My parents sent me to a public school and my wife’s parents sent her to a Christian one. Our own children have been homeschooled. Which is the better option? What are the pros and cons? How should the church approach this matter?
Opinions abound when it comes to the education of children. Some believe that the homeschool and Christian school movements are responsible for the moral demise of the public schools. They reason that since we removed the “salt and light” from the school we should not be surprised that darkness now prevails. The Christian school movement will often hold in contempt the public school and homeschool. “No one can possibly be right with God and send their kids to “Caesar” for their training.” “Homeschooling is basically a failed experiment that not only leaves the kids far behind academically but also leaves them socially awkward and unable to survive in the real world!” And the list goes on and on. As a homeschool parent, we have been more than startled by the comfort with which some have shared their negative views of homeschooling and by the intensity of their disdain for it! The homeschool movement, on the other hand, likes to think of themselves as the perfect alternative to both the public school and the Christian school and loves to share why! Obviously opinions abound and are usually based on our individual experiences and preferences.
How should we approach this matter? Here are a few thoughts and challenges:
- We should recognize that each option has pros and cons.
Each of the options have their potential issues. Homeschooling can become sloppy in its scheduling and can cause the student to lag behind if that happens. Christian school students can become so peer oriented that they fail to develop relationships outside of their peer group. Many often fall prey to the control of very strong cliques. The public school student can allow herself to be influenced by any number of wrong ideas which can negatively affect her future. I am sure those aren’t the only issues that could be raised
it is also true that each option has some pros. The public school is free and puts our children in the middle of one of the greatest mission fields of our day! Homeschool usually costs less than the Christian school, but may take more work simply because it can be harder for a parent to educate students in multiple grades. The Christian school provides a vast number of opportunities for activities and offers a way for students to have peer relationships —ideally with others who uphold Christian values and virtues. Both homeschooling and Christian schooling may provide a superior education because of the traditional methods of teaching that are followed. My point is simply that each option has its pros and cons.
- We should love, include, and support all the parents in our church.
It is no secret that children in the public school will face some issues that the other two options may not have to face. The teachers may be aggressive “unbelievers.” Evolution will likely be presented as a fact and not a theory. The student will daily be exposed to those who in no way embrace Christian virtues or values, and, in fact, those will often be attacked and ridiculed. When a family chooses to use this option (public school), it is imperative that they go overboard to have a decidedly genuine Christian home and that they maintain a very close discipleship relationship with their children every step of the way. Their children are going to need it. Rather than abandon or ignore them, however, the church must love and train the parents regarding the discipleship of their children.
It is also no secret that a student can attend a Christian school and graduate with a rejection of Christianity and the truths it upholds. The same is true for a homeschooler. The home is no less important in these options than it is in the public school option. In each case, parents should be the primary means of discipleship for their children. As someone has said, “We will never put enough money into Christian education to overcome the failures of our homes.” The church must help parents to win at home.
So what can a church do to love and support the families in the education of their children?
1. Offer helps: Family Conferences, Family Counseling. Resources.
2. Continually pray for all the families in your ministry. Regularly include your public school teachers and students in your prayer list and pray for them. Pray for your homeschoolers. Pray for the various Christian Schools in your area.
3. Diversify your youth groups. If the youth pastor makes one group his priority, the church will not have a unified youth group nor a unified church. I have observed that a church with a strong Christian school presence can often have little or no active public school students. A “homeschool” church often has the same issue. If we are not wisely intentional and intensely missional about this matter we can miss some incredible opportunities to impact lives in our communities, grow our churches, and unify our membership.
4. Pray for and support those who are employed in the public schools. Do you have public school teachers in your congregation? Pray for them. Pray for your School Superintendent and connect with them so they know it. Publicly acknowledging those who serve the schools will open the hearts of parents to your church. It will also open the door for you to impact and partner with these parents.
5. Develop growing relationships. Take steps to have a growing relationship with the parents in your public school community and be available to serve them. Visit the schools. Meet the principal. Eat lunch with the public school teens who attend your church. Take steps to know your local homeschool groups. Develop friendships with the Christian schools that serve the parents in your area. Impacting your community in this way will undoubtedly impact the homes of your area and will also impact your entire church family.
The enemy is certainly attacking the homes of our generation. Let’s do all we can to help them win.
So what do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,