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Through-Lines: Defining What a Christian Is

Through-Lines Defining Christian

Today’s post comes from Ron VandenBurg, Sr. Producer of Children’s Ministry at ReFrame Media.
This post is the first in a series called Through-Lines.
For more information and resources, please also visit The Prairie Centre for Christian Education.

Let’s pretend that together we are taking a photography class. Our assignment is to take a picture of a Christian. The photo must be distinct with ample evidence that the person in the photo is indeed a Christian. Waiting for Sunday morning, we can run to a church, but how do we find Christians 24/7?

Researchers Christian Smith and Melina Lundquist Denton have asked teens what they think it means to be Christian. Some answered, “God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions” and “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”1 These descriptions of moral, nice, and happy people, however, don’t really tell us what a Christian is.

As Christians, we want to tell a bigger story. We want our children to know that they are a part of God’s big story- where God is the main character of the story. He’s got a restoration project in place to save every square inch of His creation from the sin in it.  God sent His son to save creation, and now we (and our children) are called by God to restore creation. God is fixing it, and we can help.

That puts us all in God’s story. God has gifted us with particular skills and talents so that we Christians can play our part in that restoration project. The Prairie Center for Christian Education has developed a set of ten Biblical characteristics called “through-lines” that can help us all – parents, teachers, ministry leaders, and children – to understand what our roles are. These characteristics weave through the Bible, and describe a calling to “be,” not simply to “do.” And what does God call us to “be?” He calls us to be Servant Workers, to be Justice Seekers, to be Earth Keepers, to be Community Builders. He calls us to be Creation Enjoyers, Idolatry Discerners, Order Discoverers, and Beauty Creators. And in all of these He calls every disciple to be God Worshippers and Image Reflectors.

Here we get a wider picture of the roles that God has called us to be as Christians. Are these descriptors the only ones? That’s a good discussion. In the following blogs, I’ll discuss each through-line and give some suggestions of how ministry leaders can intentionally shape their curriculum and leadership styles. I’ll also give suggestions of how families can create faith-formative activities that help children learn what a Christian can be.

 


1Smith, Christian, and Melinda Lundquist. Denton. Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. 162-163.

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