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Barna, G. (2003). Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.

DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., Many, T. W., Mattos, M. (2016). Learning by doing: A handbook for professional learning communities at work (3rd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Ham, K. and Beemer, B. (2009). Already Gone: Why your kids will quit the church and what you can do to stop it. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.

Jensen, E. (2013). Engaging students with poverty in mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joiner, R. (2009). Think Orange. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

Joiner, R. and Ivy, K. (2015). It’s just a phase so don’t miss it: Why every life stage of a kid matters and at least 13 things your church should do about it. Cumming, GA: Orange.

Powell, K. E. and Clark, C. (2011). Sticky Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


other STF links

iWhy: (Feature)

Anatomy of an Outstanding Coach (AMDnet)

Beyond the Classroom (SECnet)


LEA is looking for writers

LEA is looking for writers in front-line ministries for articles in future ShapingtheFuture magazine pieces. If you would like to write, contact ed.grube@lea.org (do not reply to this publication) to express and discuss your interests.


MIddle School Educators network

clibng and trustingDeveloping a Faith-Training Curriculum

During January 2011, I received honest feedback about our religion classes from four eighth-grade students, and I did not like it at all. The students I chose to talk to were very different from one another, but the theme of their feedback was the same: We don’t like religion classes because it doesn’t help us with life. One girl said it best when she shared, “I prefer health class because those are real issues that we face in life every day. Religion class is just giving us answers to questions we don’t even have.” When she said this, I offered to answer any questions they had, and I received 45 minutes of deep theological questions about living faith in today’s world—their world.

The students learned a great deal about the truths of Scripture, but they were not trained to use those truths to navigate their life in a meaningful way.After meeting with these four students over the course of four weeks, I more clearly understood why 61 percent of young adults who used to be “churched” have spiritually disengaged (Barna as cited in Ham and Beemer, 2009). The students learned a great deal about the truths of Scripture, but they were not trained to use those truths to navigate their life in a meaningful way. It appeared to me that engagement in their faith formation was already in decline.

Scripture often mentions training (Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 22:6) as important for the task of passing faith on to the next generation of believers. The Bible primarily tasks parents with doing this training with their children. Teachers in our Lutheran schools are also powerful influences in the faith formation of the next generation, and the role of Christian teachers is very important. In relation to teaching and training, Paul writes something very important in I Corinthians 4:14-16: “I am writing this not to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me”(NIV).

Guardians refers to teachers, instructors, or pedagogues. Paul is clarifying that the learning of information is not as valuable as a father who will teach his child the trade—like an apprentice. Paul becomes that “father” for the Christians to learn the trade of faith, since they already have the knowledge. Paul highlights the difference between teaching and training. Both have value, but Paul warns those who have only been taught and not trained.

learning from grandfatherConsider this: If you had to have surgery today, would you want a surgeon who was taught how to perform the surgery or a surgeon who was taught how to perform the surgery and trained with a veteran surgeon until deemed prepared? Which surgeon do you want cutting you open? Do you want the surgeon who was taught or both taught and trained?

I began to consider what a Lutheran school could do to help parents and teachers work together to teach and train students in the faith. Over the course of many discussions with faculty, pastors, parents, and students, here are some objectives for making a change in our school’s faith formation processes:

Training in faith does not detract from the truth of Scripture or solid doctrinal teaching, but training upholds Scripture, doctrine, and its application to daily living. Faith training in our middle school is now something students look forward to and enjoy, but I think it is time for me to get four more students together to see what I can learn today about how to best provide them with solid faith training that will lead them to a life-long journey of faith.

Julian Petzold serves as principal at Trinity Lutheran School in Clinton Township, Mich. He has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and master’s degree in educational leadership, and he is currently working on his doctoral degree in educational leadership. Julian is married with three children whom he and his wife, Jennifer, have enjoyed teaching and training in their faith.

Photos © iStock/Mark Rose, Fstop123