Why Would We Choose to Send our Children to a Christian School?
First of all, one must ask the question: “What is the purpose of a school?”
We believe that a school’s ultimate purpose should be to equip children to understand the truth about life, the world, and their place in it. We also believe that in order to understand these truths, the deeper questions regarding the meaning and purpose of life cannot be ignored.The curriculum of public education cannot guide students through these deeper questions of life using the Word of God as its standard of truth. Christian Schools, on the other hand, seek to equip students to recognize the Lordship of Christ in all subject areas of learning and to respond in obedience to His call to be transforming influences in the world.
Secondly, not only does a school shape a child’s mind, but one also cannot ignore the impact that a school has on the heart of a child. All schools have a vision for the kind of person they want their students to become. In other words, schools do not only teach information, but they also seek to educate the emotions and influence the living actions of a child’s life. The power a school has to impress a worldview on a youngster is great.
So the ultimate question then becomes: “What kind of school mission do I want at work in my child’s life?”
Here is an example of a mission statement from a local public school: “… is committed to educating the whole child by building character, enriching knowledge, and exploring paths to achieve individual excellence.”
In contrast, here is the mission statement & statement of purpose of St. Paul’s Lutheran School: “St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School exists to share Christ with the world, proclaim Christ through His word, and to live in Christ as His children to be blessed with a future in heaven. St. Paul’s Lutheran School, in partnership with the Christian home, seeks to shape minds and mold hearts by applying faith to all areas of life and learning.”
When faced with the question of which kind of mission statement we wanted at work in our children’s lives, the choice for Christian education became very clear.
The goal of Christian education is to guide children towards an understanding that God is at the center of every pursuit of knowledge. Not only that, but Christian schools also strive to help students recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in molding their hearts in submission to Christ, and in doing that, equipping them to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. There is no greater purpose for a school than to guide students towards embracing the world in this way.
Finally, what follows are some “challenging” comments and questions we frequently hear concerning Christian education (and a short response to each):
1. Can’t one teach Christian principles at home, outside of school?
The obvious answer here is “Yes.” The Christian school does not exist to replace good Christian parenting. Rather, Christian education functions as an extension of what the parent is seeking to accomplish in the lives of their children. It is important for us that our children not only see God being acknowledged and honored at home, but also in their school. We do not believe God should be so intentionally “compartmentalized” (acknowledging His place in the home but rejecting His importance in school). This is not an impression we wish to give our children.
2. But many Christians have gone to public schools and turned out just fine!
Again, no one can deny this. Yet parents must ask themselves, “What kind of educational atmosphere do I wish to provide for my child?” We have all become who we are by God’s grace, but this does not stop us from doing all we can to train our children to recognize God’s central place in their lives. The difference between the public and Christian school is not in the professionalism of its staff or perfection of its student body, but in the focus and goals of it’s education. In a Christian school setting, parents are assured that every teacher will not only challenge students with rigorous academics but also frame the whole of their curriculum through the lens of Scripture and openly model the love of Jesus through their actions and words.
3. Shouldn’t Christians be “out in the real world” making a difference in non-Christian circles? Aren’t Christian schools segregating themselves?
If a Christian school becomes an institution that shelters its students into a reclusive life, then it should seriously re-evaluate its mission. The mission of Christian education, however, seeks to do just the opposite-to create perceptive Christians who are equipped to be transforming influences in the world. Not only that, but are not children in Christian schools equally in need of salvation? Christian school students are searching and struggling with life’s issues just as much as those students in public schools. Witnessing in the world and providing Christ-centered education is not an either-or proposition. Just as we don’t reject attending church on the grounds that it is an “exclusive” place where believers separate themselves from society, we must also use this same reason as it pertains to Christian education. This reasoning is flawed because churches equip God’s people for effective service in the world. Likewise, Christian schools seek to equip children with a worldview that places God at the center of all life, in every subject matter, in every classroom.
4. Christian school kids behave just as badly as those in public schools.
We would never argue against this point. The value of Christian school lies in its educational focus (and the open Christian witness of every teacher), not in the perfection of its student body. In fact, we might say it’s because of the sinfulness of our children that the choice for a Christ-centric education should be made.
St. Paul’s Lutheran School wishes to acknowledge the work of Lynden Christian Schools in thoroughly presenting a statement of “Why Christian Education?”