日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

2nd Christian Education Seminar Convened in Shizuoka


by Hirata Kazuko, member
Committee on Education, Osaka District
Director of Christian Education, Handago Church
Included among the many ministries of the Kyodan Committee on Education is the important work of supporting church school Christian education. A Christian Education Seminar is conducted biannually. The previous one was held in March 2008 in Shikoku District, where those who serve in church school ministry gathered, had fellowship, and prayed for one another. I highly appreciated this year's event, which was hosted by Tokai District at Shizuoka Church on March 9. As the speaker, I was greatly encouraged and strengthened by the presence of the 57 participants who attended, despite the rain, and particularly by their passion for Christian Education.
"The Joy of Being Called by God"
(Summary of the seminar presentation)
I serve as the Director of Christian Education at Handago Church, situated at the foot of Kongozan (Mt. Kongo) in Gose City, in the southern part of Nara Prefecture. Although public transportation is not so good, the church sits in a beautiful setting. It was started over 60 years ago by a pastor with physical disabilities. A day nursery stands next to the church, helping the ministry of the church. Children now at this nursery, as well as those who attended in the past, are linked to the church school. Some have become key members of the church. Before I came to serve in my present position five years ago, I was asked to develop the work of church school so that it could contribute further to church growth.
The pastor suddenly passed away three years ago. Even though the church has an interim pastor, in practice, I have been given the task of looking after the church and building it up in the absence of a pastor. There are 20 to 30 children in our church school, which is less than what we had last year. Every Sunday morning, parents drive their children to church to attend church school. Now, parents stay on for the church school service, which is a blessing to us.
Over the past several years, many people have voiced concern about the crisis of church schools in Japan. Kyoshi no Tomo (Teachers' Friend) has published special features on church school training in various parts of Japan. Many seminars have tackled the issue as well. The situation remains unchanged although various attempts have been made. The social situations children face raise various challenges for us. Church school is not merely a play group for children. It is where God the Creator meets them--the One who created each one of them and who loves them as his treasures. The church, as well as the church school must communicate this to the outside world.
Some people may lament that there are so few children at church, sometimes none at all. The church has gone through various phases in its history. Sometimes multitudes flocked to it. Other times the light was barely lit. Still the church has remained standing, which brings us to the present. As our Lord Jesus taught in the parable of a mustard seed, a small seed is sowed and grows to become a huge tree. What we can do is to sow these seeds. We do not need to hurry. As we sow them, they will bring a plentiful harvest, for the one who gives the growth is our Creator.
For this purpose, I consider it essential to worship God during church school and to preach the Word of God. On this day the Lord sends us his children. On this day I speak from his word to them. The seeds that I have sowed today will surely bear fruit in the hearts of the children.
Another important aspect is the church calendar. We pass on to the next generation the history of our faith, which has been passed on to us over the years. Rather than being discouraged by what we are unable to do, we need to be more creative and have more fun in our program-making. Church school materials contain many new ideas, but we do not always have to do what others are doing. We can create our own material, as suits each situation, and have fun with it. I feel that the Lord has called me into this type of ministry. Let us be encouraged and walk steadily and unhurriedly with the One who guides us as we serve him. (Tr. YY)
  場所・日本キリスト教団 静岡教会にて
 そのために、私が教会学校で大切にしていること、それはしっかりと「教会学校の礼拝」を守ること、聖書の言葉を語ること。今日、教会学校に来た子どもにしっかりと、今日、聖書の言葉を語るこを大切にしている。今日、私たちが蒔いた聖書の言葉が、子どもたちの心の中で、育っていく。 そして、もうひとつ「教会暦」を大切にしている。長い教会の歴史の中で、伝えられてきた信仰の歴史を伝える。もうじきイースター、どんなプログラムを予定しているか?あれもできない、これもできないと意気消沈するのでなく、明るく楽しく教会学校を自分から楽しんで活動してほしい。教会学校の分野から生み出された教育方法(ペープサート、絵話し等)も多くある。
            吐田郷教会 キリスト教教育主事
                   平田 和子

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