Winter 1998

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Editor: Mark Edward Simpson, 4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918

In This Issue

Perspectives on Ourselves by Dave Rahn
Reflections on Conference 97 by Elaine Becker
Kenneth Gangel Honored with Distinguished Christian Educator Award by Jim Davies
NAPCE Financial Report by Dennis Williams
Book Reviews by Mark Lamport
NAPCE 98 Preview
News Briefs
NAPCE 97 in Pictures
Member Profile Card

Perspectives on Ourselves

Dave Rahn, President

What a wonderful conference we just participated in! Mega-kudos go to Dr. Daryl Eldridge for not only planning a good experience, but challenging us with a theme and direction that fell into that cutting edge category of innovative risk-taking. Im sure there are standardized expectations in various other disciplines related to professional development; chances are that we might have pushed those in our recent South Carolina gathering. However, I believe that Daryl was right on target in identifying our own personal spiritual renewal as inextricably linked to our professorial performances. Such perspective-broadening is usually a bit discomforting, almost always healthy.

Im still chewing over the data I picked up in the post-NAPCE conference of Youth Ministry Educators. About 30 of us who had attended NAPCE joined another 40 persons who teach in the Christian education related field of youth ministry. Well, actually, not everyone in attendance felt that youth ministry is (or should be) related to Christian education. In a remarkably frank exchange during one afternoon session, I think I heard a couple of perspectives on NAPCE that dont coincide with my own experience. Rather than dismiss them out of hand, I thought Id pass them on with a few comments.

Perspective #1Christian education may still be widely thought of as church-based programming, targeted toward believers, methodologically-driven, and exemplified by Sunday School. For modern youth ministers, Sunday School often represents the sort of sacred-cow program that diverts considerable energy from what they would like to do if they were to reach their idealized vision of effectiveness. Much of what takes place in healthy youth ministries transcends the churchs adult-satisfying structures, extends toward evangelistic mission in nonformal settings, and is driven by universally true principles of ministry. I can understand some youth ministry profs hesitancy to align with professors of Christian education, given their view of what Christian education means.

On the other hand, their fear is totally inconsistent with my experience at NAPCE. Ive found tremendous collegial support for my view of Christian education as a principled discipline that focuses on the task of helping persons enter into and grow in their life-transforming relationship with God. I am at a loss to understand how Christian education, thus defined, is not centrally relevant to any practical ministry&including youth ministry.

Listening to these few persons share their perspectives at the YME forum reminded me that, in spite of the immediate world I travel in where Christian education is borderline noble (!), some ministry practices taking place in church trenches offer an operational definition of CE that needs to be challenged and corrected. Chances are that the most influential opportunities to facilitate such reflection wont take place in our conferences or classrooms; lets keep our eyes and ears open while we move through the churches in our world.

clregstr.jpg (197839 bytes) Bob Pazmiņo shares tips on the conference facilities with Elizabeth Conde-Frazier during NAPCE registration.

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Perspective #2Even among adult professionals, the "look" of us Christian educators can apparently be a put-off. One brave soul at our YME forum confessed that there was a stuffiness in our dress, our academically-inflated language and conference decor that said to him, "I dont fit here." I was incredulous! (Unless thats too elitist, in which case I was simply amazed.) Ive been attending NAPCE conferences faithfully since 1987. There have been persons who wear clothes that I would not wear, and use words that test the limits of my own vocabulary, but I have been invigorated and challenged by these colleagues. Further, I am always appreciative of the Lords marvelous diversity of gifts when I get to know someone different from me. Ive felt welcome and have met plenty of people with whom I could connect.

What an interesting perspective of NAPCE this represents! I know that there are those in our membership who think we ought to conduct ourselves with more propriety, become more professional than we have been. At the YME forum I heard a voice on the other side of the spectrum, exceeding my own Mr. Casual position on this issue. It reminds me that assimilation dynamics, even for a professional organization like NAPCE, need to be attended to. In Reaching a Generation for Christ, Mark Senter has observed that high school students will not be theologically mature until they are sociologically comfortable. Maybe there is still a bit of high school in all of us.

Please hear me well. The perspectives I picked up from a minority of participants at the Youth Ministry Educators forum are foreign to my experience at NAPCE, but I still think theyre still worth thinking about.

Reflections on Conference 97

Elaine Becker, Salvation Army

Innovations of the Heart and Mind: From Main Street into the Future was the theme which captured the attention of the 1997 participants in the annual NAPCE conference. The excited sounds of colleagues meeting and the energetic conversations of friends reuniting with friends filled the air as the Grand Ballroom came alive on Thursday, October 16th. From the outset of the meetings a sense of caring and encouragement was evident as participants readily shared how God had been working in their lives.

The plenary sessions were inspirational as Benjamin Harlan ministered in music and Calvin Miller opened the Word of God. Calvin read a modern parable in each of four plenary sessions from his new book An Owners Manual for the Unfinished Soul. The parables, both humorous and challenging in nature, called those present to take seriously the condition of their own heart and life. The challenge came to move deliberately into the presence of God and to give time to develop and guard inward spiritual beauty. From that source of inwardness, profession is made by the true Professor. Such a definition of professor goes much deeper than merely giving forth a message, but a true professor lives the truth in daily lifestyle.

clcalmil.jpg (395938 bytes) Calvin Miller challenges NAPCE members with modern parables during a plenary session.

Click on the image to view full size.

Workshops were offered allowing those present to choose subjects which best fit their particular circumstance, interest and need. From Researching Children in Christian Educational Contexts to The Christian Educators Role in Spiritual Formation, each of the presenters stimulated thinking and engaged the participants in discussion.

Kevin Compton spoke of "Change" particularly related to the technological advances within a global society. He reported that, while it took 23 years for the first million telephones to be sold in the USA, and nine years for the first million color televisions to be sold, only two years were needed to sell the first million cellular phonesand only six months to add one million users to the Internet. Change at such a rapid pace and the wealth of information is affecting the way education is done and the need exists for educators to keep pace. Some sessions called participants to action, while others called for reflection and soul searching. Herein lies the challenge of our professionto hold in balance the personal relationship with God and profess truth effectively in a rapidly changing context.

Kenneth Gangel Honored with Distinguished Christian Educator Award

Jim Davies, Simpson College

In October 18th during the annual conference, Dr. Kenneth O. Gangel was honored by the NAPCE membership as this years recipient of the Distinguished Christian Educator Award. Kens wife Betty was present for the award, as was his son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren who made a surprise appearance. The following excerpts are from the presentation:

In a career spanning 37 years, Ken Gangels two professional lovesclassroom teaching and higher education administrationcan easily be seen. He served 12 years in undergraduate teaching while jointly holding the varied positions of Christian service director, registrar, academic dean, and academic vice-president. He was professor and founding director of the School of Christian Education at Tr