The Pastor as Religious Educator

Published 26 Dec 2016

Author Information

Robert Browning is an educator and a person with a grounded view of the world. His view of the world comes from the vision of a Christian education in which it seeks to acknowledge and respond to the love of God. His worldview of the sacraments reflects in his interaction with his colleagues and interfaith groups, exploration of the human understanding and utilization of different methods of discipline. Robert was born into a Christian family that was active in the First Christian Church of Trenton, Missouri. In college, he studied religion and philosophy. His family, studies and college experiences motivated him to pursue an ordained ministry.

Browning said that his call was a natural call from God. He was preparing to become a desk officer of the U.S. Navy when he responded to that call. Browning was inspired by the leadership skills and values of youth leaders that he looked up to. He was invited in 1959 to become a faculty member of The Methodist Theological School located in Ohio. From then on, he continued to make significant contributions to Christian education.

Overview of Content

“The Pastor as Religious Educator” shows his grounded view of Christian education and describes the role of the pastor in the field. The book reflects his sacramental worldview that was an important part of his identity and personal formation. His sacramental model of a Christian education represents a dynamic change to the initial religious model popularized by Harrison Elliott and George Albert Coe early in the 20th century. The pastor does not only have duties to the church or his ministry but he also has an important role to play as a religious education. Teaching Christian education requires a deep sense of understanding and commitment to what you are trying to say. The pastor must also observe the values of forgiveness, reconciliation and moral courage in teaching religious education (Browning 1989).

The pastor should also be transformational in teaching religious education. Transformational leadership is the style of leadership wherein an inpidual or more people will interact with others as leaders and followers will be able to motivate each other and boost one another’s morale. The purposes of these leaders and followers might have began as separate but still related to one another and will be joined together. The foundation for power is related for the benefit of mutual support of having a single purpose. The relationship of the leaders and followers are based on morals. Transformational leadership has the ability to raise the level of behavior of people and the ethical goals of the leaders and followers. The leadership style is called as such because it creates an effect of transformation between the leaders and the followers.


A pastor should have transformational and servant leadership qualities. Leaders that employ this style have the intention of going beyond the short-term goals and focusing on the achievement of an inpidual’s intrinsic needs. This will in turn give followers the chance to identify with their leader’s needs. There are four dimensions to transformational leadership. They are charisma, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and inpidualized attention. The transformational leader is able to motivate his followers by inspiring them and giving them encouraging words to do their jobs well. The characteristics of the servant leader include the ability to listen, empathize, persuade and conceptualize. He has the commitment to encourage growth in other people in the organization.

This style of leadership has emphasized the need for collaboration, empathy, integrity and the proper use of power and influence. By heart, the servant leader is deciding to lead so that he can serve his followers well. He has no intention of increasing his own power and influence. His intention is to encourage the growth of others in the community. This will therefore increase the rate of personal involvement and cooperation within the ministry. Believers should profess their faith. They should be able to manifest and lead holy lives and be free from worldliness. Through this, they show that they are the distinct people of God. They are called Christians because they bear the name of Christ. It is clear from the teachings that Christ has called on the people to organize communities of believers. The church is organized by elders that act as shepherds leading the flock. The members of the Church are bound together with the covenant of love and service to the Lord.

The social doctrine of the church is composed of the teachings that would apply the truth that was revealed to the people and the moral principles for order in the society. The social doctrine applies the message of the Gospels to social reality. The purpose of the social teachings of the church is to proclaim the plan of God for society. The plan will help in the enlightenment of the minds of men and to use as a guide in building earth that is in accordance with the pine plan. There are two levels on how the temporal activities were developed. God gave man the freedom and intelligence. This provided opportunities for men to create their own opinion and alternatives.

God also gave man commandments to obey. This is called the natural law. The moral law that man must obey comes with the realm of the temporal affairs. As a pine vocation, the Christians have the mission of sanctifying the temporal realities. By following in God’s plan, people are being encouraged to proclaim the truth and uphold the morality in society. The central idea to the social doctrine of the church revolves around the condition of man as a human person. This would mean that man is made in the image and likeness of God. The being of man reflects the pine characteristics of love and intellect. Man is made up of body and soul. It is the soul of man that makes him distinctly human. Because of this, the actions of man towards achieving perfection and is working towards love and knowledge.

As intellect is based on the truth, the will of man will move in the direction of goodness. Because man is a human person, he has a special place in the universe that was created by God. Man is the master of his own being. To God, he plays the role of the steward and remains to be accountable for the earth. Man has the ability to establish relationships with others based on love and mutual understanding. This is the dignity of the human person. The continuous duty of many theologians to expand the doctrine of the church in order to be understood more clearly has led to the flowering of its writing. The broad subject matter and the novelty of the theme will continue to encourage its theological reflection. Some of the new contributions made in the field are prone from being misinterpreted which will give rise to doubt and confusion.

Jesus instituted the seven sacraments and entrusted them to the church. Through the sacraments, the people will receive the grace of God. God is the creator of nature and all the things that are in the world. God has direct involvement in the lives of the people. He is loving and caring. The doctrine accepts the possibility that the creation of God was consistent with that as stated in the theory of evolution. The church rejects the idea or an efforts use to deny the existence of the supernatural pine being. The soul was not created by evolution. It is God that put the souls into the men and women.


An applied moral belief may be a principle that guides the actions of an inpidual. A fundamental moral belief on the other hand is a moral principle wherein other morals are built upon. These may be theoretical or applied moral beliefs. An example of a fundamental moral belief is that all human beings have the right to live. An applied moral belief would be the right to education, freedom of speech and expression. Fundamental moral beliefs may be interpreted as the basic rights and principle of man. These beliefs are inherent in man and he is aware of it from the moment that he comes into consciousness. Applied moral beliefs are the rules and regulations created by society to bring order and organization to the world. These rules and regulations are based on the fundamental moral beliefs.

It is however unfortunate that the educational system is often oriented toward the control of inpiduals rather than learning and rewarding them for performing better than the others and nurturing their natural curiosity of learning and discovery. The current curriculum teaches inpiduals at a very young age to be competitive and reactive. It was instilled in inpiduals that deep learning means to know and accept the truths rather than developing the ability to take action that is thoughtful and effective. It is also taught that to acquire knowledge is to pass the exams and tests rather than retaining the wisdom and personal meaning of knowledge. It is also taught to give value to what is certain than the doubtful aspects of knowledge, to give quick answers to questions rather than to ask further and also to know which option is right rather than reflecting on the other selections. Learning is viewed to have little or no relevant application outside of the school to daily life, having no need for further inquiry and production of knowledge.

Upon learning the reading and evaluating the book by Robert Browning, I have gained many insights on the role of the pastor as a religious educator. I will definitely apply his ideas and teachings in my ministry. He has a grounded view of the world and Christian education which I would also like to have. Being a pastor and a religious educator can be challenging but I will try my best to incorporate all the information that I have learned.


Browning, Robert, The Pastor as Religious Educator, Religious Education Press, 1989

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