The concept has been defined in many ways, depending on individual perspectives. Some authors provide synonyms for better understanding, such as newness, recent, pleasant, recreated, and attractive. From these synonyms, definitions of freshness evolved. Freshness could, therefore, be said to be a state of being new in appearance, taste, and usefulness.
Two opinions can be formed when something is said to be fresh.
- New-made, such as never been in existence: That is, something that has not been done or said before.
- Recreated, it puts on a new appearance and is reformed.
The two opinions mentioned above are applied to the Literary Education Ministry of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
What is Literacy Education Ministry (LEM)
It is the demonstration of God’s love for the generality of what people know and what they do not know at a point in time in their lives.
The Need for Freshness in Literacy Education Ministry
If the Literacy Education Ministry (LEM) will really meet the needs of our contemporary time, there must be freshness in the areas below.
1. There is a need for the right perception.
Freshness is needed in the way we perceive LEM. Some people believe that Literacy Ministry is only for those who do not know the “hows” of reading, writing, and Arithmetic. This belief needs to change as Literacy Ministry is beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is learning whatever was not known at a point in time.
Aside the from fact raised above, the Literacy Education Ministry of the Nigerian Baptist Convention is more than a program. It is a ministry where people’s lives are touched and transformed. It is a means to bring souls to the kingdom of God.
2. There’s the need for perfect recruitment.
There is a need for freshness in the recruitment of Literacy workers. In some cases, workers are only based on their skills, especially in teaching, their spiritual life is not considered. Our strong appeal now is that nobody, except a committed Christian, should be recruited to be a Literacy worker.
Also, some churches recruit only older people for the Literacy Ministry. They mistake Literacy Education Ministry for Adult Education. This is a wrong assumption. Hence, with technological advancement, there is not much we can learn from young Christians through Literacy Ministry.
Therefore, churches must internationally recruit young Christian men and women into the ministry both as facilitators and learners, to ensure continuity and the learning of new things.
3. There is a need for a relevant methodology.
Freshness is needed in the method of facilitating learning. There is a need for our approach to experience freshness. We must use what some scholars called (PLAS a participatory Learning Action System (National Mass Education Commission).
The learners must be involved in the learning process. A literacy facilitator must be careful not to become a teacher or lecturer, he or she must remain a facilitator.
4. There is a need for an audience.
Freshness in our target group is needed. Before now, the target of the Literary Ministry had mainly been people who did not have the opportunity to attend the formal school system, especially older adults. This made the ministry tactically exclude some age groups in the Literary Education Ministry.
However, for freshness in the Literary Education Ministry, there should be a program for all age groups in the Literary Education of the Church. Also, the Literary Education Ministry programs should go beyond learning to read and write. It should now include helping every age group learn what they did not know at a particular time, including empowerment and entrepreneurship, among others.
5. There is a need for a teaching process.
Freshness should also apply to our learning materials. Many of our learning materials need to be updated and/or reviewed to meet the current needs of society Aside from the updating and reviewing, there is the need to create some other learning materials to meet the literacy needs of society, especially the new age groups included in the ministry.
The Literacy Education Division at the headquarters has started working on bringing out a new curriculum that involves different age-group learning. The current Primer has been considered old and not all-inclusive.
The Division is working on reviewing the old Primer to meet the contemporary challenges of society. It is now designed to include all age groups. Hence, there will be a Primer for children, teenagers, youths, and adults.
6. There is a need to identify the needs of the learners.
The Literacy Ministry has its origin in the ministry of Jesus Christ. In Mark 6: 30-44, Jesus saw a large crowd follow Him to a solitary place. First, He had compassion for them. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd before teaching them many things.
After He taught them, he did not send them away but met their physical needs. This shows that Jesus met their physical and spiritual needs. Freshness in LEM should be to identify the physical and spiritual needs in the lives of the learners and meet them.
This is very essential! In Literacy Ministry, one of the main principles is identifying needs and drawing up a plan of action to meet the identified needs.
7. There is a need to show Christ-centered love to the learners.
Literacy Ministry is a God-centered love in action. Jesus used the methodology of genuine love, devoid of any ulterior motive, to reach out to people. Christ-centered love involves believers sharing their God-given gifts to help people realize their God-given potentialities. This means reaching out to others with God’s love. This will lead learners to learn new skills and develop a new desire to know Jesus Christ. This kind of love must be put into an actual demonstration by using sensitive, humble, faithful, ready to go the extra mile for others’ success and giving comfort to others. Christ’s love is a powerful weapon to win people’s hearts.
8. There is a need to minister to people living with disabilities.
To show freshness in the Literacy Education Ministry, churches should begin to plan how they can minister to people living with disabilities. There is a need to be fully involved in this area. Some members keep their disabled children at home because of shame. These PLWDs are also around our homes and they are everywhere. According to Foluke Ola, they are individuals created by God and they need the Gospel and the love of God. As Literacy facilitators, we can do the following:
- Plan along with your pastor on how to start the ministry in your church.
- Possibly get a trained specialist to handle the ministry.
- Learn how to minister to this category of people. You can read more on it or get the book Christian Educator as an Educating Evangelist and the 2021 CED Resource Booklet.
- Announce to the church that parents who have disabled children can now bring them to the church for ministrations.
- Inform your pastors to get someone who can translate in sign language during all church programs.
- Make your programs and building structures for people with disabilities.
9. There is a need to evangelize through digital means.
The nation has got to a stage where it is becoming increasingly delicate to go about preaching. Evangelism through digital means should be widely explored since the evolution of the digital world has been realized to be God’s handwork.
The digital world has become the mission field of the 21st century and a powerful evangelization tool. Gospel messages can be sent through SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Email, etc.
10. There is a need to integrate age groups
Since Literacy Ministry is to help people know what they did not know at a point in time, it should be organized to address the needs in the lives of different age groups. There are lessons that children, teenagers, youths, and adults did not know at a particular time, which they need to know.
Teenagers can learn legitimate Crypto skills, Advanced computer Learning, Fin-Tech, etc. However, adults and youths can be empowered with skill acquisition to reduce unemployment. Studies and lectures can be organized on burning issues such as Christian attitudes during elections, family finances, and security at home and in the church.
11. There is a need to teach learners digital literacy.
Training young ones in the church to become digitally literate is essential. When they are trained, abuse will be averted. Digital literacy warrants a basic understanding of how digital communication technologies affect our lives together.
12. There is a need to teach Biblical literacy.
There is a biblical illiteracy epidemic in the church today. The Bible is more accessible today than it has been in any other generation.
An adage says, “Only a fool continues to do things the same way and expects a different result.” If there is going to be a result-oriented Literacy Education Ministry and if the ministry will fulfill all its purposes and meet contemporary needs, then there is a need for freshness in all the ways the ministry is being handled in achieving the heavenly goals.
This paper was written by Mr. Solomon O Adeyemo and Rev. Mary Abiola Adeoye and Presented by Dn. Adeola Adelakun during Emmanuel Baptist Association (EBA) Seminar/workshop program on 13th November 2022