One role of the Christian missional educator is that of imitator of Christ. Some call this an incarnational role, others embodiment. “Embodiment literally means to give flesh to the ideas and experiences that animate us” (1). The educator in a missional-Christian education setting imitates Christ who gave flesh to the truth and life that animated him by the Spirit. The content of one’s teaching “cannot be passed on through mere writing and books: it is always communicated life itself, by the [teacher] to the community [of learning], from teacher to disciple, and from believer to believer” (2).
Before Christian educators work hard to emulate Christ’s methods of teaching, however, they must first depend much on his Spirit’s enablement to become the kind of person Jesus was: humble, God-honoring, Spirit-dependent, truth-loving, merciful, and gracious, etc.. As Christian teachers aim to become servants (ones who do not lord their authority over their students), only then will they become teachable, and able to transparently and creatively imitate Christ’s various teaching methods.
Another role of the Christian missional educator is that of guide. The Spirit-led teacher functions as a guide in the student’s discovery and learning process. In the teaching/learning event, the teacher is involved as “one who attempts to know and understand, as well as is possible, those whom he or she is teaching” (3) This close-knit teacher/learner relationship grows and is maintained through “steady state” community—everyday life together.
(1) Hirsch, Alan. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church. (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006), 114.
(2) Ibid., 115.
(3) Young, Mark. “Appropriate Forms of Theological Education in Mission Settings: A Context Sensitive Planning Approach.” (1996), 15.