Christian education: built on Scripture and service

Today, as in any other time of history, parents and educators echo David’s question in Psalm 119, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” David’s answer to his own question is quite clear, “by taking heed thereto according to thy word”.

The Foundation of Scripture

The only way our children can do what God’s Word says, is if they memorise and read God’s Word. David says later in the Psalm, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”. I want to encourage you to help your children make time to read God’s Word. Perhaps you can decide on some family memory verses too and start memorising these verses over the holiday. You may be pleasantly surprised to see what difference it will make to your home.

There are other reasons to read and memorise God’s Word. The Word helps us to answer those who want to know why we follow Jesus by helping us have confidence in God’s agape love and His plan for our salvation (Ps 119:41-42). It helps us make decisions by making the options clearer to us (Psalm 119:105). It gives us hope and security when we are tempted to be afraid (Psalm 119:114). God’s Word is worth reading, especially since the historicity, authenticity, and reliability of the Scriptures are undeniable and can be easily verified. There are many scholars that have written on this topic and one that comes to mind is “The New Testament Books: Are They Reliable?” by F. F. Bruce.

Tyndale Park Christian School’s mission is “to assist parents by providing a Christ-centred education that encourages academic excellence and Christian service to the glory of God”. Our curriculum is built on a Scriptural foundation and we will continue to refine and improve it as the Holy Spirit instructs and leads us. Please pray with us that we will be able to clearly discern God’s heart and vision for our school.

The Importance of Christian Service

This term our year 9 to 13 students were able to do a neighbourhood clean-up and some of our students helped us plant some fruit trees donated by one of our families, some examples of acts of Christian service. We hope to continue building opportunities for Christian service into our curriculum because the Scriptures are so clear: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). James go on to say that “pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27a) and Micah explains it even clearer, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8). Jesus’ life was an example of service. We hope to instill this attitude of service in our students.

Celebrating culture

Schools across New Zealand were celebrating Samoan Language Week from 29 May 2017 to 2 June 2017. Tyndale Park Christian School’s staff and students also participated by learning some basic phrases and games from our Samoan staff and students.

God has blessed our school with wonderful cultural diversity. Our students have the incredible opportunity to get to know students with a variety of cultural backgrounds, enabling them to learn how to establish meaningful relationships with people who are different from them. A Christian author who has been involved in cross-cultural ministry for many years commented that every culture displays some attribute of God. It confirmed to the author that human beings have been made in the image of God. I believe that the physical diversity we see in people and cultures is evidence of God’s infinite nature.

What does the Bible teach about culture? Jerry Solomon puts it this way,

We have seen that Scripture is not silent regarding culture. It contains much by way of example and precept, and we have only begun the investigation. There is more to be done. With this expectation in mind, what have we discovered from the Bible at this stage?

First, in some measure God “is responsible for the presence of culture, for he created human beings in such a way that they are culture-producing beings.”

Second, God holds us responsible for cultural stewardship.

Third, we should not fear the surrounding culture; instead, we should strive to contribute to it through God- given creativity, and transform it through dialogue and proclamation.

Fourth, we should practice discernment while living within culture.

Fifth, the products of culture should be judged on the basis of intent, not form. Or, to simply further: “We advance the theory that God’s basic attitude toward culture is that which the apostle Paul articulates in I Corinthians 9:19-22. That is, he views human culture primarily as a vehicle to be used by him and his people for Christian purposes, rather than as an enemy to be combatted or shunned.” Let us use this vehicle for the glory of God!

At Tyndale Park Christian School we celebrate culture with the intent of showing how great God is and how God is able to transform culture so that cultural practices glorify Him.

Sources:

Is it your tool or are you its slave?

The past two weeks, I read through Dr Nicholas Kardaras’ book “Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids-and How to Break the Trance”. I believe it is a must-read for any parent or educator. Dr Kardaras makes a convincing case for the developmentally appropriate use of digital technology and I am afraid, as I have suspected for a while, that parents and educators are not doing this well – I feel convicted both as a technology advocate and parent of young children.

In short, students younger than twelve need to spend as little time as possible on or in front of digital devices (e.g. TV, Xbox, PlayStation, smartphone, tablet, etc.) and research suggests that children under two and a half should not be allowed time in front of any screens whatsoever. Studies have confirmed that the overuse of digital technology has a negative impact on children’s brain development and it may manifest itself in a range of behavioural and learning disorders. It should come as no surprise that unstructured play and time in nature are some of the most valuable activities to develop a healthy brain.

The biggest challenge the present adult generation faces is whether we will have the guts to challenge our own thinking about digital devices and how we use them. We will also have to take on the strong marketing forces we are being subjected to, forces that have very cleverly sold us the idea that if we don’t expose our children to copious amounts of digital technology, they will be left behind. This is a false idea. Telling evidence is that some of the most successful Silicon Valley executives, the birthplace of many new digital technologies, do not allow their children much time on devices. It is also not uncommon to find their children in outstanding schools who do not use digital technology in teaching and learning.

I am concerned about the place digital technology has taken in society. A good friend wisely commented over the holiday “we will become like the things, e.g. technology, we ‘worship'”. Scripture teaches “they who make idols are like them; so are all who trust in and lean on them” (Psalm 115:8) and “the idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. [Idols] have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make [idols] are like them; so is everyone who trusts in and relies on them” (Psalm 135:15-18).

How are we going to respond to the advance of digital technology when we know that it, at times, is negatively impacting how we relate to others, that society seems to “unseeingly” and “unhearingly” adopt it even though discerning teachers and parents know from observation, and scientific research has shown us, that the overuse and developmentally inappropriate use of digital technology are not good for our kids?

Please do not misunderstand me: I am not becoming a technology naysayer. Digital technology is an important tool that I use every day to fulfil my responsibilities. I just think we are not quite getting it right yet and that we have succumbed to the influence of clever marketing that ultimately does not have the well-being of our children at heart.

We do need to teach our students to solve problems with the technology that is available to them. This will not only help them to be salt and light in this world, i.e. make a positive difference to the “wicked” problems (please check the definition) of this world, but also impact the nations with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let’s take a stand for the thoughtful use of digital technology in our homes and education in New Zealand.

Sources:

  1. Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids-and How to Break the Trance by Dr Nicholas Kardaras – https://www.amazon.com/Glow-Kids-Addiction-Hijacking-Kids/dp/1250097991
  2. A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problem
  3. Photo credit: schopie1 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA