In what ways must the success of the Christ in Media Institute depend on contributions from the Elementary Education discipline?

by Dr. Polly Browne

What an exciting opportunity for teachers and students in elementary education. My vision for how we can contribute to the success of the Christ in Media Institute includes ideas for Christian Day School students, Lutheran high school students, youth group members, and our Bethany Lutheran College students. There is a natural connection between evangelism and education, and we are excited to be a part of this endeavor to reach out to and teach lost souls. We in elementary education can be a bridge from the message to the media designers so that a mass media outreach can effectively educate.

One of the components that is missing in most religion curricula in Lutheran schools at the elementary level is that of evangelism. While we rightly emphasize the teaching of Bible History, Luther’s Catechism, and hymnology, our schools tend to focus predominantly on content and very little, if at all, on outreach. Perhaps there is room in any Christian Day School’s religion curriculum to devote some time and practice to sharing the Gospel with others. Together with the Christ in Media Institute, our CDS children could learn how to be active participants in evangelism, to put their faith into practice. For example, some children may be able to apply their creativity and language arts skills to writing screen plays or short essays about Scriptural truths that could educate others. Others might suggest topics for media development (e.g. What if people make fun of me for being a Christian?) or conduct interviews with pre-schoolers and kindergartners in their own schools who will readily and innocently share their faith-based wisdom about their Savior. Our children could be behind and in front of the cameras to share the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ from a child-like perspective. Imagine how powerful such a message would be coming from someone as unintimidating as a child.

Likewise, Lutheran high school students and youth group members could plan, produce, and suggest materials that would appeal to their own age group. After all, they are the experts on what it’s like to be a teen in the 21st century and how to talk to their peers in the age of technology.

Bethany Lutheran College elementary education students, particularly those who are intending to become synod certified and teach in our ELS schools, can play an important role as mentors and even copy editors who can put into practice both their faith and their budding teaching skills as they advise and encourage all of these younger students to clearly express the pure Gospel message.  Beyond the Bethany classroom to a future congregation, elementary education graduates can continue to share their talents and zeal for spreading the Gospel.

As a former Christian Day School teacher and current professor in the elementary education department of Bethany Lutheran College, I am excited to be part of an opportunity to perhaps be the conduit for our congregational schools and our college to work and walk together with a common purpose.  Together with the Christ in Media Institute, we in elementary education can help share the One Thing Needful and provide an education that indeed lasts beyond a lifetime.