A big push in education these days is the emphasis on STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. According to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), “a common definition of STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.”
These four fields of study are growing exponentially and are areas in which our workforce needs to be enhanced. These are disciplines that we as a country were lacking in at times, but now we are matching where other countries are in these fields. It is a testament to the hard work of the educational administrators, teachers and students who helped our expertise and advancement in STEM grow.
The importance of STEM has come to light most recently with the development of vaccines for COVID and in the launching of manned rockets to the space station.
All of this expansion in STEM has led me to think about growth in the Church. What are the core tenets of the Church that need to be focused on more and enhanced? Here are my suggestions:
• Stewardship: The word stewardship itself can send a shiver down the spine of many a parishioner in the pew. The first thought associated with it is money. “They want my money.” But stewardship in the Church is much more, of course; it is the giving of our entire selves to the Lord. Money and offerings are just one part of it. Expressing our gratitude to God by giving of ourselves in many ways can be an emphasis that can enrich the concept of stewardship.
• Teaching: Many Sunday Schools and Bible studies have ended in the wake of the pandemic. But some classes still continue virtually and there can be a more concerted effort to make sure that people are still reached with the teachings of Jesus through such things as online sermon discussion groups after each Sunday service and daily devotions that go out to each member electronically.
• Evangelism: The thought of someone knocking on your door to tell you about Jesus can make even the most faithful believer wince a little. But evangelism does not only mean going door to door with the Gospel; it means just talking about your faith wherever you go with whomever you meet. It does not need to be a daunting task, but it is actually something that comes naturally to any follower of Christ. Helping people to feel more and more comfortable expressing their beliefs is a prime role of the Church that needs to be fostered more and more.
• Music: We are at a definitive crossroads in the Church regarding music. The days of hymnal music only in any service are dwindling fast, and the outbreak of rock-style contemporary music that is reaching the mainstream is exploding. Somewhere in the middle are the suburban and small-town churches that are doing a little of both traditional and contemporary and trying to balance the preferences of their parishioners at both ends of the spectrum. This can be a struggle, but the Church must make sure that the role of music remains central to worship in whatever form it takes and we must as church-goers be open to new options and experiences when it comes to making a joyful noise to the Lord.
May this STEM (Stewardship, Teaching, Evangelism and Music) of the Church flourish with God’s blessing.