Articulation is not an art, but a passion!

I have sung in many choirs with different directors over the years and without fail, and regardless of the skill level of the choir, each director has encouraged the choir members to articulate more clearly. Bottom line, even though the choir members have spent hours learning the notes, phrasing, intonation, timing, and expression, if they don’t articulate the words carefully, they are failing to communicate. Singers may be aware of the importance of clear enunciation and even have the desire to communicate the message, but articulation requires sustained, focused, and passionate energy to succeed.

According to David Kinnaman and Barna Research, teens are not articulating their faith with clarity. Even though kids like the concept of being Christian, the researchers are finding that kids are having less conversations about what they believe. What is more surprising is that among Protestant teens, the Barna study states “they are more likely to pray, go to worship services, read the Bible and attend youth group meetings than were Protestant-affiliated teens a dozen years ago.” It appears that our kids have bought the idea that we are to inclusive and not offend anyone – even when it comes to our deepest convictions of faith. Where would they get this idea?

Christian Smith, in his impressive Soul Searching study of 13-17 year old students, tells us that we get what we are – in other words, our kids are emulating our behavior. In a recent study by the Christian Reformed Church (the church out of which many CSI schools were born), the devotional habits of adults are in serious decline. For example, the percentage of families having daily devotions has declined from 60% in 1992 to 43% in 2007. If we don’t engage in regular spiritual disciplines, how can we expect our kids to? If they don’t see us sharing our faith with others, how can we expect that they will?

In a video clip I use in workshops, the avowed atheist entertainer, Penn Jillette, speaks about an encounter with a businessman who gave him a New Testament after a performance. Penn respected that gesture and believes that everyone who feels strongly about their faith should be proselytizing. He likens the lack of sharing one’s faith to seeing a truck bearing down on someone and not trying to push them out of the way. In other words if you believe that a person is going to hell and you have a way to save them, but don’t tell them, you are acting as if you hate them.

Are we teaching kids how to have conversations about Jesus? Are we modeling that for them in our own lives?


Filed under devotional, kids/culture, parenting, student outcomes, worship

16 responses to “Articulation is not an art, but a passion!

  1. Pete Post

    A wonderful challenge for my pre-service teachers to reflect upon – whether they are planning to teach in private or public schools. How can we encourage and empower our students in regards to faith no matter what the setting? I will ask students in my Introduction to Special Education class to respond. Prof Pete Post

  2. Hannah Sprague

    This article is a great self-examination for teachers and future teachers. I really enjoyed and was able to relate to the choir analogy. Christian Smith raises an excellent point. I would say his point is valid, yet intimidating for teachers in terms of the statement that our students match up with our behavior. The statistic about family devotions decreasing by almost twenty percent is extremely depressing to me. But at the same time, I think that this article is a great reminder for teachers and future teachers. Educators are leaders and I think this is a great statement of how our faith is no faith at all if we do not live it out every single day. I agree, if we do not practice our faith daily, then why should we expect our students to? We, as Christians, are called to share our faith and beliefs throughout our daily actions. Obviously, in a private school, teachers can talk freely about their beliefs and incorporate prayer into the classroom. As for teachers who are in the public school system, this task can appear to be more like an obstacle course. But with intentions of acting out faith in the classroom, wether it be public or private, in tangible ways, our light from the Lord will shine through to our students. Educators set a huge example for students. Kids see their teacher five out of the seven days of the week, so we can not use the excuse and say that we do not have the opportunity to be a good example. Penn Jillette’s idea is one that I take as a challenge. How harsh it is to hate someone; thankfully, we have the perfect opportunity everyday in our classrooms to be witnesses of the faith to our students and to whomever else we may encounter. We have before us the most perfect example of all, Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.

  3. Anita Anderson

    I also thought this was a great article for teachers to reflect on. Teachers are certainly role models for students, and sometimes they may be the only role model a student has. Since children emulate adult’s behavior it is very important for us as teachers to show them that Christ should be a part of everything in our everyday lives. Since there are less families practicing their faith, its our job as a teacher to show children the way and the light of Christ. This will be far easier in a Christian school because they are not laws against practicing the faith freely. In a public school this area is for much concern. I believe it is a teacher’s job to reach out and connect to all his or her students. Even if we cannot verbally tell students about the faith, we can show students through our acts of kindness and love we have for them. Teachers have to be the Christ-like role models for their students which I hope to one day.

  4. Kristin Ipema

    This article was very striking to me because it brings up a harsh truth. Besides a child’s parent, students that are in school see their teachers more than any other adult throughout the school week. This means that because teachers are so much a part of a child’s life it is really important for them to be a good example to their students. I believe as a Christian it is very important that others may see we live for Christ in our daily lives and if we want our students to also be strong Christians we have to make sure that they can see Christ through us. There are many different ways that you can show you are a Christian. Obviously it is very easy to show your faith as a teacher in a Christian school because you are allowed to talk about Christ, but also you are expected to incorporate in your classrooms the message of Christ and how we are called to be a light to others in the world today. In a public school setting this can be more of a challenge because you can not blatantly talk about religion during class, however I still believe you can be a light to students in a public school through other ways. Christian teachers can show the love of Christ to their students by being kind,caring, and compassionate as well as showing God’s love through their relationships with students and other staff members. I think this article is right that it is so hard for students to grow up and practice Christianity in their daily lives if they do not have people around them showing them how this is done and being a positive influence on them. This presents current and future teachers with a challenge in order to have a lasting positive affect on their students lives to allow them to continue to grow up in the Christian faith.

  5. Meghan

    Faith is good. Bringing faith into the classroom is great for your students and defenitly changes the atmosphrere of the classroom. I agree that if you as a teacher do not practice and express your faith to your class, then your students will most likely copy you. I went to a Catholic school my entire life and I truly did admire my teachers that would express their faith and teach us about our Lord. I know that in public schools there are some things that you can not do with your faith, but with a creative teacher you can come up with anything. Being in a class where you can freely talk about God and relate him to many topics that you learn in school is a blessing. I hope that when I do become a teacher, that I will bring to my students the art of God and modivate them to express and share their religious beliefs.

  6. Stefanie

    I really enjoyed this article, even though it is somewhat frightening. Although I’m in college now, I’m still close to that age of some of those kids that don’t want to talk about their faith in front of other people. I definitely learned from my parents and teachers that sharing your faith opens you up to new ways of looking at it; and it can help you learn so much more by opening up and simply having a conversation about it. Looking at it from a teacher’s prospective, it really depends on where you teach how openly you can proclaim your faith. If you’re in a public school for example, the most you can really do is have a Christ-like attitude toward your students.
    It’s difficult living in the world we do today because people are always so worried about being politically correct and sure not to offend anyone. I agree with the article when you said “It appears that our kids have bought the idea that we are to inclusive and not offend anyone – even when it comes to our deepest convictions of faith.” I’m not sure why we act this way with our faith, but it’s a really good topic to think about. =)

    Thank you!

  7. Kelly Brandon

    I really enjoyed this article, it is definitely a something we need keep in mind as we become teachers. Growing up I was never around people who openly spoke about their faith. This lead me to beleive that talking about your faith was unnecessary and that we should just lead with Christ-like actions. So I completely agree with the statement in the article, “in other words, our kids are emulating our behavior.” It wasn’t until I went to Trinity that I realized how wrong I was. Openly sharing your faith with others is a big part of your relationship with Christ. Now that I have become comfortable with talking about my walk with Christ, I know that this is something I need to take into my classroom. I know that this is not really possible if I teach in a public school, in which case I hope to lead my students by having a Christ-like attitude. But for those teaching in private schools, I feel it is imparrtive that we help guide the next generation in openly sharing their faith. We can’t let the world around us teach our kids that they should be more concerned about not huting someone’s feelings than furthing God’s kingdom. We need to instill in them the passion to go out and help more people become Christ followers.

  8. Courtney

    As teachers, we are given the chance to be a positive influence in the lives of our students. This article brings to light the fact that many youths are not receiving the same kind of Christian nurturing that has been given in the past. As Christians, we have a responsibility to help guide our students towards heaven. In any school, the way we act is enough to really show what we believe. In Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) it states “for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If we are truly Christians, it will show in our attitudes, in our treatment of students, in our respect for students and other faculty, as well in how we go about teaching our students. In a public school, it is against the law to pray or preach the Bible to a class, but that does not mean that we have to check our Christianity at the door. We are allowed the right to act as a Christian would because of our faith and we should be willing to do so. In a Christian school, it is even more important for teachers to guide students down the path they should go. As Christian school teachers, we have a special ability to talk to our students freely about the gospel and we need to embrace that. We need to find some way to incorporate the Bible and Jesus into our classroom daily. Whether it finds its way in through prayer at the beginning of class or a daily devotional or even every other day, it needs to be part of the routine of the classroom so we can influence our students in a way that is pleasing to God.

  9. matt

    This article was a little bit of a shocker when I read it. You here of different studies coming out that many people are drifting farther and farther away from devotions with their family and even simple personal prayer time. If I were to get the great opportunity of teaching in a private school, it would be my job to challenge my students every to become more like Christ in everything that they do. Since the time at home is busy and there might not be a great Christian atmosphere there, I think incorporating prayer before class, and maybe a 5 minutes devotion is really important.
    If I were to teach in a public school, you are obviously limited to just about nothing in how much you can speak about Christianity and your faith to the students. So in regards to that I think that whenever you get the chance to really show Christ in your actions is really important. Just by simply being a good role model, having a positive and really caring for your students personally is important in a public school.

  10. Jackie

    Throughout high school, I had a handful of teachers who would start each class with a short devotion. It became easy to see that these teachers were the ones who cared about more than grades and tests–they also cared about my spiritual life. Seeing a teacher spend 5 or 10 minutes a day reflecting on a short passage of Scripture was encouraging. This is something I look forward to doing in my future classroom. Spending time in God’s Word and a little prayer can really set the tone for an entire class. In a public classroom, this would look a bit different. I may not be able to pray at the beginning of class or read verses to the students, but I can still pray for them. Prayer is powerful–whether it’s done silently or out loud. Behaving in a Christ-like way would be another way to reach my students in a public school. I want them to see that I am different by the way I act and the things I say to them. A public school could take away devotions or prayer, but living a Christ-like life is not something that can be banned.

  11. Haya ismail

    A teacher can make a difference in a child’s life for good or bad. . I want to be remembered as the one who helped and made a difference in a child’s life and also as a good role model. This article brings the fact that many youths are not receiving the same kind of Christian nurturing that has been given in the past. As Christians, we have a responsibility to help guide our students towards God and to have faith to go toward heaven. In any school, the way we act is enough to really show what we believe about our faith and how that has effect on our life. I believe if a person is a truly a believer in God it shows on how he or she act with people, the respect she or he give to others, and as a teacher how he or she treat her students. I know that in public schools there are some things that you cannot do with your faith, but with a creative teacher you can come up with it in an indirect way and get your point through. Being in a class where you can freely talk about God and relate him to many topics that you learn in school is a great way to bring student close to their faith and to God. I hope that when I do become a teacher, that I will lead my students to the right path in life and help to express and share their religious beliefs.

  12. Frank Kovach

    This is a very good article. This si showing how faith in the United States is dying. As a teacher will express my religious believes so then my students can act upon them. Like the article states, ” If we don’t engage in regular spiritual disciplines, how can we expect our kids to? If they don’t see us sharing our faith with others, how can we expect that they will?” This statement is very true, young students and children learn from their teachers, parents, neighbors, and peers. If a child doesn’t see any faith coming from any of these they will not express their’s as well. If I work in a public school I will express what I am allowed to to my students to try and promote better living styles for the students. They are our future right? So why not teach them something that we would expect them to practice. Any faith has the right to be expressed but when arguments arise from them that is when someone needs to step in and stop it. Faith is a personal belief and should not be thrown upon onto others. Expressing your faith is one thing, but trying to change someone else’s faith is taking it a step too far. So we as future teachers and/or parents need to express what we would expect from our children and students rather than not express it and expect them to.

  13. Austin Warner

    As a future educator, I believe that a teacher is an individual that his or her students should look up to be and be a positive example to them. As a Christian, I am told and try to be a great Christian example wherever I go and whatever I may do. When teaching, I should continue to be a Christian example to my students whether I am in a private or a public educational setting. If the Lord leads me to a Christian school, I can provide Scripture and prayer in the classroom and have Jesus Christ be the center of all things and I can encourage to tell my students to tell others about his or her personal faith and attempt to lead others to Jesus. If the Lord leads to me to a public school setting, I can still be a Christian example to them by just being a good example to them and teach them good morals and values to live by. Examples of these is telling the truth and helping those in need, which are also things that are asked of us in the Bible and overall makes the world a better place. Last but definitely not least, I can also pray for my students. The power of prayer is an amazing thing and praying for each and every one of my students is another thing I can do to help out my students.

  14. Kevin b

    Wow, a lot of what Kelly mentioned is EXACTLY what I experienced growing up. I remember that faith was never something discussed by any of my peers until I entered high school [I have attented public school until college] but I never had a conversation about belief or faith with anyone my age until I was about 14-15 years old.

    I am almost planning on teaching in a public school, but that does mean I plan to exclude faith from my classroom. I think that if students are comfortable with their surroundings in a classroom and you communicate with them that their beliefs are safe in the atmosphere created, this should hopefully lead students to feel more comfortable opening the discussion to their peers as well. In fact, I remember we had our first big experience with special needs in second grade- it wasn’t until after our class was able to see what downs syndrome was and what it meant that we understood the diversity of those around us. This immediately had us talking amongst ourselves and once we were comfortable, we were bringing these questions up in class. I hope that I can show students I have faith in a non-confrontational manner and have it lead to them feeling safe with discussing this to others.

  15. Hannah Schaap

    This is an important question for us to consider as teachers wether we are planning on teaching in a public or a private school. Either way, we should exemplify Christ-like behavior and give a good model for our students. If we do teach in a public school, it does not mean we cannot share Christ with our students. Our behaviors and attitudes should show that we are followers of the Lord and that we are dedicated to him. Sometimes the students come from a bad situation at home and the people at school are the only positive influence they have. There seems to be a lot of hurt going on with students these days, in public and private schools. It is really important for us as teachers to remember that everyone has a different story and every one of us matters to God. If every child matters to God, then we should do our best to care and love every child that is in our classrooms. We may not be able to pray and teach about God in public schools, but we can still live the way Christ wants us to and show people God’s love.

  16. Willie Gesch

    I love this article! It especially strikes close to home for me because I am in school to be a choir director, and I was raised in that same Christian home. My family did have daily devotions, and I did go to Youth Group quite frequently throughout high school. And yet, despite all that, it seems that I am not quite comfortable with sharing my faith to total strangers. This relates to how I plan to integrate faith into my classroom as a teacher. In a prive, Christian school it is very easy to take for granted that the Christian perspective and worldview is integrated into the curriculum already. It is expected behavior. And yet, it is not the foremost aspect of most classrooms. One way that I plan on integrating my faith into my classroom (in a Christian school setting) would be to have daily bible readings. Not necessarily discussing them, although that would be done at times. However, in a public school setting, this is not possible. The only ways that I could show my faith would be to simply act like the Christian man that I am. If my faith shines through who I am, people will wonder what is different about me, and ask. It would still be difficult to share my faith, but it would not be a bad thing to share. Thank you for this article. It is very close to the truth, and has many facets to which it can be applied.

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