“We should kill formal education”

When we say that formal education is failing and is damaging the church, are we forgetting something? The country of Cambodia has a 30% literacy rate – is that what we want to proliferate? Churches that are illiterate, unable to read, let alone able to study the Word of God? Since we seem to like to look to the secular world so much, though the world is the worst model (may we never pattern ourselves after the world!), I will bring this up: The Western world’s educational systems have transformed illiterate cultures to literate cultures – into cultures that are able to critically think and apply what they have learned into their workplaces. Why are we biting the hand that feeds? Have we forgotten how the western world has come to have societies that are educated? Formal training is the basis for all of the western progression – if there was no formal training, where would the western world be? The western world would be right where the third world is, illiterate, and unable to have produced the missions movements that it has, and rather would be struggling for life, for they would have no basis on which to stand.

The Word of God – study of the Word of God, in-depth study of the Word – this is what we can learn from the past. The men of God, the pillars in the church – all were in someway steeped in the Word, not just in the basics, but were plunged into the depths – and this is why they stood tall, because they were deep in God – they knew God deep and so through that knowledge they served God long and faithfully. What are we thinking?



  1. When we say that formal education is failing and is damaging the church… How are “we saying” that formal education is failing? By virtue of the fact that an alarming percentage of high school graduates in the U.S. can’t read their own diplomas? I’m not sure how that helps the church… What is the proposed alternative to formal education? Or is it simply a matter of “formal” = “public”?

    Many of the pillars of the church had public educations that included Greek and Latin — we’ve come a long way since then…


  2. Hey there Lee, good to have you here!

    I was writing more in regards to formal Biblical education (Bible college, seminary). The options as it was presented to me were formal, informal, non-formal.

    I know there are many in the States graduating high-school not knowing how to read, but at the same time, I know that the literacy rate in the States, and in the Western world is way higher than the rest of the world – because of the education system that has been developed – and no, the system is in no way perfect, but I don’t think that means we should just stop sending kids to college.

    Those that were saying formal education is bad were saying that it is failing to produce leaders in the church (3rd world in target). In some ways I agree, in others I feel that totally ignoring the past educational system that has brought up western nations is not the wisest thing to do. Developing godly leaders is not easy – in fact it is really, really hard – apart from God totally impossible.

    Looking at scripture what do we see regarding this? Many things, but just a thought quickly:
    Israel was a nation under God – their children were taught the Scriptures from a very young age, so when we see Jesus calling His disciples we should not forget where, what kind of foundation, they came from.

    What do you do when you live in a country that has been in darkness for over 2000 years? Start from the beginning.


  3. Context is everything :-) I forgot about how much you wrestled with that question before you left. But how do you (or whoever was creating these categories for you originally) define non-formal as opposed to informal?

    I’m not sure how formal education can be completely held responsible for the lack of interest in the rest of the world (and “damages” the church by not growing it worldwide? Is that what is meant?) I think the local church has a HUGE impact in this area — just look at West Hills. No, not every person who has gone out from WHCC to the mission field has had formal seminary education, but those who have have gone to the same schools as many others who haven’t gone to the mission field. Is there any difference in the school experience for them? I suspect not.


  4. First off, I think we should kill formal education.

    “Knowledge puffs up”, you know … :)

    In all seriousness, it is not education that makes a Christan, because Christianity is not simply a set of beliefs and practices to be followed. Christianity is about being called and being obedient.

    Here’s a thought, though: who ARE the pillars of the church? And why?

    Most of the post-reformation candidates were scholars, right? The examples that we have of “pillars” who were servants, or illiterate, etc. are few and far between. But is the problem with the “uneducated”, or with us? Does God measure greatness by literary output, or number of hours per day buried in books? Does God choose a deep knowledge of ancient languages as the hallmark of His disciples? Love is greater than study. God’s Spirit is greater than knowledge.

    Then again, I’m the one with “formal” biblical education, aren’t I? :)


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