Christian Grace & Schooling Options
A new school year begins this week. Several families in our church have been gearing up for this big event. Even if you do not have school-age children, do you remember the “New Year” feeling of Back to School?
For many Christian families, the stress of the back to school scramble is compounded by decisions regarding how to school their children. Do we choose to home school? Do we send our kids to public school? Christian School? How do we decide what’s best for our family and is right in the eyes of the Lord? I would like to encourage us all to think about how we can encourage one another as we make our respective decisions regarding our children’s education.
- Remember, parents, that it is your responsibility to educate your children in the fear and instruction of the Lord. You cannot avoid this no matter who you bring in as a “subcontractor,” so to speak. Whatever your decision, public school, Christian school or homeschooling, you are the ones who are responsible before the Lord for the education of your children.
- With this in mind, be on the lookout, parents, for opportunities to teach your children at any time – seize teachable moments. The Deuteronomy 6 instruction to teach God’s Word to your children all the time applies to all Christian parents, no matter what your educational choices.
- Be careful and gracious with others who make a different decision than you. Schooling options are just that: options. Calvary Grace does not officially endorse any one educational model. We have families who choose a variety of educational options. That is a good thing. Even our elders reflect this diversity of home, public and Christian schooling.
- Affirm parents and families in their choices. Ask good questions. Share resources. This interaction requires that we don’t judge others and that we don’t own false guilt for our educational choices. This affirmation and encouragement is simply loving one another and learning from one another for the glory of God. Our security and our identity must be in Christ, not in our perceptions of what others think of our choices on secondary matters.
- Talk to people who have experience with different forms of education. We have people at Calvary Grace who have a lot of experience with home schooling, public schooling and Christian schooling. If you don’t know who these people are, feel free to ask me and I’ll point you in their direction.
- Be careful when making generalizations. Two that I have heard are, “public school kids only care about their peer group,” and “homeschooled kids are socially awkward.” Sometimes these generalizations are presented as anecdotal evidence: “I knew a family that ______schools and they are ___________.” It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to fill in the blanks. If we’re not careful, this can become gossip that is hurtful but untrue. Our families are unique and their choices and personalities are complicated. We are called to love one another, even if we don’t always agree with one another about non-essential matters.
- Take a good look at the options and consider them soberly, prayerfully and with the help of your church family. Whatever you choose for your family should be done with the goal of God’s glory and a desire to follow hard after our Lord Jesus Christ. Raising children is hard work and it is a means of sanctification for Christian parents. It is a rewarding privilege and must not be taken lightly.
If you are reading this and you do not have children or your kids grown up and have left home, you can join the discussion and you can apply the principles above to other issues as well. This topic of schooling is a good example of a “wisdom issue.” We can have – and should have – opinions on a whole range of subjects that are not central to the gospel or our gospel partnership at Calvary Grace. We do have an obligation to bear with one another in love when we disagree on these secondary matters. Seek to grow in wisdom as disciples of Jesus Christ who are leading others to be disciples for the glory of God.
Pastor Terry Stauffer, currently lead pastor at Southgate Alliance Church in Edmonton and formerly an elder at Calvary Grace Church, our mother church, wrote this article back in September of 2014. Terry is a dear friend and former pastor to the members of the mission team launching Grace Church, and his advice reflects not only the pastoral position at our mother church but our own position at Grace Cochrane.