Why Christian Education?
He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
- Matthew 12:30
"I would advise no one to send his child where the Holy Scriptures are not supreme."
- Martin Luther
Whether you have been committed to Christian education for years or whether you are just now exploring the possibilities, consider the following from this perspective: How can Christian parents best fulfill their obligation to train and nurture their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-8)?
Misconceptions about Christian Education
Christian school is not a place where a few ornaments like prayer, chapel, and Bible classes merely complement an otherwise secular education. Here at Wooster Christian School, we seek to integrate God's Word into every facet of our curriculum as well as all co-curricular activities. As the Puritan theologian Charles Bridges wrote in his commentary, Proverbs, "The religious training must not be the border of the garment, which might easily be cut off. It must be the pervading substance throughout."
Second, the phrase "Christian education" should encompass more than the study of religion. Many think Christian education takes place only in Sunday school, during Bible studies, or at home during family devotions, but this view is too limited. The Apostle Paul exhorts us to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). True Christian education relates God's Word to every aspect of life.
Third, a Christian school is not a "safe house" from the world. Many well-meaning parents think that the Christian school offers protection from the evils of the world. A Christian school is not a guarantee against sin. The difference, however, is that the Christian school disciplines by teaching students about God's demands and His forgiveness, grace, and mercy.
Finally, the Christian school is not a reform school for families who have exhausted other options to solve their problems. The Christian school should be their first choice, a place where Christian families, the church, and the Christian school can prepare students for effective lives of service in God's kingdom.
Common objections to Christian education include:
"We want our children to be in the 'real' world." - What is the "real" world for Christians? Is it a world informed by secularism, or one dominated by the love, reconciliation, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ?
"We don't want to abandon the public schools. We want our children to be a witness there." - Should the youngest members of God's kingdom be on the front lines, or is it wiser to prepare them much like we would care for young plants in the garden?
"We would like to have our children in a Christian school, but we can't afford it." - What better stewardship of personal and church finances than to use them for the education of children? "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)
"The Christian school is hypocritical." - Christian schools do not claim to be perfect or without their share of sinners any more than churches do. The difference with the Christian school is the way in which it deals with the sin, how it models restitution and accountability, and how it encourages repentance and restoration.
The Necessity of Christian Education
We are living in what some have labeled a "Post-Christian Age." In his book, Against the Night, Charles Colson describes our "barbaric and decadent" times as "The New Dark Ages." Waging an all-out attack in order to win people's hearts and minds, secular forces are succeeding on many fronts, including education.
How should Christian families respond? Clearly, we should never despair, for the Bible teaches that, "the earth is the Lord's" (Psalm 24:1), that God's Word will "not return...empty" (Isaiah 55:11), and that the "gates of Hell will not overcome" His church (Matthew 16:18). God's purposes and plans cannot be thwarted.
We can do more than just hope and pray - this is the role of Christian education. We in Christian education do not want to destroy public schools. Their efforts involve Christian students, teachers, and administrators, and we need to support them. However, an educational philosophy that does not explicitly declare Christ as Lord, that does not integrate God's Word into every action, that does not acknowledge God as the source of all truth, can only, in the words of Jesus Christ, "scatter."
The Bible clearly states that the unregenerate mind cannot please God because it places man at the center, assumes that human beings are basically good, actively suppresses the truth about God, and denies the supernatural realities of heaven and hell. The regenerate mind, from which Christian education flows, affirms the opposite: God is the Creator and Ruler of this universe; human beings, sinners from birth, are in need of redemption; all truth is God's truth; and, man is not dependent of human reason alone.
The question, therefore, is this: does a secular education enable a student to think biblically about the world? Consider the reasoning of Charles Bridges: "To expand, without soundly enlightening the mind, is but to increase its power for evil. Far better to consign it to total ignorance, inasmuch as the unstructured savage is less responsible, less dangerous, than the well-furnished infidel." Similarly, John Calvin believed that "a knowledge of all the sciences is mere smoke where the heavenly science of Christ is wanting."
Christian Education at Wooster Christian School
We aim to provide a quality education that glorifies Jesus Christ and prepares students for lives of faithful and obedient service to Him. The Bible is an integrative force, and our administrator, faculty, and staff personally know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
We aren't simply learning about math, science, and history; we are learning about God's world. He created the world; He holds it together; He rules it, and we have an obligation to learn all that we can about it. Studying God's world from the perspective of His Word - the Bible - is critical. We can understand life only as we view it through the lens of the scriptures. As students study God's world from the perspective of the Word, it will enable them to do God's service.
Parents have commented on several positive differences they have seen in our student body when compared to other schools. We attribute these characteristics to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our classrooms. Here are a few things people have observed:
Fewer disciplinary issues: When our students are taught what God-honoring behavior looks like, and these principles are reinforced in their school, home, and church, they are more likely to behave in ways that support a better learning environment. Although none of our students are perfect and conflicts do occasionally arise, many have observed how well-mannered and respectful our student body is.
More time spent on task: When students are misbehaving, or when class sizes become too large, the actual time spent on academics can be minimized significantly. We strive to maximize time spent on task by reducing distractions and maintaining low student to teacher ratios.
Preservation of Innocence: Parents have commented that, due to the unique peer culture at WCS and our methods of handling sensitive topics, their children are not exposed to negative language and behaviors as early as they might have been in another environment.
Readiness to serve: Various aspects of our programming, from our Bible curriculum to our Cognitive Enhancing Music Education, help prepare students to be proactive in their churches and bold about their faith.
Academic Excellence: Time and time again, our students score well above average on standardized testing and in interscholastic academic competitions. We encourage a high level of parental involvement in all aspects of our school, which is just one of many factors that contribute to their retention of knowledge.
Portions of this article were adapted from the "Why a Christian School?" brochure published by the GCCAA (Greater Cleveland Christian Administrators Association).