Teaching and learning: Family faith formation for September 12, 2021



Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-5

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

For the second reading, have one person read each verse with a pause after in to allow time for silent reflection.

Connecting through story

Watch this clip from the movie “Freedom Writers.”

  • What did Miguel learn?
  • What did Miguel teach?
  • What sustained him?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Who was one of the best teachers from whom you’ve learned?
  • What made that teacher so memorable?
  • What did you learn?
  • In what ways is teaching a reciprocal relationship?
  • What do you think your best/favorite teacher learned from you?
  • When thinking about teaching and learning about faith, what is important?
  • In thinking about Jesus as our Teacher, what has Jesus taught you?
  • What has God learned from you?
  • The text speaks about being sustaining the weary. In what ways does teaching and learning sustain us?
  • How can you be a better learner?
  • How can you be a better teacher?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Teaching and learning are fundamental practices of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
  • In the Old Testament, the “oral tradition” was a central means of teaching. They told the stories over and over from generation to generation so that it was knit into the fabric of their identity and their faith.
  • The author of Deuteronomy summarized the essence of the laws by which God’s people were to live: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
  • Woven into the commandments is the charge to teach (recite, write, bind) when you are at home and when you are out and about. Teaching and learning go hand in hand with faith.
  • In the New Testament, Jesus was called Rabbi or Teacher. He taught through parables, saying, sermons, dialogue and through his actions and way of life.
  • Before and after his resurrection, Jesus charged the disciples with continuing his ministry — to do as he did. This includes teaching.
  • We are familiar with Jesus’ Great Commission: “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20) We usually focus on the “make disciples” or the “baptism” parts. However, notice the command to “teach.” Just as Jesus commanded us to baptize, he also commanded us to teach. Teaching is sacramental.
  • The good news is that he did not expect us to do it on our own. As with all other aspects of ministry, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us.
  • When teaching and learning are life-giving, we can trust the Spirit is present and active.
  • According to Romans (12:6-8), teaching is a spiritual gift and indeed it is.
  • It is equally true that we all teach. We teach by what we say, what we do and who we are. When we come to worship, we are teaching people that worship is a priority in our lives and our allegiance belongs to God.
  • We are also learners. Teaching and learning are inherently connected. Teachers learn from students just as much as students learn from teachers.

Take a moment to write a thank you note to the person who taught you something life-giving about faith. Share with them at least a little of what you learned. (And, if you haven’t already watched the movie “Freedom Writers,” it’s a wonderful movie to view as a family. If you have young children in your family, please note there are a couple of places where foul language is used — not excessive, but it’s there so plan accordingly.)


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.


REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.