Why choose a Christian education for your child?
This is a great question and one that has been asked by many. As the administration and educators of a Christian school, we are fully aware and have answers to the main questions surrounding this topic. We encourage you to thoroughly read the questions and answers below to determine the right course of education for your family.
The Purpose of Education
What do Christian Schools see as the purpose of education?
School is an accepted, in fact expected, part of our modern society. We assume it is a good thing. Access to education is now seen as a right not a privilege. Before choosing a school, Christian parents should take a step back and ask a more important question - "what is the purpose of education?" For many parents the often unstated goal of a school education is to prepare their child for a career. Going to university is often seen as the doorway to this. The purpose of education can then become simply the creating of future employees and employers. The Bible has a radically different purpose for life than is taught in most schools.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
In light of this the purpose of education could be to help children understand their God given gifts and abilities so as to serve Him and others in society. An education which denies God, or seeks to diminish His importance misses this "chief aim". Instead it often focuses on the personal success of the individual. The definition of success is often vague. For some, success is defined by what we have attained to or acquired. One of God's definitions of success is found in Matthew 25:23. Here Jesus says "well done good and faithful servant" when speaking of a man who wisely used the talents God had given him.
What is it we really want for our children as a result of their years of education? Is it to be happy, have friends, a job and to travel? The most common desire for Christian parents is that their children will make good choices in life. To choose satisfying work, good friends, to share, to treat others like they wish to be treated. Ultimately it is to choose to follow Jesus and serve God and others with their gifts and abilities. A child's education is more than imparting knowledge. It is to impart wisdom to make wise choices in life.
A Christian school is by no means perfect, but is seeking to impart a godly wisdom for life. The Bible says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Proverbs 9:10 The foundation upon which an education system is based is therefore important.
As parents we need to be confident our children will receive in school a wisdom which is worth having.
The Role of Parents
Who is responsible for your children?
Christian schooling is often seen as a contentious issue among Christians. Yet most would agree the Bible teaches that parents are responsible for raising and educating their children.
Whether Christian parents choose home schooling, secular, private or Christian schools this responsibility remains. The Bible says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
In many ways parents are like spiritual shepherds to their own children.
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:2-3
Like a shepherd, parents care for, lead and protect their children. How we choose to raise our children, and who we engage to help us, provides an example for our children to follow.
When parents enlist the help of others to assist them, be they teachers, sport coaches, Sunday School teachers or even piano instructors they don’t lose their responsibility. It is ultimately up to parents to decide who will be their child’s teacher.
Christian schools are not a way to escape from other education systems, nor take over the task of home or church. Christian schools are an expression of Christian parents attempting to fulfill their responsibility to raise and train their children in a godly manner. They do this by co-operating with, or teaming up with, other like-minded parents.
Christian schools help parents to train the next generation to understand the real world as God designed it. Their hope is that children will discover their place in God’s great story, learn how to serve others and be better prepared for life. In Christian schools, parents can do together what they feel they cannot do alone. They remain active and willing participants rather than merely consumers of an educational service.
Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9
The Question of Salt and Light
Shouldn't children be salt and light in the community?
One of the most common concerns raised by Christian parents is that removing children out of secular schools would make them less effective witnesses in the wider community. They ask how can children be salt and light in the world if they are in a Christian school? Let us look at the scriptures for answers.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. Matthew 5:13
Jesus described us as salt. We are to preserve, flavour, enhance and have an impact on our society. Yet in the same scripture Jesus explains salt can lose its saltiness. Our salty influence in society can be diminished. If this occurs we are described as "no longer good for anything".
As Christians, our role is to reform the world around us. We are called to be in the world but not of it. Being salt and light is a lifelong calling.
A significant role of school is helping prepare children for all of life. The 12 or so years spent at school is relatively short when compared with an average life span.
The thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and outlook on life formed during school years can last a lifetime. The vision of Christian schools is not separation from non Christians. Rather it is about preparation to live life in such a way as to be salt and light wherever and whatever children choose to do.
As parents a more significant question we must ask ourselves is whether it is healthy to use our children as a means of creating evangelistic opportunities for us. Deliberately immersing a child into an educational culture which denies the existence of God and Jesus' central role in history should not be treated lightly.
Parents need to understand that putting their children under the daily influence of teachers who have a fundamentally different way of seeing life can influence them for life. Fortunately families who choose a Christian school are still part of the wider society. They can still make friends and influence others whether through sport, child activities, neighbours or a variety of other ways.
In the Bible children are seen as a blessing. We have one opportunity to raise our children. These years will pass quickly. Christian Schools can help parents in their role.
Isn't Education Neutral?
Every education curriculum is based on a belief system.
What we believe about education is important. A common belief is that education is neutral. How to read, write or calculate doesn't immediately appear to require any beliefs, a sense of right or wrong or impact upon how we relate to others.
Every education curriculum is based on a belief system. We seek to educate others about what we believe is most important for life. In the same way by not teaching some things we are implying these are not important. As society's beliefs change so do the subjects being offered.
The beliefs expressed in a secular school may initially appear tolerant and accepting of all ideas. In practice however they actively diminish or deny God's role and plan in history, the present and the future.
Secular schools claim to teach the values that are considered the basis of our laws and customs and how we treat others in our society. As parents the important question to ask is what are these values now based on. Are values decided by the majority? Are there any absolutes? Are values subjective and changing over time? Who determines what is important and what is not?
The Bible urges us… whatever you do in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ giving glory to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
Whatever you do is a very broad statement. It includes education. What a Christian teacher does - in whatever subject - can give glory to God. Likewise whatever subjects a child may study, or careers they choose they can also give glory to God in it. This attaches a significant value, or meaning, to all of life's activities. It is no longer neutral. If God is interested in all of life then a Christian education requires a biblical point of view through the whole curriculum. Merely adding a few courses in religion, or a Bible study or chapel services, does not make a school Christian.
Is This the Real World?
Do Christian schools remove children from the real world?
Some parents feel Christian schools place children in an artificial hothouse. They claim children are not well prepared to live in a society where most people are non-Christian.
The Bible says of Jesus…
For by Him all things were created, things in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17
We believe life is not an accident or coincidence. As Christians we understand we are created in God's image. Any education system which ignores God and Jesus also denies the Bible's claims of reality. In its place another view of reality is presented.
Christian parents partnering with Christian teachers can help children discover and understand the truth about the world around them. Rather than removing children from the real world Christian schools help them see it clearly.
Secular education believes history and the world around us can be understood without reference to God or the Bible. By leaving these out curriculums don't become neutral but essentially anti-God.
Families are the first place children learn about the world around them. Schools then help children understand more about the world. In the early years families and schools can be likened to providing a hothouse environment for children. Consider the purpose of a hothouse or glass house. It is to nurture plants while they are young. A hothouse provides an environment where the conditions, watering and nutrition can be better managed. The hothouse is designed to grow healthier plants faster. When removed from the hothouse these plants are better able to thrive in all environments.
Do we believe this is God's world? If so a supportive hothouse environment where God and Jesus Christ are seen as relevant to daily life can help prepare a child for the realities of life.
We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church. Ephesians 4:15
Counting the Cost
Why pay for education?
Education for every child is a modern concept. We now think of it as a right. Yet the provision and funding of education is debated around the world.
The models of funding have changed many times over the last 150 years. Historically, education for most was provided by parents. At times it has depended more on churches. More recently it has been considered a government responsibility.
However God has given to parents the primary responsibility for the nurture and care of their children. This responsibility has not changed over time. It has also not been delegated to government, the church or even teachers.
If we do believe parents have responsibilities for raising children then parents also need to have choices. They should have options of where and what their children will be taught. Christian schools give parents a choice.
Some Christians question paying school fees when they are paying taxes to fund government schools. Christian schools may even be accused of undermining the government education system and duplicating facilities. The Bible takes a different view:
Where your treasure is there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34
Jesus saw it as a natural response to give to what we believe is important. What we are willing to allocate treasure, or finances, towards demonstrates where our hearts are. If providing an education which reflects a parent's beliefs and supports their role is considered important then they will work out ways to make it a priority.
Parents do need to carefully consider the financial cost of education if they choose a Christian school. It will come down to setting priorities. The apostle Paul taught…
Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible - but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23
Paul faced choices. He felt some decisions were better than others. As a parent you face the choice of 'which school should I send my child to?' In our society children will learn the basics of education whichever school they attend. However not all they learn may be beneficial or constructive.
We can be thankful we do have a choice. Like all choices we make, it is one for which we will be accountable to God. Our choices can have short-term, long-term and eternal consequences.
The above information was prepared and graciously shared by Covenant Christian School in Sydney, Australia. They also have prepared a pamphlet (found HERE) that goes into a bit more detail. It has been a great resource of Christian families.