Yesterday we shared a review of The History of Christianity from a Pastor in Indiana who viewed it in his Sunday night meetings. We asked him a few questions about it and this is what he had to share.
Ed, tell us a little about the church you pastor. How would you describe your church in three sentences?
Our church is Bible-centered and Bible-content driven. We put an emphasis on the Jewish roots of our faith, including a Psalm 1 approach toward growth. We are involved with missions and selective in accepting or rejecting new approaches.
Do you and your family watch many Christian DVDs, Which are your favorites?
Not many except The Jesus film and Veggie Tales. We tend to learn via reading or listening.
What was the makeup of your Sunday night groups? (age, prior knowledge of Christian History, size?)
During the series, we ran around 25, mostly middle or younger adults. Our evening participation is usually pretty small, and this was actually better than usual (many of these were parents whose children were involved in our youth group or kids’ club meeting at the same time). A few of them knew a little about church history, most knew almost nothing. I have used the video portion for my adult Sunday School class when I was away. It was during a quarter when we were not using curriculum and the material I was teaching was self-developed and specialized (Jewish Roots).
What did the group members get out of the study?
For many, it was their first exposure to church history. We had used some other videos over the years: Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Komensky, First Fruits, Calvin, etc., but the “forest” picture was missing. And that is the strength of this series, it helps paint a picture of the forest. It is very brief, so I played only half of a segment at a time and then added information. This held the attention of our folks, even those who were not into history. The brevity of the series made it ideal for the easily intimidated, and people were left wanting more.
I know that church leaders will often study Church history for a sense of context, encouragement, direction, mentoring and personal enrichment. In your mind, what is the value of having lay-people study church history?
The value, IMO, is not so much personal spiritual growth. The value is in understanding where the various denominations came from and removing some of the mystery of Christendom at large. Part of serving the Lord means using the mind, and seeing the big picture (historically) helps us do this.
Dispelling ignorance is a good thing.
What would you advise to a Sunday School teacher or small group leader who is preparing to use this series in their class?
I think such a teacher needs to understand more than the video itself teaches; even an extremely broad overview of church history (like this) will raise many questions. Reading through a book like Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle Cairns would be good prep. But the teacher must be careful not to fall into the trap of TMI — Too much information. The teacher who prepares by reading such a book must resist the TMI temptation, for it will be strong. The maximum discussion and additional material should not be more than twice the video length, and it should be a combo of lecture AND discussion, targeting the major, not detail.
And the teacher probably needs to know some basic apologetical questions, like, “With all the varieties in Christendom, how do we know our viewpoints are correct?” “What is the final authority in matters of faith and practice?” Additionally, the teacher needs to be doctrinally grounded and should understand the hypostatic union, the Trinity, and the issues of the Reformation, for example. Since many church divisions arose over doctrinal issues, the teacher needs to be fluent in those issues.
Thanks for your thoughts Pastor Ed! You can learn more about Rev. Vasicek’s church and read some of his articles at http://www.highlandpc.com/