Author and thought leader Andy Crouch presented a keynote on culture making at a Christian school educators convention last week, providing attendees a new way to articulate working as faith educators, says Diane Stronks.
Crouch’s book Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling was the theme of this year’s Edifide — formally the Ontario Christian School Teachers Association (OCSTA) — convention.
The book, published in 2008, calls Christians to be culture makers, the creative cultivators that God designed. Culture is what people make of the world through cultural artifacts and in making sense of the world around us.
“He’s given us that gift of new ways of talking about what we all kind of know,” says Stronks, Edifide executive director.
“As we move into 21st century Christian education there are a number of various issues facing schools,” she says.
These issues include the rise of technology and the fact that students are living in a different world than teachers grew up in. Educators have been talking for years about the integration of faith, learning and worldview, she says.
Crouch summarizes four traditional postures for learning about the culture around us: condemning culture, consuming culture, copying culture and critiquing culture.
He encouraged attendees to get busy wherever they are to claim that area of culture and be creative in terms of reflecting the image of God.
“He’s calling us to that we need to be culture makers and we need to be creative and answer the call of our vocation,” says Stronks. “We’re called to cultivate something new and good or introduce new cultural goods.
“We have to ask the right questions about what’s our mission and vision for our lives, for our institutions, for our families, and schools would be included in that, and what stories do we tell.”
Ray Hendriks, Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) director of advancement, says Crouch’s keynote set a “great” agenda and discussion starter for the two-day event.
Hendriks says Crouch’s representation of our need to be culture keepers and culture creators was a timely topic for OACS schools.
“A lot of our schools are struggling with where they find themselves in their worldview and he reminded us of the importance of working that out,” says Hendriks.
Hendriks says Crouch’s “unbelievable” gift for presenting was a living example for any teacher, noting he has multiple oration skill levels and effectively used PowerPoint and music during his presentation.
Held at Redeemer University College, approximately 950 educators from across the province attended the convention, making this year’s event the largest yet.
The Oct. 27-28 event included a variety of workshops, and for the first time administrative assistants participated.
The organization’s new name, Edifide Christian Educators Association, was launched at the beginning of the convention. The name is to reflect serving all educators who take their faith seriously in schools.
Stronks says she hopes people left with inspiration to rethink what the essential questions are to ask as Christian educators.
“I hope that people feel inspired and affirmed in the importance of their work and that they feel that they are part of a larger network of Christian educators,” she says.