Christian religion?
Now every action has a consequence, every action a reaction, and the consequences of this move away from religious education in schools has had some positive benefits also:
A. There are many "private" religious schools that are being established.
These are grade schools, high schools, and colleges that provide regular education but also provide training in the Christian religion in a highly moral environment.
I have been to one of these Universities (OC) in the U.S. to get a University degree and I also serve on the board of Directors for a private Christian High School and College here in Canada (GLCC / GLBC).
More and more parents are wanting their children to be educated in the Christian environment that these private schools provide.
B. Another benefit of this situation is that churches are being forced once again to become the providers of religious education - a role they had given up to public education for many years.
There are many parents who want religious and moral education for their children but don't know where to get it - this is where the church can help.
With the remainder of this lesson, I'd like to explain to you the two ways we here at Verdun plan to support and promote religious and moral education.
I. Supporting and Promoting Christian Religious and Moral Education
1. Support GLCC / GLBC in Ontario
In Canada there are two main Private Christian education centers supported by the churches of Christ. There is a high school and bible college in Regina, Saskatchewan (WCC) There is a high school and Bible college near Toronto, Ontario (GLCC / GLBC).
GLCC is a private school where students live on campus. They receive a high school education in a Christian environment and take Bible courses as part of their curriculum.
GLBC is a small private college that provides training for future church leaders, missionaries, and ministers. GLBC grants BA in Bible, Religion, or Theology.
We can support the school in several ways. Encourage our children or others to attend this school. Join the school corporation by becoming a corporation member.
Here's how the schools are set up:
A. The school itself and its students
B. The President of the school oversees the operation of the institution.
C. Board of Directors hires the President - he reports to them. They produce policy, goals, etc.
D. The board of directors are chosen from the corporation members.
Members of corporation responsible for:
i. Raising funds
ii. Appointing members to the board
iii. Enforce by-laws and policies
E. Corporation Members recruited from churches of Christ.
I am on the board of directors and part of my job is to find new members to join the corporation.
It costs $25 per year per person to be a corp. member. You receive reports, newsletters, info on school, invitations to special college events.
I'm inviting each member of our congregation over 18 years of age to become a voting member of the GLCC / GLBC corp. Fill out a brochure and include a check and give it to me.
This is one way that you can support and promote Christian education and the training of future ministers in Canada and Quebec, a second way to promote and support Christian education…
2. Support and Promote Verdun Kid's Club
Here in Verdun we want to minister to the people of this community. One way to do that is to offer religious and moral education from a Christian perspective.
- The schools are not doing it
- Very few churches are offering it
- Parents are not trained to do it
We see an opportunity for service to the people in our neighborhood. Here's how our program will work:
A. Each Sunday morning Roger and his team will have a special kind of Bible class for kids using puppets, stories, games, and crafts.
The club will include Coco, Mr. Mystery, a teacher, Coco's friends, and the children in the class.
B. Every 3-4 months we will have a campaign with posters and flyers inviting kids in the neighborhood to come to one of Coco & Friends shows which will be presented on Sunday afternoons.
We present the puppets, Mr. Mystery, prizes, and lessons but we will add 2 new features.
We will have our own children get up and sing / recite scripture in different languages etc.
Then someone will invite parents to register their children for our regular kid's club program of religious and moral education every Sunday morning.
Every few months we will recruit new kids to join our Sunday morning class.
In this way we will be teaching children God's word and bringing them to Christ.
Hopefully this will also influence parents and the rest of the family to hear the gospel as well.
We need volunteers who will work with Roger and Diane each Sunday, and volunteers who will help out when we have our special community outreach every few months.
You will see in the bulletin and hear in the announcements when we will be needing this help.
13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" 16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?"17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
- Rom. 10:13-17
This passage is apropos for our time and place. Those who believe are those who are saved. But in order to believe you must hear. And in order to hear someone must preach / teach God's word. And in order to preach one must be trained and sent.
This is the work of Christian education. To teach people (especially young ones) in the words of Christ. To prepare men and women to serve Christ and the church. To train preachers to go out and preach the word.
Today I call on each of us to take personal responsibility for a portion of this work - it will be an investment in the future of our society and church.