Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 2010
Associate Professor of Christian Education and Youth Ministry, Memphis Theological Seminary, Memphis, Tennessee; General Secretary, Department of Christian Education, Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church
For Rev. Dr. Carmichael D. Crutchfield, Christian education, which he defines as “the spiritual uplifting of people,” extends far beyond the typical teaching settings. In his ministry, he focuses not only what he teaches but also how he teaches it, identifying nurture and formation as two elements that are essential to the education of God’s people. Formation is the what—“the essence of what we do throughout our lives to shape people to be faithful and loyal to God”—and nurture is the how, the ways in which teaching, fellowship, service, preaching, and worship all help to shape and form people in the faith.
Dr. Crutchfield draws his understanding of faithfulness from Matthew 22, the “greatest commandment,” and he characterizes gospel ministry as not only being committed to loving God and neighbor, but also “being a witness to that love in the world in every station and place in life.” Because witness is key, it is not enough for Christians to spend time in devotion, prayer, or reading Scripture; it is equally important to “be involved in the lives of other people through compassion, to be intently concerned about justice in every aspect of life, to look toward a vision of God where all of humanity is valued and considered important, and to seek justice and liberation and freedom and to fight for those aspects of life.” Dr. Crutchfield has been inspired by those who embody the claim to love God and neighbor—from Martin Luther King, Jr. to his own father, William T. Crutchfield, who had a deep love for the Bible and prayer, but also an authentic sense of concern for those outside the household.
His time at Garrett-Evangelical was instrumental in helping Dr. Crutchfield know “that it is possible to change lives through teaching,” and he credits Jack Seymour with instilling this knowledge in him through his own teaching and writing. He also credits Dr. Reginald Blount for giving him an interest in the research area of critical pedagogy. Changing lives through teaching, Dr. Crutchfield believes, happens both in the academy as well as in the church, and what he does in one setting is applicable in the other. He identifies leadership as an essential focus in the future for both the church and for CBE—lifting up leaders who are able to envision a goal or direction and compel others to go in that direction—and Christian education, he believes, is essential for developing, motivating, and forming a new generation of leaders.