Using Andragogy to Help Adults Study Eschatology
Eschatology forms a vital part of the church's teaching and is foundational to spiritual fidelity. For, the followers of Jesus resist an earthly mindset and know they are citizens of heaven, since they "eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20 NIV). Yet, eschatological topics, such as the End Time and the Second Coming, create confusion and division among Christians. Extra-biblical literature about eschatology related themes reached record sales in the first decade of 2000 and bore influence on many American churches' teaching about the subject, whether or not it was congruent with the particular church's doctrinal view. Curiously, the relationship of eschatology to future world events that perplexed American Christians in recent years also engendered the same questions a generation ago and perhaps many generations prior. The potential for controversy appears to have fostered avoidance of the subject of the End Time and Second Coming in some churches, especially ones that hold a different view than typical of popular literature. This research asks whether eschatology can become the object of group-study and foster unifying fellowship in the church, enable students to personally formulate biblical doctrine instead of relying on authority figures or fiction, while equipping Christians to study the Bible skillfully.
This research examined the context of teaching eschatology in an American church, and the literature that bore influence on the First Church of God in Vincennes. This research explored the principles of, theological viability for, and the design of, the adult-education theory of andragogy. This theory was employed because of its emphasis on learner-driven education. The subject of the research was the First Church of God in Vincennes, Indiana, of which the author is pastor. The participants in Wednesday night adult Bible study chose the specific topic of study — the rapture of the church — by means of a survey. The work of this project also included an exegesis of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, since it is a primary text for teaching about the rapture. Finally, the andragogical class was conducted on five Wednesday nights in October and November 2011.
The findings of the research showed great promise for the use of andragogy in the church. The most celebrated learning gains were the Bible-study skills. The findings also show a potential for formulating doctrine, but more definitely for becoming familiar with the biblical material about the topic. The research indicates that, along the side of teacher-directed learning venues and preaching events, andragogy is beneficial to the church for studying the doctrines related to eschatology about which people are most prone to ask questions.