In the truest sense, Christian education begins with our assembling around Word and Sacrament each week to gladly hear and learn God’s Word as it is taught and proclaimed. Through Word and Sacrament, “the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it united with Jesus Christ in the one truth faith” (Martin Luther’s Small Catechism).
One of St. Matthew’s great strengths is its adult Christian education program. In addition to several Sunday school classes, adults have these opportunities to learn with the pastor:
Conversations, Mondays @ 12 Noon – a discussion of next week’s preaching text;
Evening Prayer & Bible Study, Mondays @ 6pm – an interactive study of one of the four gospels;
Crossways Bible Study, Wed @ 6 p.m. & Thurs @ 10 a.m. – an in-depth exploration of all the books of the Bible, taught on Wednesday evening and repeated on Thursday morning.
Sunday School @ 9:45 am
Parents of children under 3 may sign their child into the nursery and go off to teach or to participate in an adult class, or they may stay with the child(ren).
Growing in Christ Sunday School (classes begin September 6)
9:45 a.m. Sunday School opening for all ages in the Fellowship Hall
10-10:45 a.m. Classes meet
Preschool class for ages 3-4 (Room 106).
Lower Elementary class for kindergarten – 2nd graders (Room 109).
Upper Elementary class for 3rd – 5th graders (Room 110).
Middle school class for 6th-8th graders (Downstairs McSwain).
High school class for 9th-12th graders (Youth Room).
“The Wired Word” is an adult class led by Vivian Alexander. The course features a different current event each week. What does God’s Word have to say to that event? Lively discussions occur each week. (Library)
“Master Builder Bible Study,” led by Dave Sundberg, looks at daily faith and life of participants through a weekly Bible story (Room 112).
“Living the Lord’s Prayer,” led by Howard Beuerman, is a discussion class of the book by the same name (Room 114).
“Lutheranism: Catholic and Evangelical” is an adult class led by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Zumwalt. Students will study the creeds of the western Church in the fall and then the Augsburg Confession during the winter and spring (Room 117).
A Word about Raising Children in the Christian Faith from Pastor Sam
Lutheran Christians are monergists. In obedience to our Lord’s command to preach the Gospel to all ethnic groups, we proclaim that the Triune God does the work of saving us sinners. These are Luther’s classic words, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith” (Small Catechism, Explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed).
Christian parents say “yes” to the following pastoral charge at the Baptism of their children: “You should, therefore, faithfully bring them to the services of God’s house, and teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. As they grow in years, you should place in their hands the Holy Scriptures and provide for their instruction in the Christian faith, that, living in the covenant of their Baptism and in communion with the Church, they may lead godly lives until the day of Jesus Christ” (Lutheran Book of Worship, p. 121).
After the washing with water, the laying on of hands, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God speaks this promise to the newly baptized: “[Name], child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” God uses Holy Baptism to draw us from sin, death, and evil into the eternal life and love that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share. Because on earth we Christians continue to live in-between the old culture of death and the new culture of life, we need to hear God’s Word day after day to remember who and whose we are!
St. Matthew’s education ministry exists to help parents keep the promises made at Baptism while working to strengthen the baptismal identity of all who gather with us. Each September we give parents age-appropriate Bibles to place in the hands of their three-year-olds, third graders, and sixth graders. Parents and grandparents serve as Sunday school teachers, telling the children the story of God’s great love in Jesus Christ. Teachers use a variety of media to make God’s story come alive for their students.
As the children move into the middle school years, Sunday school continues to be Bible study, but students also attend midweek Confirmation instruction on Wednesdays. Adult mentors supplement the pastor’s teaching of Luther’s Small Catechism by building relationships and a sense of community through small group time. We encourage students to participate weekly in Sunday afternoon youth groups and to attend summer camp. In these ways, we reinforce the Christian culture of life over and against the death-dealing culture in which students spend most of their days.
With the parents’ and grandparents’ help, we hope to have laid a strong Christian foundation for students long before they enter the turbulent years of adolescence and young adulthood. St. Matthew’s continues to offer our high school students Bible study in Sunday school and youth group later that evening. Each summer youth are also encouraged to attend summer camp and to participate in mission work.