- Have we asked the local community recently about what they might need from this school or what can the community give the school?
- Have we talked with our school community about their hopes and fears for the future?
- Have we asked our students recently to tell us what they think school is for?
- Have we asked our children what they think about Jesus and the kingdom of God?
Often there is this emphasis on trust God and He will open or close the doors. Have you heard this? I have. And, I agree. Yes, here it is, but… He provided us with an imagination and the ability to envision change and growth. Currently, Salem Christian School, a mid-sized Christian school in Eastern Pennsylvania is imagining huge. Why? -We can accomplish big things because our God is unfathomably awe striking. After all, in Genesis 2:9, we find where God imagined and created all of earth’s vegetation with the pleasing beauty and awe in addition to utility. “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:9).
First I must point out that there is such a thing as a Christian imagination. Imagination is not naturally evil. Rather, imagination is a gift from God that is endemic to His character. Thus, Christian schools need to fulfill their responsibility and challenge themselves, parents, and children to use their imagination. Moreover, the school needs to instruct and challenge itself and its stakeholders how to use their imagination within the Christian worldview. Ask ourselves, “How does God envision the future?”
Imagination should engulf everything.
Assuming that imagination is a part of how we reflect God’s image, then as stakeholders in His ministry, we are compelled to allow imagination to permeate our content material and our pedagogy. Furthermore, our own learning experience tells us that when our teachers (either parents at home or educators at school) balance trusted nurture with the imaginative and joyful surprise of the unexpected, the potential for meaningful learning increases enormously. The imagination-filled joy of learning among students is enhanced when accompanied by the imagination-filled joy of teaching among teachers.
Expand with imagination
A Christian school (any institution) is always on the move. It is either growing or dying. The fuel to growth and flourishing is imagining what God can do and planning accordingly. The EdServ Director in Australia, Richard Edin, recently wrote, “When communities allow an economic rationalist perspective to dominate the curriculum space to the degree that aesthetic subjects are squeezed out or imaginative approaches to subjects are replaced by cerebral “teach-to-the-exam” routines, we are practicing an idolatrous pre-emptive capitulation that is detrimental to our students and detrimental to the vibrancy of our wider culture.” Although I agree with the sentiment, I would say that a rational subject like science does not disallow imagination. On the contrary, the ultimate example of understanding according to the education research by Bloom is creativity. And, creativity requires imagining the content or skill within a new context.
Essence of Christian Schooling
Sadly, Edin in his blog references research by Cooling and Green (2015) that confirms the “Essence of Christian Schooling” survey conducted by dozens of Christian teachers in Australasia. In both of these studies, the overwhelming majority of teachers in Christian schools imagine that the primary relationship between their Christian faith and their teaching is in the area of interpersonal relationships and so-called spiritual matters such as Bible memorization and personal salvation issues. We know that the Gospel changes everything. Thus, we are convinced that Christian education done properly and imaginatively, Christian school education within the subject areas themselves will challenge students with the hope-filled wonder of God and His world.
Salem Christian School teachers imagine their vocation differently—to see the worldview assumptions of education in general, the context of learning, and the very nature of the subjects they teach, as being deeply oriented in the Christian faith. I just read in a blog this statement, “There is no division between faith-based schooling and non-faith-based schools. All schools are faith-based in that they work out from convictions about what makes for good education.” Every school, private, public, and Christian cannot escape the fact that the students are impacted by the convictions of the system they school within. For, all schools have student outcomes in mind that reflect a certain set of beliefs about the world and our places and tasks in it. A Christian school certainly has some commonalities with a secular approach, but at its heart and in its goals, practices, and outcomes, a Christian pedagogy and cultural ethos that will be distinctively different. This is why a proper Christian education ultimately develops students who love God with all their minds, bodies, and souls.
I know that there are many many reasons for Christian education. And, I try not to be arrogant enough to presume it is the only proper choice. However, I am completely convinced that when Christian education is done well it soars above the competition. Here are my top 7 reasons why.
SEVEN REASONS Why You Should Send Your Child To A Christian School:
God holds parents accountable: What your children are taught in school should be a direct extension of your parental views (Proverbs 22:6, Luke 6:40)
God expects a high level of instruction: Christian schools offer a better level of instruction. Standardized test scores have shown that the scores of Christian school students are consistently higher than state and national averages of their peers in public schools (Stanford Achievement Tests, ACT, SAT…).
God expects us to think like him: We must transform ourselves into the likeness of Christ. We cannot do so if we do not know the world as He would have us to see it. Christian school educators teach all subject matter from a Christian context. They put the Bible at the center of the curriculum and ask the student to critically engage all they see in the world through the eyes of God.
God is the origin of all truth, knowledge, and understanding: Ask Adam and Eve how they found out about knowledge. Children do not grow spiritually stronger in a non-Christian environment. Students do not become stronger Christians by being taught non-Christian thinking…and there is no such person as a “neutral” school teacher who neither advances nor inhibits religion. Practically, public education is centered on aesthetic or agnostic views. And, is primarily antagonist or ambivalent, each of which are not appropriate if we are developing children who love God.
God’s Word is the most important text in a person’s life: Whether we accept it or not, education without the Bible is akin to the blind leading the blind.
God expects the Church to support each other: Some are given the gift of teaching, while others are not. Those of us who have been honored with this spiritual gift and calling have the responsibility to partner with Christian parents who desire their children to experience a Christian education.
God gives children as a gift: There is no better way to honor that gift than by raising these children to honor the giver. Parents are responsible to train their children according to His Word not only at home and in church, but in school as well.
Of course, there are children in the Christian school that do not follow Jesus. Well, anywhere there is a human being there is a sinner. Thus, the Christian school provides an opportunity for your child to witness for Christ. The presentation of Christ is not only welcome but is integral to a Christian school. We are sold on the commands of the Gospel to spread the news, baptize, and disciple others.