Why should I have my child in a Christian school? - 10 FAQs
1. Doesn't God expect Christian children to attend public school where He wants them to witness to unsaved classmates?
Deuteronomy 6 and many other passages of Scripture clearly establish God's mandate for His people - train the next generation to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. Many Christian school leaders have called this training the development of a Christian worldview. Our ultimate goal for our children must be for each one to view all of life from a Scripture-centered perspective rather than a human-centered perspective that is taught in secular schools.
A frequently used analogy is the comparison of training troops for war, an apt one in light of the apostle Paul's admonition to prepare ourselves for battle. What if the United States were to gather its best eighteen-year-olds together and send them to Russia to be trained for four years in the very best military schools in that nation? Could we then confidently commission them four years later to be United States Marines, soldiers who are ready to fight and die in accordance with their training? Such a plan is ludicrous! Aren't Christian parents approaching the education for their children in this way, however, when they send God's soldiers for the twenty-first century to be taught in schools that have removed His Word and His standards?
2. If we focus on the training of our children and decide to remove them from secular schools, are we not abandoning the unsaved children left behind?
Absolutely not! We must approach this arena as we do any mission field. Certainly there are Christian teachers who have a special call to teach in public schools. Many other adults use their God-given abilities to lead school clubs such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Young Life. Many churches are involved with successful after-school tutoring programs. Others have chosen to become active in the political arena in an effort to effect change in local schools. Special occasions should be set aside for the commissioning of all those who serve Christ in this way. Christians must not abandon public schools! But I won't give them my children! God has entrusted them to me.
3. Aren't Christians removing their children from reality?
God's truth and His instruction in the Bible are the realities Christians must pursue. Anything that opposes these is deception. Satan beckoned Eve to experience a new perspective and gain new knowledge. We all see this as counterfeit and confront daily the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve because they were deceived. Our children must grow in an environment that presents a Christian worldview of God's one and only reality. One Christian educator wrote:
The responsibility for educating children belongs to parents, who received them as a gift from God. Psalm 127:3 (KJV) notes that "children are a heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his reward." The word heritage means "something inherited; an estate inherited from one's father or ancestor" (Strong 1886). Each child is created by God in His own image (Genesis 1:27) and then given to parents, who are responsible to educate the child according to God's Word. While parents may elect to use the assistance of other people in educating their children, the responsibility clearly belongs to them - not to the government, the church, or the school. This means that parents are responsible to God for the educators they choose to assist them in the education process. (Hartazler 2004-05)
4. Aren't Christian schools like hothouses sheltering kids from harsh or unpleasant experience?
Many Christian school leaders simply point to the strong advantages of a special plant raised in the nurturing environment of a greenhouse. Such a setting provides the much-needed opportunity for the development of a strong, unshakable root system to be established so that when the plant is placed in a hostile setting it will be healthy enough to survive. Our children must have an opportunity to be firmly grounded in God's Word.
5. Will my child have the opportunity to know non-Christians and witness to them?
This issue can be approached in a number of ways. Few Christian schools would claim that all of their students are saved. Most will admit students who are unsaved or unchurched as long as they have a positive attitude. Beyond the interaction they have with their classmates, students have weekly opportunities to witness to others their own age at school athletic events with other schools, at church-sponsored events, at community recreational activities, as well as kids in their own neighborhoods.
6. If public school was good enough for past generations, why is it not acceptable today?
This concern is perhaps at the core of most people's objections to enrolling their children in a Christian school and is easily the most volatile. Many parents and church leaders today look back to their high school days with rich nostalgia and wonder why anyone would call into question the school systems that helped produce so many fond memories. I attended a public high school in North Carolina. Our head custodian was a bivocational pastor who preached to us and shared the gospel on every occasion. Every Christmas, over the high school public address system, Pastor Andrew read the account in the Gospels abouth the birth of Christ to the entire student body. Andrew is no longer there, and that is not the only thing that has changed! The Bible is out; condoms are in. My strong urging to every adult who has been out of school longer than five years is to investigate for himself or herself. If you find that your local schools are a positive environment for a growing Christian teenager, then express thanks to the Lord and encourage them to continue. However, such is not the case for the vast majority of the secular schools that I am aware of.
7. Aren't some Christian teenagers successful in public school?
Without a doubt, some Christian teenagers are successful in public schools. Such a situation reminds me of Daniel and his three friends standing firm in the face of opposition in a hostile land. These young men were ready for the challenges of their faith. In much the same way, Esther was confronted with the challenge of standing against a culture that opposed her Lord. My response is, if your child is a Daniel or an Esther, then he or she may be ready for challenges if he or she believes God is leading the way. However, those types of kids are rare indeed. Also, parents must consider the amount of deprogramming that must occur as children are confronted with nonbiblical teaching.
8. Can graduates of Christian high schools gain acceptance into the college of their choice?
The track record of Christian school graduates is so well established that this is no longer a serious concern for most parents. My first response to parents is to encourage them to check with the admissions office of any college or university they are interested in. I have never heard a negative response from an admissions committee when asked about admitting graduates from Christian schools. I also tell parents to consider Matthew 6:33 and be confident that God's best awaits our children if we teach them to put Him first.
9. Aren't some students prevented from attending a Christian school because of high tuition costs?
Unfortunately, yes, some students are. But this is a concern that the Body of Christ can actively do something about. One approach is to challenge every church in the area to establish a scholarship fund. Each church would administer its own fund that could be used to support students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, homeschooling, college, and seminary. Imagine if each church made a one-thousand-dollar scholarship available for a student who attends a Christian school.
10. What Scripture passage supports the decision to send children to Christian schools?
There are numerous passages that support the decision to send children to Christian schools, including Deuteronomy 6 discussed earlier in this chapter. Proverbs 22:6 instructs parents to "train a child in the way he should go." The Hebrew word for training literally means "touch the palate," which refers to the practice of a Hebrew mother placing on her baby's tongue bits of food that she had chewed. As the baby was fed, he or she not only received nourishment but also developed an appetite for nutritious foods. In the same way, each of us is to lead our children to develop godly appetites as they grow. As we commit ourselves to raising the next generation for Christ, the Holy Spirit will bless our efforts to develop a Christian worldview in the minds and hearts of the children God has entrusted to us.
Derek Keenan, vice president of academic affairs at the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), uses the phrase, "teaching our kids to swim beyond the bouys." In the final analysis, isn't that what we want? We must plan for our graduates of Christian schools to leave the confines of our homes, churches, and schools prepared to meet the rough currents of workplaces and the open hostility found on most college campuses.
The Helmsman: Leading with Courage and Wisdon
by Kenneth S. Coley, ISBN 1-58331-073-8, pp.7-11