What Makes Our School Christian?

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I recall a number of years ago the story of a young family who had joined an Anabaptist church from a non-Christian background. They were so happy to be part of God’s family and the Christian brotherhood. Soon they realized this group had the added blessing of a Christian Day School for their children to attend. How delighted they were. It wasn’t long; however, after their children were in attendance, they became disappointed at the stories coming home with their children about the carnal behavior of the students from this Christian Day School. What was going on? These negative reports could hardly be true from out of a school such as this one! In sharing his frustrations with another brother from church, the father asked him what his advice or counsel would be concerning this surprising dilemma. The brother gently pointed out to the distraught father that indeed the school was Christian administrated, yet full of unchristian children. Seeking to provide a Christian environment and Christian education for their children certainly doesn’t change the sinful nature of the students.
Although born into a Mennonite Christian home with Bible teaching and Christian education, I have found myself on occasion concurring with this young father’s disappointments in my own journey with Christian Education.
Is promulgating the vision of those early founders of Christian Education really worth the effort to continue? Is the fruit coming out of this ongoing endeavor producing the stable Christians our homes and churches need? Can we, in modern times, continue to inspire fresh vision, raise enough finances, and hire committed staff for this daunting task?
The Evil One is against any engagement that will build God’s Kingdom. Certainly, we can see from the Word, the heart of Father God relating to the education of our children.
And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children (Isa. 54:13).
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Duet. 6:6-9).
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
But Jesus said, suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence (Matt. 19:14-15).
We have experienced many years filled with Christian Education because godly men in the past were concerned for their children. These brethren acted on Holy Spirit inspired vision to shelter their children from an ungodly school environment and provide Christian schools with God and His Word as the central theme during education. This initial endeavor with all its hurdles and complications, along with the dedication of many more Christians who furthered this work, is in the past and joins the ranks of Christian heroes who chose God’s work above personal interest, gain, and goals.
This excellent vision must live again in each new generation of Christians. Godly men and fathers, who love the Lord and His teachings, face the awesome responsibility anew to show their children how to walk in God’s way, knowing there will always be challenging evil forces rising against them. Three categories sum up my thoughts on this subject: Oversight, Teachers, and Parents.
Christian education in modern times has taken on many different organizational faces. Administrations of these institutions are chosen and give direction in a variety of ways. Men who find themselves given responsibility in the administration of a Christian school should feel blessed and excited about these opportunities. At the same time, they should develop a burden of ownership as the outcome of their children’s spiritual decisions is greatly influenced through their early education.
A school is Christian when godly men work together in making organizational decisions collectively. They must be men who ponder the outcome of various trends, seek out staff who will further this work effectively, and work through interpersonal relationship issues in the fear of God. These men willingly give time, money, and their own particular inspiration to the work while learning to submit to others opinions, be team players, and sacrifice many hours behind the scenes.
Administration is often misunderstood and criticized, yet men who have their hearts in this work should be challenged to better lead out with clarity and without respect of persons.
Teachers are the best curriculum. Not all have the gift of teaching; some who aspire to the job are not able to perform effectively in a classroom. Some possess the gift of teaching, yet are not Christian.
A school is Christian when the administration seeks out individuals who not only possess the gift of teaching but whose hearts are transformed by Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal of these teachers is to shine into their students the Light of Jesus while turning on the lights of learning and academic comprehension.
A school is Christian when its teachers seek to understand the complexity of what makes up each child’s thought processes and perspectives. These teachers must help the children, whether slow or fast, to learn the fundamentals of education. It needs to be more important to this teacher what the overall attitude, behavior, and respect level of the child is than what his grades are.
Christian educators view their students as eternal beings at an age where their consciences and worldviews are being formed rapidly. These teachers will seek to utilize opportunities to instill God’s teachings and God’s will for man upon the child’s impressionable mind. They will use the study of science, math, language, world history, culture, music, and more to point out the awesome world God gave us to enjoy. The intricacy of Creation and the amazing bodies we live in, must thrill the teacher so he can instill a love for it into his students. Educators must use History to shew God’s direction of world powers down through the ages, and God’s universal love for all cultures and races. These principals will help children to someday fully surrender their hearts and lives to God.
We have heard it said and stated ourselves that “the church will only be as strong as the homes that are represented in it.” How true, and so it goes for the school.
A school is Christian when parents are providing home environments and teaching platforms that focus on God’s Word and require respect of authority from their children even as the parents are submitted to Christ. These parents will freely grant the school’s authority to watch over their children and support the school’s endeavor and vision. They will communicate about the needs and struggles of their child with the teacher yet encouraging their child to accept the different ways he will be tested academically and socially while learning to respect new authority.
Parents who desire their school to be Christian will listen to the varied stories coming home with interest or concern, yet not openly take up the child’s views of any given scenario before dialogue with the school staff. These parents will always seek to support the education process of their school through involvement in activities, taking responsibilities when appointed, refraining from criticism of faculties direction, and financially supporting the school liberally as the Lord prospers them.
A school is Christian when parents are deeply burdened about the influence of environment in the many hours their child’s education will require. The vision of our forefathers will live again in the hearts of these parents as they understand how detrimental public education would be. These parents are passionate regarding the spiritual decisions their children will need to make in life and place a high priority on the promulgation and practical efforts of Christian education.
Truly our hearts and lives are blessed from past and present opportunities God has given us to utilize education for His glory and the eternal good of our families. We are not guaranteed these privileges in the coming years. While it remains, let us partner together in our respective communities to inspire and influence the coming generation to further the cause of Christian education.