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Practicing Christian Education

An Introduction for Ministry

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This accessible introduction to the broad scope of Christian education focuses on its practice in the local church. Two leading experts argue that Christian education encompasses all of the intentional practices of the local church, including worship, mission, sacraments, and teaching. They explore Christian education not only as a field of study but as a vital congregational ministry, showing how congregations can engage in discipleship and formation for spiritual growth. The book features exercises and other pedagogical devices and includes reflection questions and suggestions for further reading.

1. The Value of Christian Education
2. Biblical Principles for Practicing Christian Education
3. Theology for Practicing Christian Education
4. The History of Practicing Christian Education
5. Education as Christian
6. Christian Education as Ministry
7. Learning to Be a Christian
8. Scripture as Formation
9. Congregational Education and Formation
10. Christian Formation
11. Developmental Theory
12. Life Span Development
13. Christian Education and Church Health
14. Teaching for Discipleship
15. Leading and Administrating Christian Education
16. A Path toward Spiritual Maturity: Curriculum
17. Equipping for Service


"This short volume is a practical introduction to the theory and practice of Christian education ministry. Maddix and Estep provide an overview of critical aspects of educational ministry that promote spiritual vitality, growth, and maturity, with ideas for how this can be carried out in a variety of ministry settings. This one-volume introduction will be useful in introductory courses, providing a taste of important issues and approaches in educational ministry, and it includes helpful questions for reflection or group discussion."

Kevin E. Lawson, director of PhD and EdD programs in Educational Studies and professor of Christian education, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; editor of the Christian Education Journal

"Christian education is a disappearing label in ministry preparation, but through this timely book we are reminded that Christian education is neither obsolete nor optional, regardless of cultural trends. Whatever names or titles we use to describe the work of spiritual formation in our churches, whether the curriculum is planned, structured, hidden, or null, it is all Christian education. Practicing Christian Education discusses the biblical, historical, and theological foundations and nature of what is to be taught in and through the church. I am most enthusiastic about the compelling case that Maddix and Estep make for the integration of faith and education, of faith and the social sciences, and of faith and culture. This book has reignited my zeal for ministry preparation that has a curricular core of Christian education."

Karen E. Jones, professor of ministry and missions; director of Veritas Theology Institute, Huntington University

"My gentle Wesleyan brothers have sounded the educational trumpet once again by reminding every church leader, 'Your congregation is a learning organization.' Shout it from the housetops! Their unifying perspective untangles us from worship wars and avoids the temptation of ministry silos. Their synthesis of educational history and the social sciences' contribution to learning theory will serve well those entering church ministry. When I send students looking for a one-sentence philosophy of church education, I hope they find, 'Ministry was meant to be shared by the many, not hoarded by the few.'"

Michael Lawson, author of Directing Christian Education: The Changing Role of the Christian Education Specialist

"This book provides a comprehensive overview of the most common concepts and theories shaping the practice of Christian education in North America over the past three decades. Written at an introductory level, this book contains the foundational knowledge that will benefit every undergraduate coming to seminary and every layperson who has ever prepared a teaching segment. Readers will find the numerous summative charts especially useful."

Chris Kiesling, professor of human development and Christian discipleship, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Mark Maddix and James Estep provide a down-to-earth introduction to Christian education, providing core values, biblical principles, and historical and theological insight, as well as offering strategies for forming and educating persons in and through local congregations. The book addresses the full range of teaching (formal and nonformal) while orienting the reader to a number of social science insights and educational principles. Written for those first exploring educational ministry, the book introduces the reader to key terminology and insights through very accessible chapters. A great addition for anyone wanting to know more about the practice and process of Christian education."

Dean G. Blevins, professor of practical theology and Christian discipleship, Nazarene Theological Seminary

"Maddix and Estep give us a carefully crafted text that hits just the right chords for teachers, pastors, and Christians called upon to disciple others. It concentrates on the important things, yet it avoids overdosing the beginner. You will be shocked at the amount of good stuff these pages contain! Most importantly, Practicing Christian Education delivers as advertised, introducing the reader to the leading theories and best practices of this crucial ministry."

Mark H. Heinemann, professor of educational ministries and leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary

The Authors

  1. Mark A. Maddix
    Marcus Emerson

    Mark A. Maddix

    Mark A. Maddix (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior pastor of San Dieguito United Methodist Church in Encinitas, California. He formerly served as dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry at Point Loma Nazarene University and...

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  2. James Riley Estep Jr.
    Anne Fincher Photography

    James Riley Estep Jr.

    James Riley Estep Jr. (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is vice president of academics at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri. He previously taught at Lincoln Christian University. He is the author or coauthor of several...

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