A typology of congregation-based Christian education for adults
Rhodes, John Merrill
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The purpose of this study was to create a typology of Christian education programs for adults from the perspective of the local congregation. The 406 congregations came from six mainline Protestant denominations. The data came from a national study on effective Christian education. In the national study denominations were the unit of study; however, in this study, local congregation was the unit of study. Seventeen educationally relevant variables were identified for effective Christian education. These variables were subjected to factor analysis to derive a new, and simpler theoretical framework. The four factors identified were: Focus upon globalization of faith; focus upon nurturing personal faith; clarity in educational programming; and pastoral leadership. Using these factors, a cluster analysis was performed on the sample of local congregations. The analysis disclosed six types of congregation-based Christian education programs for adults. They were: Type 1: congregations with very low focus upon globalization of faith and low pastoral leadership; Type 2: congregations with a very high focus upon nurturing personal faith and a high focus on globalization of faith with high clarity in educational programming, Type 3: congregations with low clarity in educational programming and high pastoral leadership, Type 4: congregations with a very high focus upon globalization of faith and low focus upon nurturing personal faith, Type 5: congregations with very low clarity in educational programming, and Type 6: congregations with a high focus upon nurturing personal faith with high clarity in educational programming and low pastoral leadership. The typology contributes databased as opposed to anecdotal information about the types of congregation-based Christian education programs for adults. The typology may serve as a benchmark for local congregations for the type of program they aspire to have.