"Hands-On Learning"

When I was a boy, I spent my summers building forts in a locust tree grove. The setting was just across the street from where I lived on an uncleared vacant lot. I never knew or even thought about who owned the property, but I have a feeling that the lot owner was grateful for the industriousness of the neighborhood boys. After all, we were saving him the trouble and cost of clearing out those thorny little trees! 😊

We used our imaginations every time we went to work. Usually, we were building a small community of shelters with a barrier or fence around it for protection. We pretended to be a party of hardy explorers setting up camp and building defense structures to protect it against any enemies, real or imagined! Hours of work sawing, knife scraping, trimming, and rope tying were invested in the project each day.

We did not care how hot it was or how much we sweated! In our minds, we were adventurers creating a new world! At the end of the day, we would bathe, eat dinner, and retreat to our comfortable beds to fall fast asleep. In the morning, we would head back to the fort and continue our building with hammers, hatchets, shovels, and pocketknives in the ready!

Our grandsons have been coming to our house since they were little boys. They love going up the street a half block to a nearby residential pond with plenty of trees shedding their dead limbs. The boys’ imaginations kick into adventure mode almost immediately after we arrive. They get out their pocketknives and begin whittling away to create walking sticks that they will use to explore, discover, and create in similar ways that I did when I was their age. I love these next gen explorers!

One of the most popular approaches in the news lately is STEM education. It involves science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in its curriculum. My son-in-law, Dan (the grandsons’ dad!), has been invested in “hands-on” education for years now. Back in the day, he never used chairs in his classroom. He wanted his students to be up on their feet using their heads, hands, and imaginations! Mr. Hartman was hugely popular with his classes, and everyone wanted to be in those chair-less classrooms under his tutelage!

Today, he and our daughter, Michelle, offer flexible options for homeschool and public-school students through their not-for-profit, Heritage Ministries Incorporated. HMI is committed to a process of discipleship education that helps kids form a Christian worldview for all their life choices. Recent courses have included: engineering in the classroom, leatherwork, and woodfire cooking. The mission of HMI is to “provide students with knowledge and skills that will help them to navigate the 21st century by serving their families and friends well.”

Jesus Christ modeled hands-on learning with His Disciples. You see Him in action the first time He called to them on the Sea of Galilee, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” (Mark 1:17, NRSV). It was an invitation to be with Him during the next three years of instruction and mentoring in ministry. They would listen to Him teach and pray. They were with him as he healed the sick and raised the dead. They were by His side as He dealt with opposition and saw how He faced death on the cross.

Their development was a process in three stages: 1) Jesus does ministry and the disciples watch Him. 2) They do ministry together with Him. 3) They do ministry on their own and Jesus watches them! The goal of mentoring them was to one day release them for their own ministry. With this level of investment in them, it’s no wonder that The Seventy returned from their mission joyfully exclaiming, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” (Luke 10:17). These disciples had been mentored well and were equipped, encouraged, and empowered for ministry!

Who are you helping to grow in Christ? Have you added value to someone’s life lately? Let’s continue to mentor others for the Glory of Christ and His Coming Kingdom!

Check out Heritage Ministries Inc.… https://www.facebook.com/heritageministriesinc/

Contact: danh.psalm127@gmail.com

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com



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