Anderson, Indiana

Exploring Christian education from a Wesleyan holiness perspective

Mon, 2011-07-25 10:33 -- univcomm
July 25, 2011

by Dr. John Aukerman, professor of Christian Education, director of distance education, and director of outcomes assessment at the Anderson University School of Theology.

I was hired to teach in the Anderson University School of Theology in 1984, and have searched in vain for a good comprehensive textbook to use in my Christian education classes. Every new book that came along was either incomplete, or had a theological bent that was inconsistent with our Wesleyan holiness tradition.

So you can imagine my interest when I received a desk copy of a new Christian education book in the Fall of 2008. I thought to myself, "Maybe this is the book I've been looking for!" So I took it home one weekend and started reading.

I hadn't gotten more than four chapters into it when I saw that there was no way I could use that book. First, it was too simplistic: for example, it attempted to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity with various drawings of triangles. Second, it was too biased toward a particular theological perspective and would have required constant explanations in class about why we don't believe this way.

Now you can imagine my disappointment. After so many years of looking for "the right textbook," here was another one that failed to measure up. I noticed that it had been written by two Christian education professors, and I thought, while I certainly didn't have the ability to write "the right textbook," perhaps I could team up with my counterparts in our other Church of God institutions and together we could write this book!

So I contacted each Church of God school and asked if their professors would be interested in such a collaboration. All but two responded positively, and we were off and running!

aukerman-bookI realized that we would need a publisher, so I approached Warner Press, the publishing company of Church of God Ministries. They would be interested in such a book, especially if the contributors were from a wider circle than "just" Church of God writers. I saw the wisdom in that, and contacted a range of Nazarene and Wesleyan universities and seminaries, seeking professors who would be interested in contributing a chapter or two.

The list had grown to seven or eight writers, and we still needed a greater number, so I contacted some of my recent seminary graduates (whom I knew were good scholars and could write well enough for a text book!) and solicited their assistance. In the end, there were 14 of us who wrote this book, covering a number of topics including a description of what makes a Wesleyan holiness perspective on Christian education unique.

In the summer of 2010, the manuscript was complete and I transmitted it to Warner Press!

It was my privilege to serve as general editor for Discipleship That Transforms: An Introduction to Christian Education from a Wesleyan Holiness Perspective, and an unexpected blessing to be able to use it in the classroom when I taught my "Educational Foundations for Christian Ministry" course in May and June, 2011.

I was deeply impressed with the quality and content of this book. My 13 colleagues who contributed their 24 chapters did a superb job — I could not have written those chapters nearly as well as they did!

I feel that together, we have made a lasting contribution to the discipline of Christian education, especially in Wesleyan holiness schools. This book was intended to fill an empty place in academia, and to hold its own for the next 20 years, and I'm sure that it will. We offer it to our sister institutions with love, joy, and appreciation, and hope they will find it useful in their classes in discipleship, spiritual formation, and Christian education.

For more information or to purchase Discipleship that Transforms, visit the Warner Press Website.

— Dr. John Aukerman is professor of Christian Education, director of distance education, and director of outcomes assessment at the Anderson University School of Theology.

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Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.