I don’t know if I would have ever described myself as a person who loves learning. I wasn’t one of those students who just couldn’t get enough of classroom and homework time. I wanted to get out into the world and do something. However, I would describe myself as a person who absolutely loves discovery! It happens when I detect a sliver of something that is foreign to me, poking up through the ordinary things of life. I want to uncover it and study everything about this new thing that has revealed itself to me.
That is exactly what has happened as a result of becoming the publisher of both Christian Standard and The Lookout. My life has been filled with discoveries about our movement, previously unknown key players inside of it, and the results of their impact. That happened recently while reading an article by Eleanor Daniel. She wrote, “Early leaders deplored the fragmentation of the Christian world that so often elevated creeds above Scripture. ‘Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where they are silent, we are silent’ was a guiding principle. Our forbears believed that unity was possible if all believers knew and understood the Scripture.”
Alexander Campbell asserted from the beginning that Bible study would be the catalyst for the restoration of the church. He dreamed of a comprehensive method of education illustrated by his work as a legislator and as creator of Bethany College on his own property. He was introduced to Sunday school in 1780 in Glasgow and became a member of one. Sunday school was being introduced to America about the same time as the Restoration Movement was forming and Campbell was quick to encourage churches to establish Sunday schools, teaching children and empowering parents to teach their children daily.
Isaac Errett, Campbell’s protege and first publisher of Christian Standard, was also committed to teaching both parents and children in the church. His vision led to the establishment of Standard Publishing in 1872 for the purpose of creating materials to help in the process of Christian education. They began to print “International Uniform Lessons” that evolved into a monthly Sunday school leaflet. Take-home papers were introduced for all ages eventually developing into The Young People’s Standard that in 1889 became The Lookout magazine, what you’re reading right now.
It didn’t stop there. In 1910, the American Christian Missionary Society created the Christian Board of Publication to publish educational materials for churches. One educator, Hazel Lewis, trained 26,500 teachers in 6,070 churches between 1910 and 1920. Cynthia Pearl Maus, a specialist in youth work, developed a new approach she called Vacation Bible School and Standard Publishing was the first to mass produce it in 1923. Lillie Ann Faris, a gifted storyteller to children, came to work for Standard Publishing in 1910 and developed a new method for teaching children she called “flannelgraph.” Standard Publishing was the first to print on flannel for the purpose of teaching the Bible. Faris also produced and edited countless Bible stories for children of all ages for over 30 years. Herbert Moninger created a curriculum from Bible lessons he had taught for adults called “Training For Service.” His training was updated by C. J. Sharp, Orrin Root, and finally in 1983 by Eleanor Daniel. Moninger was the one who reorganized The Lookout with a bent toward Christian education.
Reading Eleanor Daniel’s article provoked me to reflect on my life. I thought of the Bible story book my mother read to me every night at bedtime. I thought about the flannelgraph stories my Sunday school teaches shared that sparked my imagination. I thought of being a “Jet Cadet” with my hat, sash, and awards, memorizing and looking up Bible verses in “Sword Drills.” I thought about being on the Bible Bowl team and competing at the NACC. And then I realized it. I had discovered who had planted the seeds of my Christian education and now, here I am, doing everything I know how to bring that understanding to future generations. I encourage you to crack open God’s Word today and discover something that will change your life forever!