A Challenge to Pastors

bible-glasses-and-penIt seems that as long as I have been involved in Christian education there has been a cry for pastors to be more supportive of biblically based education for our children and youth.  Over the years I have heard all the arguments and understand the enormous pressure that pastors are under when it comes to supporting Christian schools, home schools, private schools or public schools.  What has been the problem is that pastors, parents and educators have battled over the wrong question.  The issue facing pastors, and all Christians, is not about what school a child should attend.  The real issue is a philosophical one – it is about how God expects parents to educate their children.

That is why I am calling on pastors all across the country to address the issue of education biblically.  This is the challenge every Christian faces regarding every aspect of life – are we going to be willing to address any issue from a purely biblical perspective.  When we start debating what school a child should attend, I find the discussion centering on mere human opinion.  The result is the vast majority of children from Christian families receive a secular education.

Recently my good friend, Dr. Christian Overman, sent me a link to an article that proves my point.  The article was written by a pastor and was titled, 5 Reasons We Don’t Send Our Kids To Christian Schools.  I read this article with great interest, hoping to see what biblical base this pastor had for how he and his wife decided to educate their children.  Here are the five reasons he listed.

  1. Quality of Teachers – The author made the generalization that public schools had “better” teachers than Christian schools.  There is the false belief that quality of teaching is directly proportional to the degree a teacher has and the certification (which is totally controlled and determined by secular colleges of education) the teacher holds.  While teacher training is important, it is not a guarantee that it, alone, determines quality of teaching.
  2. Poor Funding Base – This is the same reasoning that I have heard for 49 years in teaching.  With better funding one will get better education.  We spend billions of dollars every year on education and still we are not seeing lives changed for the good in any dramatic way.
  3. Both have “Problem Kids” and “Negative Influences” – There is no question that students in any type of school have a sin nature and are bent toward doing what is wrong.  However, that is not a biblical reason for making a schooling choice.  The author even indicated that Christian schools may have kids there who can’t attend any other school as sort of a last chance reform effort.  Again, this is a very big assumption to make about Christian schools.
  4. Creepy Fundamentalist – Here the author made a very revealing statement.  He said,  Simply put, you don’t want your children educated by fundamentalist Christians who use dumbed-down curriculum riddled with false science and legalistic babbling.  It seems like he starts out from man’s perspective (especially related to science) rather than a biblical foundation.
  5. Discipleship – This is the age-old argument that says Christians need to send their children to secular schools in order to evangelize the lost.  One of the statements in the article said, If we remove all the Christian kids from the schools, who will influence those kids for Christ? And their families?  I won’t go into the addressing the salt and light argument since I did this in a series of blog posts last year.  Click here to read the first in that series.

I am not writing this to attack this pastor.  My point is he is giving his opinion to a lot of people on how to educate our children.  When you look at the 5 reasons, you see basic human reasoning as the foundation for all of them.  There is no biblical case for his position presented any where in the article (I may be one of those “creepy fundamentalist” he thinks Christians should avoid).

I am convinced that the reason why so many pastors struggle in addressing the issue of education biblically is because they have developed a dualistic worldview approach to life.  They have, like most Christians, divided life up into secular and sacred compartments.  The Bible applies to the “religious” aspect of life but things like education, work, recreation, etc. fall into the secular compartment.  The secular areas of life are looked at as spiritually neutral.

There is a need for pastors to develop a consistent theology of life and ministry.  For example, would a pastor encourage parents not to put their children in Sunday School classes or Bible study groups because of the quality of the teacher, the funding base of the church, peer influence, or “creepy fundamentalist” teachers?  Would pastors allow people to teach false ideas such as evolution, transgender equality, new age religion, extreme environmentalism, etc. in the church on a weekly basis?  I don’t think Bible-believing pastors would allow this to go on in their churches.  However, they don’t take a stand when this is done 30 hours a week in secular educational programs.

Several years ago, a church I attended was exploring whether or not they should start a Christian school.  I was asked to serve on the committee that was tasked to study this issue and make a recommendation to the pastoral staff and deacons of the church.  One of the first things the committee decided was that the church should not “start” a Christian school.  Instead, we studied the real question that needed to be answered.  Should the church “expand ministry” to include “schooling?”  After several months, the committee unanimously recommended that the church should expand ministry to include schooling.

We presented our report to the deacon body and the pastoral staff.  Here were some of the reasons why the deacon body did not think that the church should accept the committee’s recommendation.

  1. Since a small portion of the congregation may engage in this ministry, the church should not offer it.  I asked the deacon who said this if this was his theology of ministry for the church.  He said it was.  I asked the pastor what percentage of the membership was involved in the church’s outreach ministry.  He said it was probably less than 1%.  If that was the case and this was our theology of ministry, then we should be consistent and abolish this ministry of the church.
  2. One man said that we should not move forward because the market wasn’t asking for this.  Again, I asked him if this was his theology of ministry for the church and he said it was.  I then asked the pastor how many phone calls did the church receive each week from the community asking someone to come out and evangelize them.  Of course, the answer was zero. My challenge was that the church should not have an outreach ministry because the market wasn’t asking for this.

almost-midnight-copyThere were other arguments presented against the church expanding ministry to include schooling.  But they all followed similar reasoning.  Here is the point.  Pastors and church leaders need to address all areas of life, including education, biblically and develop a consistent theology of ministry that their churches will operate from.  I wonder what would happen if pastors would merely study the 10 Biblical Principles of Education that I present in my book, Kingdom Education and teach these biblical principles to parents.  This way parents would, at least, have a biblical base by which to make this all important decision for their children.  If we are going to raise a generation of young people who know God and can think and act from a biblical worldview, we must address the issue of education biblically.  Time is of the essence.  There is no other option!  What are your thoughts?

Glen Schultz

Author Glen Schultz

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Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Glen, you are going to the heart of the problem. I wonder how many pastors are reading your blog? May the Lord open doors for you to reach many pastors, and change minds. Onward and upward.

  • ,
    Glen, thanks for this insightful blog. While I have deep appreciation for many godly pastors, it never ceases to amaze me that so few speak up when it comes to this issue of how our children are being educated. What could be a more pressing pastoral responsibility than how our youth are being molded in terms of their worldview? As one public school educator observes: “Christian parents outside of some pretty small circles are blindly walking their children into a firing line that they will have almost zero chance of emerging from unscathed. And the church from what I can gather seems to be just as ignorant. The one institution that should be doing everything in its power to wake these parents from their comas is just as naively trusting in some sort of ‘godly cultural protection bubble’ to shield what will most likely become a lost generation of Christians.” I pray God will use your blog to awaken more of our pastors to this most strategic issue!

  • Luke Bowers says:

    Thank you Dr. Schultz for your weekly “truth telling” and encouragement! when I read your posts, I am reminded of the Lord’s instruction through Jude to “contend earnestly for the faith”. In a world where false teaching is outside and INSIDE the church, we need those given such a great salvation to stand up and lovingly and patiently speak the truth of God’s Word. Thank you for your weekly encouragement to do that!

  • Mark Kennedy says:

    Recently I attended a meeting of Church leaders where a pastor used the term ‘outsourcing’ to describe what he believes parents in his congregation do when they send their children to a public school or Christian school or when they opt for Christian home schooling. And he said his role was to support and affirm parents in whatever ‘educational outsource’ they chose. I was thankful he included Christian schooling and home schooling in his list. Some pastors would have intentionally left us out. But the ‘support and affirm’ concept bothered me and so did the idea that we are merely outsources. First of all, I asked myself if he would ‘support and affirm’ congregation members who “outsource” their children to Islamic schools or an alternative publicly funded schools for students who think they’re LGB or T (there are at least two of those schools in the area).
    ‘Or what if the parents’ educational outsource is Madame Zonga’s School of Erotic Dance?’I asked myself, maybe a bit facetiously. Shouldn’t the foundational values of an educational institution matter to Christians? What about the admonition in Ephesians 6:4 to train children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Doesn’t that extend beyond a weekly hour of Sunday school? More than that, does it make sense for an evangelical Christian leader to take a neutral stance about educational systems that intentionally deny basic biblical teachings and morals? I thought that pastors are supposed to lead their flock in God’s way, not just affirm and support their sheep wherever they choose to wander.

  • tom hudson says:

    I’m grateful that our pastor is one that supports having Christian school wholeheartedly. I couldn’t work for a more supportive pastor.

  • RIck Yost says:

    Cogent and persuasive. I agree with Christian that pastors just need to READ this. The most amazing aspect of this is the evident lack of attention to one of the primary influences in the lives of EVERY child in our churches. Lord, please help us reach our pastors. Only YOU can reach their hearts on this issue.

  • Bradley Dunn says:

    A recent Barna study was presented at one of our Christian school administrative meetings this fall. The study was trying to determine what was the most important things that prospective families were looking for in our schools versus what was important to those families who were already part of a Christian school. Interesting findings by the way. The presenter then shared that the Barna group surveyed 400 churches large and small all over the United States because they felt that the church would be the biggest supporters for Christian schools. What they found out was exactly the opposite. Most churches are not for Christian schools, they are not neutral either, but really are anti-Christian school. I would like to hear deeper reasons as to why this is happening. I agree with what Glen has written on this subject. Without the help of the church, not only are our schools in jeopardy, but our next generation for sure. Thanks for all you do regarding Kingdom Education!!

  • Glen Schultz says:

    Thanks to everyone who has shared their thoughts and wishes when it comes to this all important topic. As I read the different comments, I see, once again, this dichotomy of worldviews being applied to different life situations. It is apparent that many of the pastors have not developed a comprehensive biblical worldview themselves and that, if they have, they only apply it to the “religious” aspect of life. We need to understand that no one is neutral when it comes to this issue. God’s Word says that neutrality is never an option. We are either for God or against Him! Thanks for your input.

  • Brian Priest says:

    As a former Pastor, public school teacher, and current Christian school administrator, there is an additional reason that many pastors opt to not speak about or endorse Christian education – politics. One thing a pastor sees from the pulpit each Sunday morning is a slew of public school teachers occupying the pews, which I think is a wonderful thing. We need Christian educators in the public school system. Yet, when you ask a pastor to defend or support Christian education from the pulpit – let me say that differently – when I have asked pastors to support my Christian school, it has always flopped. As one pastor confessed to me after having a Christian school principal share at his church one morning, his public school teacher parishioners jumped him (not physically, of course) before he even left the building that morning. He vividly remembers this encounter. It’s not a strong conviction for this pastor so he let the whole issue go. That was years ago. He’s not alone. I think many pastors simply believe that it isn’t worth the inevitable fight that will emerge.

    The article referenced in this post is very interesting and something every Christian school administrator and teacher should read with great interest. I plan to share it with my MS/HS faculty. His thoughts are not original. Sadly, they capture the mindset of many. Honestly, there is some truth in his observations. Thus, we must strive to offer the best academic programs possible without sacrificing the gospel. This is certainly possible and occurs daily in Christian schools across the globe.

  • Mark Beadle says:

    The article and subsequent comments were very good. I also liked Glen’s example that it is not about whether to have or start a Christian school. It is about how best to disciple children and teens. Many churches invest far more in ministries for other age levels than they do in ministries for those below the age of 18. This is despite the fact that we know our worldview and even path of service is set in those years.

    Since many churches have an upcoming annual meeting or budget session, could I suggest that this year we each take a look at the amount invested in just Sunday School? I bet it is small as a percentage of the whole. Many churches will take any willing and screened adult to be a teacher for example.

    Anyway– just one small aspect that relates to the challenge that Glen cogently presents. Thanks Glen!

  • Dr. Christian Klaue says:

    Thanks, Glen. You underscore the need for a biblical worldview. As a pastor and Christian school principal, I try to make teaching a biblical worldview the heartbeat of my school. Getting rid of that dualism is so important. The pastor of the school that started my school does not support Christian education because he does not see the benefit of it and, ‘the Christian school is not the Bride of Christ.’ I have preached on the importance of a biblical education in surrounding churches and have been attacked because I did not promote public schooling. In my 24 years experience, I have found that most teachers in Christian schools are actually better teachers than are found in the public system. Most parents have no clue exactly how anti-Christian the public system now is. They still think of public school the way it was in the 1970s and 1980s. We are very far removed from this. Thanks for the good reminder of the importance of a Christian education.

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