Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Elephant in the Middle of the Sanctuary – Why Pastors Ignore the Dangers of Public Schools – Part 3

Truth Versus Tradition.

When I was about 13-14 years of age two of my cousins and I went spelunking in a cave located on a neighbor’s farm. A distinctive cliff, or rough rock wall can be found about one mile deep into the cave. It is was our first trip into that part of the cave, and we had heard that going deeper into the cave would involve crawling on hands and knees a bit after climbing the wall. Not desiring that challenge, we turned back at the wall to exit the cave. I led the way back, but soon found that we were walking in mud. Walking out in mud is one thing; noticing that there were no incoming tracks was something else. We were on the wrong path, and LOST.

Almost immediately we decided to sit down, turn off our flashlights, and talk about our situation. While sitting in the pitch-black environment we concluded that we should try to re-trace our steps back to the rock wall, and then proceed slowly back out looking for signs written on the walls and any other clues that might take us on the correct path to get out of the cave. It worked.

Following the steps of others can be a tricky. If the path is correct, fine. On the other hand when we blindly follow others we run the risk of going down a long, long road, in the wrong direction. The study of Church history can be very important once we realize we have chosen one or more wrong paths. Since our culture, including our church-reared children has moved so far from Christianity, it is imperative that we re-trace some steps to some “cliff-like wall” from which we can make a new beginning. Where would that be? The Bible is an obvious quick answer.

Most of us tend to look at the good ole days as if things were near perfect as we remember the past. Many have emphasized that we began to have some real problems in public schools once prayer was taken out, the 10 commandments removed, plus other actions that were apparently meant to scrub God from the schoolhouse. However, an honest analysis of these changes would reveal that these things were merely symptoms, not the disease, and things would likely get worse in the future. We can twist and tweak all we want, but it is impossible to blame anyone other than ourselves, those of us who claim to be Christians.

There are a lot of places in the past that we can point to and say the government did this, or Christians didn’t do that, and therefore we now find ourselves in this mess of seeing that most high school graduates are academically ignorant and biblically ignorant. I have talked to several people who are advocates for removing children from public schools and placing them in private Christian schools, or better yet, homeschooling. I agree with these people when they point out that children of Christian parents should never have been placed at the feet of Caesar’s system in the first place. (Well over 100 years ago). Traditions can be difficult to break. I grew up believing that church and school were two separate entities in my life and my community. They still are separate entities for most people, but I am adamantly against that thinking now. How can we take the Scripture that says “train up a child in the way he should go, ” and then split the child’s time between parents and Caesar, with Caesar getting more waking hours per day “to train up a child to believe that Caesar is god?” Seriously, who can believe the Body of Christ would deliberately select this method to train “the least of these” in our midst if we had a choice to do otherwise? In the final analysis, money tends to be the main limiting factor for Christian training, but I do not wish to take time and space to address that problem here.

Back to the lost boys in a cave: We got lost because we were walking too rapidly and had our lights focused immediately in front of our path on the cave floor. When we retreated and started out the second time, we walked slowly, were very deliberate, shining our lights up and down, all around, and on occasion we saw handwriting on the wall placed there by previous adventurers.

Christians often live their lives like inexperienced boys in a cave, constantly keeping a focus on what is directly at our feet. It may be ballet lessons, soccer practice, the men’s meeting, the ladies meeting, the golf outing, the haircut, the paycheck that’s too small, the shopping, etc. Roger Miller had a song many years ago with the title, “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd,” that may appropriately describe the busy lives we have, and the challenge to live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It can be very difficult to hold firm to biblical principles and properly discern all that is happening in the world, while trying to “roller skate in a buffalo herd,” so to speak. If we don’t slow down and take time to read the handwriting on the wall, we may very well fail to see what our children are being taught.

For just a moment, stop and forget the cost of Christian schooling. Forget that your local Christian school is not what you would have it to be. Forget about the long held tradition of training children in public schools. Forget about the sports program at the local public school. Forget about the fact that your child has a great Christian teacher in a public school. Forget about the fact that the Church has given power, authority, the lead role and responsibility to the government for training our young children. And lastly, forget about the fact that your pastor may not be a strong advocate for Christian schooling. Remove those factors from your thoughts for a moment.

Don’t wait until you, your family, friends and neighbors are sitting in a pitch-black environment trying to develop a strategy for finding the Light. Return to the Rock. Travel slowly, looking up and down, and all around. Pledge to become like the sons of Issachar “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” 1 Chronicles 12:32 (HCSB). And then … follow Truth.

Dennis Rowan

Related articles:
Elephant in the Sanctuary – Part 1
Elephant in the Sanctuary – Part 2
Dollars, Discipleship and Disaster
Is in the Church Nullifying the Word of God for the Sake of Tradition?

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The Elephant in the Middle of the Sanctuary Why Pastors Ignore the Dangers of Public Schools – Part 2

What will Christians Do About the 20:80 Ratio?
There may be someone living in a cave in the Middle East, or perhaps one of the many caves here in my state of West Virginia, who does not know that public schools in America have been in decline for decades. Pick about any subject worth studying and you will find that recent high school graduates will be embarrassingly ignorant about it. It has been getting steadily worse for about 50 years, and therefore, hardly anyone denies it anymore. Do you know what group of professionals has the highest percentage of their children who go to private schools? Public school teachers! That’s correct; they apparently know something about how bad the schools are where they work. So, even the people in the system have trouble justifying public schools. Other than the Devil, who else supports public schools? It doesn’t matter who they are as long as they agree with the Devil.

Test scores of American public school graduates are an embarrassment, at least for those of us who can read the reports that compare the USA to the rest of the world. Here is an interesting survey question for parents with school-aged children. If you could bail out, take you children out of the public schools, and put them in a private Christian school without any additional cost, would you take the deal? Okay, you get the point.

For Christians, there are other problems; in addition to all the academic shortfalls, public schools on a scale of 1-100 will probably rate about “3” for being friendly to Christians. More than 20 years ago I started keeping a file about all the anti-Christian stuff that was happening in public schools. In less than a year I quit doing that because there was such a volume of bad reports. And, that was about the time when my wife and I removed our youngest son from public schools and enrolled him in a Christian school.

So public schools are totally bankrupt, especially when we consider the animosity toward Christianity. What are Christian parents to do? Here is what you can do; ask your pastor to take money from the offerings that come into the church each week and distribute about half of it among families with school-aged children. It will help the family budget for those stay-at-home moms who homeschool. It will also help other parents pay for tuition at the nearest Christian school. Okay, okay, I have revealed myself as a smarty pants because we both know your pastor would dismiss you as one of the following, misguided, crazy, or a misguided crazy.

If low test scores and anti-Christian propaganda were not enough for parents to be concerned about, the fact that so many high school students leave Christianity while in their college years, is very disturbing. In fact a whopping 80 percent leave!

Suppose you ordered products on-line from a company that failed to get the product to you 80 percent of the time. Would you take your car to a mechanic who only had a 20 percent success rate? Would you buy the same brand of milk week after week if only one in five gallons were fit to drink? Would you recommend that a pregnant member of your family go to a physician if 80 percent of the babies he delivered did not survive the birthing process?

So, here is the serious point, an elephant is standing in the middle of the church sanctuary and it seems there are few who are willing to accept the fact. They look the other way. What fact you ask? Public schools are an insidious danger to all the young developing, vulnerable minds of students attending. The most critical danger comes from all the brainwashing propaganda that is contrary to Christian principles. This happens while your pastor (if he fits the average) is ignoring the entire sinister scenario, and apparently many sitting in the pews also ignore the situation.

Parents, above all other people, are responsible for the training their children receive. However, Christianity is unique because whether it is right or wrong, there is an unusual amount of trust that parents have in their pastor. I would argue, too much trust. In fact, I am in complete agreement with Bruce Shortt, author of “The Harsh Truth About Public Schools” and author of a newsletter about public schools called “The Continuing Collapse.” At the end of each newsletter Shortt asks this question,

If you aren’t hearing about at least some of these government school problems from your pastor, why is he your pastor?

 

Anyway, as a pastor leads, so goes the congregation. The pastor, as most church congregations across our nation recognize, is the leader or authority figure in the church with the responsibility to guide others. Very few pastors support Christian schools. Fortunately, some families make the sacrifices necessary to homeschool or place their children in private Christian schools despite the lack of any direct support by their own pastor.

Regardless of who has major responsibility to train children in Christian families, can we not agree that a 20 percent success rate is deplorable? Is a 20 percent success rate for discipleship the best we can do with those raised in the church? Will we make a concerted effort to replace public schooling with Christian instruction five days a week, or will we just continue to pretend there is no elephant standing in the middle of the sanctuary?

Dennis Rowan

Related articles:
Elephant in the Sanctuary – Part 1
Dollars, Discipleship and Disaster
Is in the Church Nullifying the Word of God for the Sake of Tradition?

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The Elephant in the Middle of the Sanctuary – Why Pastors Ignore the Dangers of Public Schools – Part 1

Introduction – If we are to make serious improvement on the impact the Church is having on children, and thus the culture, then one first step is to try to understand why on average pastors have such a low level of support for Christian schooling. The following is an outline showing many factors that may help us understand why so few pastors support Christian schools and/or promote homeschooling.

Outline
1. Pastors and parents fail to understand the Bible’s mandate to train children in all aspects of life. There is a mental disconnect between the needs of the child all week long and what “Christian training” the church provides for 2-3 hours weekly –TRADITION
2. Evangelism emphasis rather than discipleship – It’s the “come-into-the-church” rather than “go-into-the-world” mentality. –TRADITION
3. Pastor measures alter call success– decisions for Christ is a common indicator pastors use to measure success. Honorable, and easier to obtain via an emotional appeal compared to spending many years to “train up a child”
4. Pastor measures success by church growth (attendance). This is not a measure of how well children are trained, but it is highly correlated to church income. $$$$
5. Ministry support money comes from adults not youth, therefore recruiting adults for Sunday church service is more important than training children $$$$
6. Seeker-friendly churches by design bring unsaved people to services, but people who don’t see the need of a Savoir will not see the need of Christian training for their children. Thus Christian schooling becomes a hard sell.
7. Clergy/Laity distinction – a non-biblical belief that only professional trained ministers decide what is important for a local congregation. This atmosphere encourages people to follow rather than lead, and this puts excessive confidence in the leadership of the pastor. – TRADITION
8. Centrality of the Pastor – People follow the vision of this man, so if this man has no vision for Christian school emphasis then there is no school –TRADITION
9. Centrality of the meeting place – Christianity for many people is centered around a worship service Sunday a.m. in a church building. Such focus tends to pigeon-hole Christianity to a specific time and place, plus it relegates children into some other dimension like public school Monday through Friday –TRADITION
10. Worship service (not mentioned in Bible) often appeals to felt needs of adults (trouble with job, finances, health, personal relationships) rather than known needs of children (accept & follow Jesus Christ). This may also put the centrality of Christ secondary to “felt needs” of man.
11. Co-dependency of pastor and congregation. Pastor does the work, gets paid and the people’s payment helps relieve them of responsibility to study and teach at home. In return the people also get their “Sunday Christian fix,” which may include entertainment, baby-sitting services and a great (or mediocre) sermon. This relationship between the adult pew-sitters and the pulpiteer is usually comfortable and potentially dangerous for both parties. This co-dependency/comfort zone can easily lead to neglect of “the least of these” to whom both parties are charged to train.
12. Flawed idea that public schools can be changed by adult Christians (teachers, staff, & school board members) – honorable idea, but has been a dismal failure if we analyze data for the past 50 years. These schools can be changed, but not under the current management.
13. Flawed premise that young Christian children should be in public schools as salt and light … dream on; boot camp comes first. Besides we know that about 80 percent of high school students who professed Christ then reject Christianity within 2-4 years after leaving home.
14. Christians wrongly believe their local school is okay – yeah, right! –TRADITION
15. Christians, including Pastors have a naïve worldview – For example they don’t realize that there is a strong socialist/Marxist influence in America’s public schools.
16. Cost of Christian school – lack of faith that God will guide the pastor and provide the money. I say it is an excuse for their lack of commitment. $$$$
17. Pastors believe Christian schooling is a family responsibility
18. Pastor’s efforts go toward building a personal ministry $$$$
19. Mobile society: children grow up & move to new geographic areas – church gets no financial gain from the training that the church provides $$$$
20. Pastor fears offending public school parents & teachers – loss of income $$$$
21. No instant results by training youth for 12 years or more – a special event such as a men’s retreat can have instant results
22. Pride of achievement – material world of property and buildings is more visible presence in community to attract new adults as in 25 acres and 17 buildings versus sending thirty 18-year olds out as missionaries $$$$
23. Tradition of giving tithes and offerings to God translates into giving to the “storehouse, the Church” but not a Christian school. Amazing, spreading the gospel happens in a church sanctuary, but not in a home or classroom –TRADITION & $$$$
24. Hard work – Christian school much greater challenge than church without school – new innovative church programs easier to start and stop than school
25. Pastor risks loosing control dealing with parents of school children – once-a-week participants easier to deal with, guide, control, manipulate (choose one). In other words you can mess with the Sunday service, but don’t mess with my kid
26. Pastors follow the Money. Example: Pastors called to a new church usually means called to a place that pays more money. Money is a common thread running through many of the factors listed here. –$$$$
27. Pastors are territorial. There is a lack of unity among pastors and/or congregations; other congregations seldom give financial support to churches with schools. –TRADITION & $$$$
28. Lack of leadership by seminaries – they seem detached from the issue of training children. –TRADITION
29. Pastors fail to see children in the church as a mission field.
30. Pastors lack vision of children becoming missionaries.
31. Ignorant of historical facts showing public schools were started by atheists more than 150 years ago – before that children trained at home and at Christian schools
32. Paid clergy – It is likely that pastors never loose sight of the fact that their own personal income is tied to those activities that increase the dollars flowing into the church.

Opinions of Others
I sent the following e-mail to seven people who I thought to be like-minded with regard to the need for Christian schooling and the apparent lack of support from pastors.
I am collecting some information. Could you write down and send me 2, 3, or more reasons why you think pastors do not support/promote homeschooling and/or Christian schools? Thanks.
Six people responded immediately. A description of those people is as follows: all were Christians, At least five are published authors, at least five are married with children, at least three have homeschooled, at least two have taught in public schools, at least one has taught in a Christian school, and at least one has seminary training. I have only met three of them face-to-face, and only one on multiple occasions.
All who responded wrote down three or more reasons why they think pastors do not support/promote Christian schooling.

Below is a summary of their thoughts
• The clearest answer was this one: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
• The most common opinion: many people in the congregations are employed by the public school system, the fear of offending and loosing finances
• Ignorance ranked high – some pastors are clueless as to the conditions in public schools. Some have never studied the issue looking for viable ways a church congregation can support homeschooling and/or a Christian school.
• Lack of a biblical worldview also ranked high
• Have not had seminary training about k-12 education
• Brain-washed
• Cowardly/lack of courage
• False shepherds
• Pastor doesn’t want to tell people what type education their children should have.
• Public school educated are intimidated by homeschoolers, but not intentionally
• Too much work/training children not a high priority
• They see supporting public schools as a way to appear caring in the community
• Poor emphasis on discipleship

Conclusion based on Their Opinions Plus Mine
Fear (lack of faith) is probably the single most underlying factor.
• They fear they will offend those associated with public schools
• They fear they will loose financial support

It appears that the Gospel then becomes a numbers game. Does the people group in largest numbers control the pastor’s choices? Should more un-saved people show up some day, will it change his message? If more Muslims than Christians showed up in the church, would the pastor still use his Bible? … just asking.

Dennis Rowan

Related articles:
Dollars, Discipleship and Disaster
Is in the Church Nullifying the Word of God for the Sake of Tradition?

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