What is Christian education? What is it supposed to look like in today’s world?
Parts of an answer to these questions are starting to take shape in my head – having small children in the house makes it hard to do serious reflection since I am generally too tired to think straight … but here are some ideas.
What is Christian education for the 21st century supposed to look like? How is it going to prepare our younger generation to be like Joseph and Daniel, i.e. young people who choose to honor God no matter what the popular worldview or societal pressures may be?
I find it fascinating that Scripture tells us clearly that it is God who equips Joseph and Daniel for their jobs, and it is God who gives them favor with other people. This is a common theme throughout Scripture. God’s people accomplish great things because God goes ahead of them and He equips them. I think a Christian school needs to be a place where it is emphasized that God equips us with the knowledge, understanding, and skills we need to be successful in our academic and non-academic pursuits. This emphasis has to be intentional, and the school community needs to be reminded of it regularly.
It worries me that we sometimes over-emphasize achievement in our schools. Please understand me correctly: I think it is important to recognize achievement, but let’s recognize achievement for its encouragement value to the community instead of glorifying individuals. I think excellence is a God-given mandate since we are supposed to do everything for the glory of God. Let’s make more of an effort to thank God for enabling us to achieve.
There is a danger of becoming so ‘busy’ with doing school that we don’t make time to thank God as a community for His blessing in both our successes and failures. Does your school have a praying culture? Are you sure? There has to be time in the schedule every day and every week to be still and give Him the glory He deserves.
Another danger of unwarranted ‘busyness’ is that we may be robbing our students and teachers of discipleship opportunities when programs are so busy that there is ‘no time’ for discipleship.
I am convinced that if we choose to have a God-centered approach to the amount of activities we allow in our schools, we will be amazed ‘how much’ we will be able to accomplish. Unfortunately answering the question “How much is too much” is complicated and hotly debated. May the Lord give us the grace to respond to His voice when we have this conversation.
I have been part of Christian schooling for more than a decade. As I reflect on what I have been privileged to see and experience, I think the biggest challenge for Christian education is to be truly God-centered as opposed to only making God ‘an important’ component of what we do. Let me explain.
By the grace of God, Christian schools are often able to provide students with a positive learning experience. The world recognizes that, and as a consequence the Christian school movement has experienced rapid growth internationally. There is a challenge that comes with this recognition and growth: how do we respond to the ‘demands’ that our constituents make on us? Are we going adopt an attitude of ‘pleasing’ our ‘paying customers’, possibly compromising our integrity, or are we willing to stand firm in our resolve to stay God-centered?
I think it is easier to answer “yes” to this question than actually follow-through on it. Why? Because it means we have to be willing to trust God to sustain us financially despite possibly having to make a decision that drive some of our ‘paying customers’ away. Are we willing to ‘pay this price’ in our effort to stay God-centered and trust the Lord to provide?
We have to keep in mind that the moment we start compromising, we remove God from the center of all we do and relegate Him to a certain part of our lives / school.
My comments are in no way directed towards a specific school or individuals. If you are upset by what you read, I am really sorry. It definitely was not my intention. I am only trying to make sense of what a 21st century Christian school looks like. It has important implications for our pedagogy as well as our approach to the integration of technology.
I really need you (the reader) to participate in this conversation. Please add a Comment below.
To lifelong learning!