In the 1800s something took place that Francis Curran, a professor of the history of American education, referred to as a revolutionary development in the history of education and in the history of Christianity. What was this revolutionary development? According to Curran, it was the surrender by American Protestantism…of the control of popular elementary education to the state.
He went on to predict that once one area of education went under state control, it would simply be a matter of time when all levels of schooling follow suit. The results of this monumental shift in who educates our young has been catastrophic to say the least. I have written about the devastating results of secular education for years. It has been sad to see the predictions of men such as Robert Lewis Dabney come true.
I am thankful that many Christians have tried to right the ship through the modern Christian day school movement. It was exciting and encouraging to have been part of this movement when Christian schools literally were exploding on the scene in the 1970s and 1980s. However, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what has been accomplished and what hasn’t taken place over the years.
Almost two years ago, our entire lives were turned upside down by the Covid virus. One result of this pandemic was that just about all schools went virtual. This meant that children and youth were, once again, at home receiving their education. Because of this, parents started realizing what their children were being taught in the state school system.
Many parents were shocked to learn that schooling was not just about the 3 Rs. There was something else going on. G.K. Chesterton understood what education is really about when he wrote the following.
Every education teaches a philosophy; if not by dogma, then by suggestion, by implication, by atmosphere.
It has been amazing to hear how Christian school enrollments are increasing all across the country. I continually read reports of how homeschooling is also exploding at an unprecedented rate. However, these occurrences have also caused me to give a great deal of thought to where the movement is headed. As I have been contemplating the current state of our country and Christian education, I find myself asking more questions than I have answers for.
Recently, a pastor asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks and I am still trying to find an answer to it. We had been talking about the reality that the home, church and Christian school have not done a good job on making disciples of Jesus Christ. It is true that there has been a strong emphasis on evangelism but we seem to have come up short on actually making disciples who are impacting the culture.
His question was, “what would a Christian school look like if it were totally built on a biblical discipleship model?” At times, I have wondered if, at the beginning of the modern Christian day school movement, we had done it all wrong? Did we take a secular model of what a school is and bring it under the auspices of a local church or Christian school board and simply attempt to Christianize it?
I have found myself asking a lot of other questions like these.
- Are we trying to just have a more “excellent” program than the neighboring public or private school?
- Has the effort to be “college prep” Christian schools caused us to adopt the typical course offerings that all other forms of schooling have thinking that God’s will for 98% or more of our graduates must be to go to college?
- Is there a better way of bringing the home, church and school together in a unified effort to make disciples of the next generation?
As I have wrestled with these questions, I have wondered if it is even possible to change how we do schooling to better fulfill the Great Commission? How do we get parents to take the time and rethink how God wants them to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Are church leaders willing to do whatever is necessary to assist parents in fulfilling their God-given responsibility of educating their children biblically?
As you can tell by the title of this blog, I have been doing a lot of thinking. I am not saying that a lot of good things are not happening in Christian schools all across the country. I also realize that many homeschooling parents are doing some wonderful things as they educate their children at home. As one of my former pastors once said, I simply have a “holy discontent” to want to do more.
I don’t have the answers to these questions but I share them with you to see if there are any other parents, pastors, administrators and teachers who may be thinking similar thoughts. If so, I would love to know your thoughts and, hopefully, some answers you have found to these all-important questions. Please leave a comment below and let’s pray that God will give all of us wisdom and direction as we strive to provide Kingdom Education™ to future generations.