It 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
There 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?