And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
I know this is the sort of title that seems like provocative click bait. It is the type of statement that some emergent church guy would say regarding the exclusivity of Christianity. That’s not what I mean though. I want to briefly explore the different schooling choices parents make.
Before I had kids I had a lot of cemented convictions regarding the best way to disciple them and educate them (call me crazy, but I’m convinced all education is discipleship). God has since humbled me, as expected, and I’ve come to loosen up on my theories about discipling kids. The cement is now wet, so to speak. I used to have 100 rules for discipling kids but no kids. Now I’ve got 2 kids and no hard and fast rules.
One of those rules I had prior to becoming a father was a conviction that home-schooling was the only sensible choice for Christians who took their faith seriously. I then had a kid and taught at a classical academy for a year and decided that was an option worth considering. Now as a pastor overseeing youth ministry I see that public schools offer much more opportunity for mission than the other schooling options. All this to say: I see valid reasons for considering and reconsidering school options for children in Christian homes.
Every now and then I’m asked what my preference for schooling is. At this point I’m less interested in the destination than I am in the journey taken to arrive there.
There are pros and cons to every option.
In a public school setting your children will be exposed to many things you disagree with. You will have the least amount of control over what they are exposed to. Yet, on a positive note they will be challenged by others from different worldviews and forced to deepen their convictions and beliefs (insofar as you can steer them Christ-ward and that Jesus gets ahold of them). This ups the ante of responsibility for parents to disciple their children and steep them in biblical truth. It also carries with it some of the greatest potential for missional engagement with a lost world Jesus is seeking to save.
In a home school environment you have the most amount of control over what your children are exposed to. This is good in that you can limit their exposure to sin and suffering. However, we must remember that all of humankind is affected by sin. We may be able to limit our children’s exposure to the sins of others, but we cannot save them from the sin that indwells their own hearts. At some point it will rear its ugly head, so we must be wary of the temptation to equate homeschooling with salvation. Additionally, we must allow our leash to grow in length as our children grow in age and maturity. Otherwise, we risk being overprotective and the possibility that our children will reject us, or even worse the gospel.
Every Other School?
Other options exist in between these two extremes. Christian school, classical education, boarding school, private secular school, Montessori school, vocational school, and any number of hybrids in between. Again we must be reminded that none of these options is perfect. All human institutions suffer under the weight of human sin. None of these options offer salvation, only Jesus can save us from our own sin. Some may do a better job of working biblical teaching and truth into their curriculum, but this doesn’t relieve parents of responsibility to disciple their kids on their own time. While he will use human means to renew our minds through education there is no one-size-fits all fix to our problems. Education is not salvation.
We should prayerfully, frequently, and cautiously consider (and reconsider) the education choices for our children. This means knowing the hearts and minds of our children and what best meets their needs in the here and now. Sometimes this might even mean changing schools or methods at different stages. All of this is worth evaluating and reevaluating. Journey with your children through the options available and choose a destination that will best serve them. There is no prescription in Scripture for the “biblical” means of education. There is, however, much written on the role parents are to play in the life of their children (Deut. 6:4-9; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:24).
I’m more interested in listening to the unique situations and struggles of individual kids and their families and hearing how they navigated these criteria in selecting a school than I am in the school that was selected. So to that end, if you have school-aged children, chime in down in the comments, what did you decide? Why?
[Photo via Visual Hunt]