Protestant Educators

Picture of Julie Gorman

 

Julie Gorman (1936 - ) was born in Marion, Ohio.  She attended Wheaton College where she completed an M.A. in Christian Education under the direction of Lois and Mary LeBar.  She served in churches in Chicago and Southern California for 22 years, completing an M.Div and D.Min. at Fuller Theological Seminary in the process.  She served on the faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary from 1984 until 2013.  She was recognized as a “Distinguished Christian Educator” by the North American Professors of Christian Education in 2004.

Biography

 

Dr. Gorman was born in Marion, Ohio to Dail and Mabel Gorman in 1936.  She was an only child in a small extended family.  Her aunt Gail, her father’s twin sister, lived with the family, cultivating at an early stage the spirit of hospitality that has marked Julie’s life.  Her father worked for the Erie Railroad and her mother was a former nurse and both were actively involved in raising her to know the reality of knowing and loving Jesus within every facet of her growing-up years.  Julie describes her home as, “A loving place where God was a real member of our family and including him and his Word were simply lifestyle responses to everyday situations.”  The American Baptist Church to which the family belonged played an important role in their lives.  Julie remembers the normal rhythms of being present in church numerous times  during the week, her father’s devotion to weekly preparation for his Sunday School teaching,  her parents’ leadership in church activities of all kinds, his their early training  to tithe her allowance, their lifetime conscientious reading of the Scriptures and her mother’s singing hymns to Julie as she rocked her. Julie reminisces, “To this day I cannot hear ‘Marching to Zion’ without being tempted to rock with the beat.” Julie attributes her sense of security, identity and confidence to her home which nurtured in her a devotion to God along with the assurance that He was good and could be trusted.  Her family gave her a deep sense of being loved and valued. This richly relational womb produced the freedom to be creative, the challenge to aspire for excellence, and a positive, “can do” attitude in circumstances when God was clearly leading.

With a love for learning instilled by her father, Julie excelled academically during her youth and graduated as one of the class valedictorians. Outside the classroom she was actively involved in the church youth group, in playing the flute in band, orchestra and music competitions, and in serving as president of the Future Teachers of America. From her time in band and orchestra came a friendship that marked her life and extended her “family.” After she and her parents were privileged to lead this friend to Christ, that friend became like the sister she never had and has remained so for over fifty years, with her children and grandchildren now claimed as “family” by Julie, a God-provided “community” for her as a single person.

Julie attended Wheaton College where she chose a Spanish major. Intending to become a teacher, she took courses in education and completed her practice teaching. But, in doing so, she realized that what she really wanted to do was to teach about Jesus. At Wheaton she came under the influence of the LeBar sisters. Inductive Bible Study with Mary LeBar gave her tools that equipped her for a life-long pursuit of knowing and loving God’s Word.   Philosophy of Christian Education and Teaching the Bible with Lois LeBar were formative courses that laid the groundwork for her entry into the graduate program in Christian Education at Wheaton.  During her graduate school years, she worked in tandem with Lois LeBar, being impacted and shaped in her convictions regarding Christian education not only by classes, but also by Lois’s life and mentoring. LeBar shared speaking opportunities at conferences and introduced her to well-known personages in the field. She tutored Julie in writing for publication, their initial co-authored curriculum (strategized by Lois and written by Julie) was created for junior church in weekly installments which were field tested in a church on the north side of Chicago each Sunday. This three year curriculum was subsequently published by Scripture Press, thus opening the door to the world of publishers and editing to Julie, fresh out of graduate school.  In many ways God was fulfilling a desire sown early in her heart as a child. Being an avid reader she had dreamed of becoming an author. At eight years of age Julie remembers sharpening her pencils and sitting down to “write!” Her first “productions” of short stories were “read and treasured” only by her mother.

After completing her Master’s degree in Christian education, Julie began a 22-year journey as a practitioner of educational ministry in three different churches.  The first phase of the journey took her to Bellevue Baptist Church in Chicago.  From 1961-1968 she was responsible for the development of a multi-generational Christian education ministry, while she specialized in youth ministry. It was in this initial experience in ministry that she learned the value of helping learners develop as disciples who experience in life the truth being taught. During this early stage of her journey she was honored by her church and the Greater Chicago Sunday School Association as their Christian Educator of the Year.

The stage for the second phase of her journey was initiated by a Wheaton classmate who was assuming a position with youth in a Pasadena, California church. It was further accelerated by Julie’s attending a Directors of Christian education conference in Anaheim, California that year (1969). A third significant factor was having previously met Warren Benson who was then serving as Christian Education Pastor at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. The conference trip made possible a visit to Lake Avenue for interviews. With Warren’s enthusiastic endorsement, she joined the Christian education team to serve as Educational Associate, working with children, serving there from 1969 to 1976.  During her tenure she extensively developed the children’s ministry, added a weekday preschool, and enlarged the focus on children to include family life ministry at a time when few such ministries existed in churches.   As her ministry developed, Julie wrote and produced much of the curriculum, including new family-life materials and equipped a group called Children’s Family to carry out the ministry. Julie describes this time “as the beginning of a magnificent, unbelievably fulfilling and creative time.”  A commitment to building a disciple-making community among her volunteers and interns was a central focus of these years.   “My major concern with my staff was that they become more mature, spiritually-developing people.  They could do the ministry, but more important was that they become a community whose lives and ministries were formed and empowered by knowing God.  We weren’t just doing the ministry.  We were building a God-centered, scripture driven family team.”  It was this group that first gave her exposure to Fuller and Biola/Talbot students who were hungry to be mentored in a biblical framework of ministry. With this increasing emphasis on equipping disciples, Julie’s attention focused more and more on adults; developing mentoring experiences for young adults, working with parents in creating a family ministry, and leading neighborhood Bible studies, helping women grow in their obedience to the Word.

Once again a connection with a classmate from her Wheaton days, opened the door for the third phase of her ecclesial journey.  In 1976 Julie was invited to serve as Assistant Pastor of Adults and Families at Whittier Area Baptist Fellowship. While overseeing personnel in the other areas of Christian education she majored in helping adults become active in following Jesus. Whittier Fellowship provided the setting in which Julie’s philosophy and approach to small groups was refined in a network of communities called Circles of Concern. This grass-roots experience and subsequent small group curriculum development provided the substance and opportunity to test what would later become her dissertation that would lead to a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Seminary. It also led to renewed contact with Roberta Hestenes with whom she would serve as professor at Fuller.

During her years at Whittier Baptist Fellowship, Julie studied Greek at Talbot Theological Seminary, took classes at Fuller and  eventually completed her Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry Degrees at Fuller Theological Seminary. It was also during this time in Whittier that she first experienced teaching in the academy, initially as adjunct at Biola and then as adjunct at Fuller. These and other factors were the seeds of transition. After more than two decades of ministering in the church, she moved to the academy. She was appointed Assistant Professor of Christian Formation and Discipleship at Fuller in 1984, was promoted to Associate Professor, and Chair of the department upon the departure of Roberta Hestenes, and then to Full Professor.  During her tenure at Fuller, she has continued to serve the church through consultation, speaking and teaching.  From 1994-1998 she returned in a part-time position to the staff of Lake Avenue Congregational Church to work with the pastoral team as Pastor of Leadership Development.

Julie officially retired from her full time teaching role at Fuller Seminary in August 2013.  She continues to be active in teaching, writing and designing experiential learning occasions that prompt discipleship learning.

 


Contributions to Christian Education

 

When Julie assumed a professorial position at Fuller, it was the fruition of more than five years of interaction with a team of like-minded persons who dreamed and planned for a new way to present teaching the Word of God that would call persons to the actually practice God’s Truth, while maturing in their ways of relating to God.  Realizing that access to increasing varieties of curriculum materials and teacher training programs, inclusion of technology, and improved educational facilities were not necessarily resulting in changed lives in the ministry of Christian education, a taskforce of four concerned educators began to explore the problem. In the late 70’s Roberta Hestenes, John Dettoni, James Larson and Julie Gorman sought to create a new paradigm of biblical teaching and learning that would foster in Christians deeper levels of knowing God and growing personal and communal spiritual maturity. They sought to develop a process that would actually involve learners in situations in which they would have opportunity to implement God’s Word experientially as it was taught. That new paradigm was called “Christian Formation and Discipleship.” It suggests new targets for measurement of success and involves new methodologies that cultivate opportunities for actually following Christ. In this paradigm, the goal of teaching is to actively work with the Holy Spirit in ways that result in transformed living. Thus, the ultimate aim of all educational ministry is for students to experience what it means to be a continually maturing disciple of Christ, reflecting more and more of his likeness, an aim which of course requires the Holy Spirit’s work.   In this paradigm the teacher’s role as choreographer revolves around two key questions. First, how can this content be taught so the learner has opportunity to be formed in the likeness of Christ? Second, how can these concepts be taught so learners are aware of specific life responses that are called for in following Jesus? John Dettoni wrote, “Spiritual formation is not just a new piece of cloth placed on old and worn-out garments of Christian education.  Spiritual formation represents a radical paradigm shift, a new way of looking at the church’s ministry (1994).”

Writing in the Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education, Dr. Gorman defines Christian formational teaching as “the process and product of motivating, nurturing and internalizing values, priorities, perspectives, and responses that are from God.”  It asks the question, “How are Christians formed?”  “How are disciples made?” The role of the Christian educator in this process is to “support this process which moves a person beyond information and beyond [just] desire, into the realm of life-changing transformation,” a transformation achieved by the Spirit in his role of enabling the Word of God to dwell in us experientially. Knowing concepts must become more than just cognitive recollection: it must include praxis.P. 134-135

            In her writing Julie describes key elements in Christian formation and discipleship. First, the purpose of the educational process is to offer opportunity for movement toward formation of the person in the image of Christ.  Second, commitment to the authority of the Word of God is central and foundational as the “what” and the “how” in the formational process.  Third, the Spirit of God is the empowering source of transformation. Fourth, the learner’s developmental trajectory must be taken into account by educators as they seek to implement learning strategies that connect learning to life. Fifth, a formational approach requires a strong emphasis on an interactive teaching process in which the learner’s awareness and understanding of knowledge, affective desire for change and willingness to move in that direction play a vital role. Sixth, the role of community in providing insight and caring support within such change is crucial. Finally, the consequential emphasis for students as they enter ministry is a strong focus on empowering and equipping others for their ministry (discipleship) and a clear reliance on the Spirit’s work in doing so. This new curriculum focus gave Julie the opportunity to express her core values and commitments that had been tested in the crucible of her ministry for over 20 years. 

Fuller was one of the first Protestant seminaries to adopt formational language and a formational approach in their curriculum.  This emphasis on a transformational teaching paradigm has had an impact on the field of Christian Education at other institutions.  Colleges and seminaries with Christian education departments have all faced the challenge of redefining themselves and articulating their central tasks and focus.  As one browses through curriculum guides, course syllabi and promotional materials from Educational Ministry departments represented at NAPCE (North American Professors of Christian Education), the concepts and commitments to spiritual formation and the formational/discipleship language are now common.  Julie has written about Christian formation and continues to promote teaching that moves the learner toward change as a result of responding to God’s Word, key concepts toundations that shaped Fuller’s curriculum.

Another major contribution Dr. Gorman has made to the field of Christian Education is her emphasis on the role of small groups in Christian formation. Her writing is rooted in her years of experience in leading groups and teaching others how to lead groups. Her book, Community that is Christian, was written with practitioners in mind. However, the effective integration of theological foundations for community, and the integration of appropriate sociological, communication, psychological, and anthropological theories have made this book an excellent option for a classroom textbook. This book, now in a second edition, has received verbal and written accolades from practitioners and from academic colleagues.  In his endorsement of the book, Jim Plueddemann, a scholar practitioner, wrote, “This book may be the best in the field for integrating good theology with good social science.”

Julie has contributed to numerous other writing projects. As associate editor of The Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education, published by Baker Books in 2001, she brought energy and an encouraging spirit to editing as well as authoring numerous articles in the volume.  This very helpful reference book has given Christian educators an encyclopedic compendium of terms and topics related to Christian education.  It is a standard resource for professors, students, and ministry practitioners.  Browsing in Dr. Gorman’s publications several themes are evident.  Christian formation, discipleship, small groups, community, developmentalism, and transformational teaching and learning are prominent.  The next stage of Dr. Gorman’s research and writing is taking her into the timely topic of aging and the implications of the aging process for Christian formation.  Her most recent work, articles entitled “The Dilemma of Aging” and “New Significance and Identity: A Practical Theological Perspective” published in the Journal of Religious Gerontology, presents a biblical view of the aging process that integrates the physical, psychological, and cultural realities of aging with various theological traditions. It targets ways that aging influences our perspectives about God, our view of self, our role in our communities, our understanding about time and the end of life. 

In the professional realm Dr. Gorman’s contribution to the North American Professors of Christian Education (NAPCE) now Society of Professors of Christian Education (SPCE) has been significant.  She served on the board for two terms, and has led conference workshops, general sessions and often been a panel participant.  During her tenure as Vice President with responsibility for designing and leading the annual conference, she worked alongside the leadership of PACE (Professional Association of Christian Educators) to produce a joint conference for professors and practitioners—a visible expression of her commitment to stand as a “bridge person between the academy and the church.”

Fittingly, in 2003, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of Christian Education, Dr. Julie Gorman was honored as the recipient of the NAPCE Distinguished Christian Educator award, which is given to individuals who have influenced the field of Christian education through their teaching, leadership and writing.  Reflecting on this honor, Dr. Gorman expressed her respect for the previous distinguished recipients, and recalled that she had presented the first Distinguished Christian Educator award honoring her mentor and professor, Dr. Lois LeBar.  Julie is an example of one who has been discipled well, walking in the ways of her teacher and early mentor and continuing to ask questions about how the knowledge of who God is and how he works give insight into issues of maturing in Christ while seeking to follow him in educating for living Christianly.

Works cited

Chechowich, F. (2004). Julie Gorman: Between the academy and the church. Christian Education Journal, 1(3), 11-18.

Dettoni, J. (1994). What is spiritual formation?  In K. Gangel & J. Wilhoit The Christian Educator’s Handbook of Spiritual Formation.  (pp. 11-20). Wheaton, IL:  Victor Books.

Gorman, J. (2003). New significance and identity: A practical theological perspective. Journal of Religious Gerontology, 15, 171-186.

Gorman, J. (2003). The dilemma of aging. Journal of Religious Gerontology, 15, 87-105.

Gorman, J. (2001).  Christian Formation. In Anthony, M. J., Benson, W. S., Eldridge, D., & Gorman, J. A.  (Eds). (2001). Evangelical dictionary of Christian education. (pp. 134-135). Grand Rapids:  Baker Books.


Bibliography

 

Books

Gorman, J. (2002). Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing House.

Gorman, J. (2002). Dialoging as Christians. Wheaton, IL: Evangelical Training Association.

Gorman, J. (1993). Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (1st  ed.). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Gorman, J. (1993). A training maual for small group leaders.   Korean Translation. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Seemuth, D. P., & Gorman, J. (1992). Don't look back: 8 sessions on living out your commitment to Christ. Wheaton. Ill: Victor Books.

 

Gorman, J. (1991). Let’s Get Together: 8 Sessions on Launching Our Small Group.  Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

Gorman, J. (1991). No Strangers to God. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

Gorman, J. (1991). A training maual for small group leaders. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

Gorman, J. (1962). Junior church course for pupils in grades 4-6 leaders guide.  Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press.

 

Gorman, J. (1962). Church-time for Juniors.  Curriculum Series.  Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press.

 

Gorman, J. (1960). How to have a successful church-time for juniors.  Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press.

 

Chapters

 

Gorman, J. (2003). New significance and identity: A practical theological perspective. In D. Watkins (Ed.), Practical Theology for Aging.  (pp.171-186). New York: Haworth Press.

Gorman, J. (2003). The dilemma of aging. In D. Watkins (Ed.), Practical Theology for Aging. (pp.87-106). New York: Haworth Press.

Gorman, J. (2001). Group Discussion. In Teaching Techniques: Revitalizing Methodology. Evangelical Training Association. Wheaton, Ill.

Gorman, J. (2000). Small Groups in the Local Church. In M. Anthony (Ed), Introducing Christian Education: Foundations for the Twenty-first Century. (pp.176-184). Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing House.

 

Gorman, J. (1995). Children and developmentalism. In J.Wilhoit, & J. Dettoni (Eds), Nurture that is Christian: Developmental perspectives on Christian education. (pp. 141-157). Wheaton, Ill: BridgePoint.

 

Gorman, J. (1995). Developmentalism and groups. J.Wilhoit, & J. Dettoni (Eds),  Nurture that is Christian: Developmental perspectives on Christian education. (pp. 235-248). Wheaton, Ill: BridgePoint.

 

Gorman, J. (1991). Developing small group ministries.  In R. Clark (Ed.), Christian education foundations for the future. (pp. 507-524). Chicago:  Moody Press.

 

Gorman. J. (1978). Youth in worship. In  R. B. Zuck, W. S. Benson, & R. G. Irving (Eds), Youth education in the church. Chicago: Moody Press.

 

Gorman, J. (1976). Family enrichment through the church. In G. R. Collins (Ed.), Facing the future: Church and family together. Waco, Tex: Word Books.

 

Articles

 

Gorman, J. (2008). CEJ textbook survey: community/small group. Christian Education Journal, 5(1), 244-251.

 

Gorman, J. (2005). Now and then: notes on 25 years of Christian education : a special anniversary collection of reflections. Christian Education Journal 3rd series 2(2)Fall, 385-390.

 

Gorman, J. (2004). Women leading evangelical Christian education in the later 20th century: Six women making a difference. Roberta Hestenes: creative innovator, Biblical feminist, global communicator. Christian Education Journal, 1(3), 18-23.

 

Gorman, J. (2003). New significance and identity: A practical theological perspective. Journal of Religious Gerontology, 15, 171-186.

 

Gorman, J. (2003). The dilemma of aging. Journal of Religious Gerontology, 15, 87-105.

 

Gorman, J. (2001). There's got to be more!: Transformational learning. Christian Education Journal, 5(1), 23-51.

 

Gorman, J. (2001).  Christian formation, Community, Family camp, Inductive bible study, Small groups. In M. Anthony,  W. Benson,  D. Eldridge,  & J. Gorman  (Eds).  Evangelical dictionary of Christian education. Grand Rapids:  Baker Books

 

Gorman, J. (1998). Small groups and everyday life. In  R. Banks & P. Stevens (Eds.), The complete book of everyday Christianity.  Downers Grove, Intervarsity Press.

 

Gorman, J. (1993). Close encounters--the real thing. Christian Education Journal, 13(3), 9-17.

 

Gorman, J. (1993). Small groups. Christian Education Journal, 13(3), 9-82.

 

Gorman, J. (1991). God is comforter: the God of comfort. Decision, Feb. 1991.

 

Gorman, J. (1990). Awana, Childhood education, Christian service brigade, Inductive bible study, Pioneer clubs.  In I. Cully & K. Cully (Eds)  Harper’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education. New York: Harper and Row.

 

Gorman, J. (1990). Christian formation. Christian Education Journal, 10(2), 65-73.

 

Gorman, J. (1989). Children and death: With implications for Christian education. Christian Education Journal Winter 1989.

 

Gorman, J. (1978). Primary summer party: pulling it all together. Evangelizing Today’s Child Jan  1978.

 

Book Reviews

 

Gorman, J. (2010). [Review of When the church was a family: Recapturing Jesus' vision for authentic Christian community by   ]  Christian Education Journal, 7(1), 218-221.

 

Gorman, J. (2009). [Review of the book UnChristian: What a new generation really thinks about Christianity...and why it matters by D. Kinnaman and G. Lyons]. Christian Education Journal, 6(2), 408-411.

 

Gorman, J. (2005). [Review of the book The search to belong: rethinking intimacy, community, and small groups by J. Myers]. ChristianEducation Journal, 2(2), 479-483.

 

Gorman, J. (2004). [CEJ Book Symposium on Renovation of the heart: Putting on the character of Christ by D. Willard]. Christian Education Journal, 1: 158-181.

 

Gorman, J. (1998). [Review of the book Multicultural religious education by Barbara Wilkerson]. Christian Education Journal, 2(1), 137-138.

 

Gorman, J. (1989). [Review of the book Harvard diary: Reflections on the sacred and the secular by ]. Christian Education Journal, 10(1), 121-122.

 

Gorman, J. (1987). [Review of the book Creative teaching methods by M. LaFever]. Christian Education Journal, 7(2), 90-91.

 

Editor

 

Anthony, M. J., Benson, W. S., Eldridge, D., & Gorman, J. A.  (Eds). (2001). Evangelical dictionary of Christian education. Grand Rapids:  Baker Books

 

Book Review Editor for Christian Education Journal  “Corporate Spirituality.”

 

Gorman, J.  (1993). Guest Editor:  Special issue Christian Education Journal on Small Groups 13(3).

 

Group Builder Resources editor for Victor Books 

 

Reviews of Julie Gorman Publications

 

Daniel, E. (2005).    [Review of Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (2nd ed.)]. In Christian Standard 140:1351.

 

Weiss, B. (1994).  ).    [Review of Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (1st ed.)]. In Youthworker Fall (11) 114-115.

 

Daniel, E. (1992).   [Review of Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (1st  ed.)].  In Religious Education  92:3 417-18.

Lawson, K. (1996). [Review of Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (1st  ed.)].  In Christian Education Journal 15(3):126-129.

Smallbones, J. (2003). [Review of Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (1st  ed.)]. In Christian Education Journal ns7(1):120-122.

Hiner, K.  (1994). [Review of Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (1st  ed.)]. In Leadership 15(3):70.

Contributing Author

Column writer for Today’s Child.

Family Life Today  Gospel Light Publications

The Reformed Journal

The Standard

Theology News and Notes  Fuller Seminary


Excerpts from Publications

 

Julie Gorman on Community and Small Groups in Ministry

Gorman, J. (2002). Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing House.

However much we may think of our relationship to God in individual terms, we are always seen by God as family, networked, honeycombed, related to one another as His children, His bride, His building. And that relationship is not just a collective. Not single ribbons tied to a central maypole. Not solo strings on a piano playing one tuneful but monotonous note. We are corporate, a whole concerto of harmony and chording. TOGETHER we are in Christ Jesus. 

Relating is at the heart of knowing God. Relating is also at the heart of becoming the people of God. Our faith journey is one we make together. Community is the context for growth. It is a distinctively Christian concept (23).

We hunger for community—encounters with others that cause us to reach out, to self-disclose, to commit, and these occasions bring a feeling of wholeness, of belonging, of valued distinctiveness, and of relatedness to others (76).

Gorman, J. (1993). Close encounters--the real thing. Christian Education Journal, 13(3), 9-17.

The building of community will never be achieved by the perfection of better techniques but by the development of better men and women who realize and respond to the interconnected system of relationships into which they have been placed by God Himself. We must not let techniques and skills become uppermost in small groups. Community is developed not only by insight into relational skills but also by cultivation of a heart that knows and loves God and His people as they love themselves (14).

Gorman, J. (1991). Developing small group ministries.  In R. Clark (Ed.), Christian education foundations for the future. Chicago:  Moody Press.

A small group can be a vital expression of God at work, fulfilling the need for community that He placed in the heart of His created beings.  The growth of the small group phenomenon today is not surprising, considering God’s design of placing within the human heart a desire for relationship and belonging.  Neither is it surprising when we focus on the priesthood of every believer, wherein all believers are ministers, relating to Him and to one another in His family.  The small group format becomes means for experiencing that for which God designed us.  Its persistent survival and expansion verify that being in community is a basic human need (508).    

 

Julie Gorman On Developmentalism and Children’s Ministry

 

Gorman, J. (1995). Children and developmentalism. In J.Wilhoit, & J. Dettoni (Eds), Nurture that is Christian: Developmental perspectives on Christian education. (pp 141-157). Wheaton, Ill: BridgePoint.

Developmentalism declares that the valuable content of Scripture must be combined with an awareness of the stage the child is in so as to match the teaching of content to the capacity of the child. This suggests that, while all parts of the Bible are true, not all parts are suitable for teaching to children. It also suggests that truth, to be understood, must be reframed in the experience of the child (142).

 For many believers, childhood is a time for coming to know Christ—that is the goal. However, developmentalism, with its constantly enlarging capacities and assimilation of more truth, challenges us to help children go on to “grow up in Christ.” This means knowing the meaning of increasing surrender to His lordship, discovering widening dimensions of His guidance, becoming aware of the broadening subtleties of sin. The developmentalist never sees the child in a static state, but rather as always increasing in ability and insight. Christians who work with children need to challenge children to the edge of their capacities in the world of spiritual development (143).

 

Julie Gorman on Transformational Learning

Gorman, J. (2001). There's got to be more!: Transformational learning. Christian Education Journal, 5(1), 23-51.

 

To commit to transformational learning is to commit oneself  to examining  assumptions and paradigms that will challenge our comfort, our control, and our concepts. Foundational is the question, “what is the purpose and nature of knowing?” For the Christian that is a theological question. As believers, all our knowing must be shaped by our relationship to the Logos (the Word)—and results in our more fully knowing (not just rationally) God. To know is to experience God. Since God is truth the experiencing of truth should lead us to God and knowing God. Truth, therefore is to be transformational. For the believer, the goal of all things is to recognize and live in the reality of that truth as God designed and declared it (27).

            It becomes easy to “think and talk” right without actually being transformed by the “right.” . . . . . .[T]ruth becomes “personal” as one interacts with the living God in carrying out his “Word” in a specific situation. . . . We want learners to be changed by the Word as they live it, not just receive it and solidify it. The Word is active, pertinent to every current issue, capable of bringing about God’s purposes in any set of circumstances (29).

            Transformation includes practice of truth. When I “pursue truth,” I am open to allow it to so dominate my being that it creates newness of truth in who I am. All of this presupposes responding to the truth, not just being exposed to it. With the expansion of information and increase in accessibility to it, it has become easier to encounter truth and remain aloof and untouched. Such is not the goal of Scriptural truth. . . (35).

Nothing is more important to the nature of spiritual transformation than the role of the Word of God in the hands of the Spirit. As Christian educators we are called to communicate biblical data, to enable interpretation of that data, and to embrace Scripture as objective truth that fosters transformation. Scripture becomes the most powerful “tool” available for transforming learning that issues from critical theological reflection (35). 

 

Julie Gorman On Aging

 

Gorman, J. (2003). New significance and identity: A practical theological perspective. In D. Watkins (Ed.), Practical Theology for Aging. New York: Haworth Press.

 

If we are to restructure our view of aging to reflect what we say we believe, we must include the reframing of many of our traditionally acceptable ways of thinking.  Each of the following topics represent “sacred cows” or unquestioned assumptions which shape our lives, our society and ultimately distort our beliefs so they are out of sync with a biblical theology of aging.  [These assumptions include] recognition and acceptance of one’s dependence, a revised view of time and experience, looking at change and loss differently, a different outlook on death (our own and others’), a new perspective on work and leisure (173).

Some of the most significant works of insight into spirituality have come from those who looked reality in the face and went on to mine the glory of God that was uncovered in seeming losses. The stripping away of what we think we value often leads to awareness of greatest treasure. The “wisdom” of the elderly does not come without a price. But persons who thought they “couldn’t live” without something and spent years dreading that loss, found that the more “Spartan” lifestyle that loss impelled, led them to know greater fulfillment. Nothing we experience this side of heaven totally fulfills. Even with the elation of success, completion, reaching our goal—there is always the angst for more. God has placed this “hunger” in us that we might realize we will never be totally satisfied with anything but himself. This drives us onward. It refines our evaluation of loss and change if we place focus of trust in the goodness of God (179).

"Endings” because they are a part of this life are always mixed joy and shadow side of pain. Every ecstasy is twinged with some agony and every “agony” knows a secret “ecstasy.” Even great pain holds a richness in the realization of having known it, having experienced a deeper need and acknowledgment of grace than ever before. This is a mark of our incompleteness in this existence. Speaking of his own death, Paul laments, “I have a great desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:23). . . . [The] “center” for a theological perspective on mortality must move from us and our limitations to God and his abundance (182). 


Recommended Readings

 

Gorman, J. (2002). Community that is Christian: A handbook for small groups. (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing House.

 

Ministry practitioners and academics alike will find this book helpful. The effective integration of theological foundations for community, and the integration of appropriate sociological, communication, psychological, and anthropological theories make this book an excellent option for a classroom textbook. This book, now in a second edition, has received verbal and written accolades from practitioners and from academic colleagues. 

 

Gorman, J. (1995). Children and developmentalism and Developmentalism and groups. In J.Wilhoit, & J. Dettoni (Eds), Nurture that is Christian: Developmental perspectives on Christian education. (pp.141-157; 235-248).Wheaton, Ill: BridgePoint.

 

Dr. Gorman’s contributions to this volume illustrate her rich theological heritage, her deep ministry experience and her familiarity with the developmental constructs.  The short chapters in this book provide a brief readable introduction to two key areas of her ministry life and contributions to the field of Christian education: children’s ministry and small groups.

 

Gorman, J. (2001). There's got to be more!: Transformational learning. Christian Education Journal, 5(1), 23-51.

 

Dr. Gorman lives the ideas in this article. She describes the underlying theological and philosophical foundations for her life as a teacher.  She promotes the idea that knowing Scripture requires a whole-person encounter that engages more than the mind.  Active critical theological reflection guided by the teacher under the power of the Holy Spirit is required if transformation in the learner is to occur.

 

Gorman, J. (2003). New significance and identity: A practical theological perspective and The dilemma of aging. In D. Watkins (Ed.), Practical Theology for Aging. (pp/New York: Haworth Press.

 

These two chapters provide an introduction to Dr. Gorman’s most recent work.  In her last season as a professor at Fuller Seminary, she has thought deeply about the spiritual opportunities that emerge in later life.  Once again her theological and biblical moorings are prevalent and relevant. 


Author Information

Faye Chechowich Schroeder

 

Faye Chechowich Schroeder (Ph.D. Indiana University) is Professor of Christian Educational Ministries at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.  She also serves as Dean of Faculty Development and  Director of the Bedi Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence.  She contributed to the 2004 Christian Education Journal (Series 3, Vol. 1, No. 3) article that highlighted Dr. Julie Gorman and the lives of 5 other 20th century leading female Christian educators.

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