Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
There is no fool-proof way to train children, but guidance from the Bible can’t be beat. Often we debate the details, but the purpose of this writing is to discuss the problems parents have in adhering to biblical instructions. Let’s be clear, training children is a biblical mandate. Trying to change public schools to improve them is much like trying to train a wolfpack to change the character of the wolves so the wolfpack can then guard a flock of sheep to protect them from predators. I won’t bother to relate any of the dozens of horror stories concerning public schools, but suffice to say, all arguments to defend public schools as a acceptable place for children from Christian families were discredited long ago.
We’ve Always Done it This Way – Leaning Toward a Paycheck
In broad terms there are two main obstacles: (1) traditions in the Church, and (2) traditions in schooling five days a week ( i.e. government run schools). There is a description that often follows both of types of traditions; We’ve always done it this way. How pitiful, if I must say so.
Let me be blunt about one tradition of the church. Congregations, their meeting houses that are vacant most of the week, and the programs exist to give one man a full-time paying job! If a man’s paycheck stands between him and his being a strong advocate for Christian schooling five or more days a week, the man in most cases, will lean toward his paycheck. If a man, on the one hand, preaches a message of salvation via the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for one to three hours weekly, and then, on the other hand he thinks it is appropriate for children in the congregation he pastors, to attend for 30 hours/week, a school run by the government, then that man is, at the very least, being deceived. It’s worse, if he does this for the sole reason to protect his paycheck. (love of money?)
Now, if you are not happy with this description of Church in the United States of America, do an Internet search for places where the Church is growing most rapidly in the world, and learn a few things about where they meet, who does the teaching/ministering, and what the pay scale is like.
Most of us have lived our lifetime under the influence of these two traditions, which are in fact, very closely related. We grew up knowing church was a place you go on Sunday, and perhaps again another day of the week. We grew up knowing school was a place you go for 12 or more years for about nine months each year for a period of six hours or so, each day. The way the two are related is this, we have public (government) schools because Church congregations prefer a nice place to meet on Sunday as opposed to the difficult task of providing Christian schooling. Think I overstated this? Whose training is more important, yours or the young children in the congregation? The pastor, likewise understands his paycheck comes easier without a Christian school, either a school his congregation sponsors, or the financial assistance that they can give to others who sponsor such training. The more I think about it, the idea of full-time ministry (code for being paid for a job as CEO of a congregation, not ministry) is a detriment to actual ministry, especially to children. You see, the position as pastor usually dictates that the man make decisions that protect his JOB (satisfy adult pew-sitters who carry wallets with money and/or credit cards), and MINISTRY to children five days a week is sacrificed at the alter of this ONE MAN’S JOB. Be honest, have you ever thought of church, pastor, and schooling for young children in this manner?
Several years ago I saw a quote that is one of my favorite quotes of all time. It came from a father of homeschooled children, Bruce Shortt. He said something like this, “If your pastor does not promote Christian schooling, then why is he still your pastor?” Sadly, Jesus will likely return before there is widespread promotion of Christian schooling by pastors across the United States of America. In other words, don’t wait until pastors think it is a biblical mandate before you become a hard-core believer in Christian schooling.
Here is something to wrap your brain around. Can you drop the paradigm of thinking of church and school as two separate entities, and instead think of church and school as a single entity? Let’s look at it another way. What is the purpose in life for Christians? Many would say one purpose is to “go and make disciples.” As parents, part of the responsibility to do this would come under “train up a child.” Can we not focus on the fact that schooling (in Christian principles) for our children should come from guidance by followers of Jesus Christ rather than employees of Caesar? So then, why would any Christian think our children should spend more time in the domain of Caesar than in a place where the child is literally bathed in the Christian worldview all day long? Is it not high time we broke the bondage of compartmentalizing church into one place in our brain and school into another? Hold another thought in your mind as you read the Scripture below: Biblical Mandate!
4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:4-9) HCSB
National Christian Ministries – Follow the Money Again
I find it disturbing that most high profile Christian ministries never touch the subject of Christian versus government run schooling, but boy do they ever wear you out talking about all the bad things politicians do. Well, sadly, most politicians do what we usually expect, tell us what we want to hear, then play games to deceive us, and in the process do the opposite of what they said they would do. Just like a leopard, politicians cannot get rid of their spots. National Christian ministries, on the other hand don’t lie to us, they just avoid topics that might adversely affect their income, i.e. promote the idea that parents should take their kids out of public schools and train them according to mandates from the Bible. This problem is not limited to a just a few, but here are examples of three such big national Christian ministries, American Family Association, Focus on the Family, and Concerned Women for America. Note that two of the three have “family” in the name, and the third has “women” in the name. All three should surely be interested in God’s mandate to train children. If you go to their respective websites and find information promoting Christian schooling, let me know. They spend a lot of time telling us how important it is to vote and select politicians who will make those nasty public schools straighten up and quit persecuting Christians with all the sexual perverted teachings, rejection of the name of Jesus, and on and on and on.
Who Are the Advocates for Christian Schooling?
It goes without saying that Christian parents who homeschool or send their children to a Christian school are strong believers because many of them sacrifice much to meet this desire. However, let me point out some important facts on this topic. Mothers are the usual teachers of homeschooled children. It is a full time job and they don’t have time to try to convince others to homeschool. They firmly believe they are doing the right thing, but have no real incentive to write articles, participate in protests or do anything to wave the banner promoting the idea that others should homeschool.
There are very few who loudly proclaim the need for Christian schooling, and those who do are usually those who have already raised their own children, former educators, and some who still have children at home. Exodus Mandate is an organization that is active at encouraging parents to move their children out of the public schools. In addition to the national headquarters, there are several people who serve as state directors who are helpful with this movement. There is a wealth information for those who have already made the decision to homeschool. Internet searches can reveal much about such available information. There are, no doubt, thousands of Christians who would like to have their children in a Christian school, but limited finances hinders their ability to enroll their children in such schools.
Homeschooling is the best option for children since the parents of those children have more direct interest in the welfare of each of their own family members. But not everyone has a desire to tackle such a task, and it usually requires that one parent stay home to teach the children while the other parent works. In today’s economy, most families find it necessary to have two incomes to support them. While Christian schooling is what many would consider the second best option, the cost can be prohibitive for some. I have seen cost figures in excess of $14,000 per high school student to attend a church sponsored school. So the real dilemma for most Christian parents is how to pay for Christian schooling and/or homeschooling. It should be obvious that pastors who will not promote Christian schooling are certainly not going to pay for it either, and yet Christians via the congregations are the most obvious ones to help young families in “training up children in the way they should go”
Take a Positive Outlook to the Future
Since homeschooling has grown so rapidly in the past 10-20 years it is a positive sign. I personally believe this rapid growth (62% ) in the past 10 years, will serve as an encouragement for more families to make a determined effort to homeschool their children with or without encouragement from their church congregation/pastor. Personally, my wife and I withheld money we would have otherwise given in the congregational collection plate, and used it to help pay for our youngest child to attend a Christian school. I have been around enough pastors to know that many of them would call that “robbing God” to use money to pay for a Christian education rather than drop it in the coffers of the congregation, so the pastor and perhaps some elders could decide how to use the money. Incidentally, it took some explaining on my part to convince my wife that using money to train our child was just as legitimate as giving to some congregation as a way to give to God, especially since our congregation was not in any way a sponsor of Christian schooling.
When do we rob God, and when do we give to God? Suppose you hold a checkbook in your hand and contemplate writing out a check. You can chose to make it out to your church which does not support Christian schools, or you can write out the check to a local Christian school where your child attends. Do you give to God when the church gets your check, but rob God if you instead pay for your child’s tuition at the Christian school? This seems an appropriate time to show another Bible verse, one where Jesus speaks to the Scribes and Pharisees.
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. (Matt. 23:24)
The Elephant in the Middle of the Sanctuary Why Pastors Ignore the Dangers of Public Schools – 5 part Series