My friend Sarah wrote an awesome post to Christian students about ways to be effective in public schools. I love what she shared, I don’t disagree with her at all. However, her post rekindled a tension within me that I felt compelled to share and that is a challenge to Christian parents of students in public school.
I want to be clear, I have no doubt that Christian kids can have a tremendous impact in their schools by how they live out their faith with their peers and teachers. However, my challenge comes to Christian families before that moment.
As many of you know, my husband and I originally intended to homeschool our children. However, after trying that route for several months, I’ve come to realize that I am simply not the mom for that. I believe any mom can homeschool but I do not believe every mom should homeschool.
I am a good example of the latter – our time for “school” at home was the most anxiety-ridden parts of my day. I struggled with keeping my emotions in check, not just a day here or there – every day. Yes, I recognize some of this is struggling with sin in me but I realized quickly that I want my kids to have memories of me being nurturing & caring, not struggling with losing my cool every day.
I wrestled with guilt, with feelings of inferiority and worth – especially when I read stuff like Al Mohler’s article at AIG. I’m not saying he is wrong in his historical assessment of the public school system, but I am saying that overtly pushy opinions from respected Christians can easily make other Christians feel “less godly” or that they’re lacking some kind of spiritual maturity, which I think is wrong.
Then I read a wonderful book that my SIL gave me, called Going Public, which communicated the mandate to engage the school system as Christians. It’s a fantastic book, I highly recommend it to anyone who is weighing the options of schooling for their children.
In praying for wisdom, God gave me such a peace about not homeschooling and a renewed vision for the impact of the Kingdom we could have within the school system. We desire to seek the expansion of God’s glory among all people, this includes our own community and schools.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:14-16
Who will reach them and be a light to them unless Bible-believing Christians are in their midst?
I know several parents who have wonderful intentions of being a light in the schools and yet the responsibility of such a witness is born by their children. Many speak as though their kids have this big ambition to bring everyone they know to Christ and transform the school (yes, some definitely do and I’m so grateful for them), yet I struggle with this style of speech when the kids are in elementary school and struggle to engage people in every day life with matters of Christ.
While I believe there is certainly a witness in schools with Christian kids, I also believe that we can’t expect our kids to be witnesses in the school until they are saved themselves. This sets them up for failure. It puts undue pressure on them to live out a faith they know of in a works-based way.
So many times, Christian parents have this expectation that their child will share the good news with their friends, while their child still has yet to fully understand, believe & live out the gospel for themselves.
However, I absolutely believe that Christian FAMILIES can be a witness to the children’s peers, teachers and school staff. This is our desire as we pray about sending our kids to public school. We want to be involved as much as possible with the school and alleviate that pressure and expectation from our kids (whom say they love Jesus, but probably because they’ve been raised hearing about it and not necessarily making their faith their own yet) to take it up as a family instead.
We want to see evidence of salvation and sanctification within our kids before we confirm that they have faith & assume they’ll live it out. We want to see that it’s not lip service to us – affirming what we teach them or what they believe we want to hear.
Only a deep-rooted faith of their own will set them apart as a member of Christ’s church and thus give them the foundation they’ll need to be a light themselves within the school system.
Until that time, this is a family endeavor, led by us as their parents.
What are your thoughts?
**NOTE FOR CLARITY: I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not anti-homeschool, anti-Christian school or anti-private school. I’m not anti-any-kind-of-school, each household must decide for themselves what is best. The purpose for this post is make parents think about who upholds the brunt of evangelism and witness within a school before assuming their kids will be the ones to do it. It’s a call for the entire family to make “living out the gospel” a priority in all respects toward whatever schooling is chosen.