Most students start the new school year within the next week or so. Even we home-schoolers are gearing up and warning our kids they are going to have to start getting up a bit earlier! A few private schools around here are already cranking. Boy, summers seem to get shorter each year.
Anyone who knows me knows I have not been a fan of the public school system for a long, long time. It gets me in some hot water as a Pastor when I address the obvious flaws in the state run system, but I care about children and families too much not to at least issue a caution. It appears painfully obvious to me that parenting God’s way is made more difficult when children are not even with parents for most of the day, five days a week. I am not saying it’s impossible to be a godly parent if your children are in private or public schools. I am merely saying you are making it more challenging on yourself. And yes, I also know home-schooling families who do not seem to be taking their task nearly as seriously as they should and they should repent and get help from others who can equip them for the high-calling of gospel-centered home life and a thorough educational curriculum. So, nobody perfect here except Jesus! But it seems that given the bent of the state run schools, those parents in particular are taking quite a parenting risk.
Paul told the Church at Ephesus, “Fathers [parents] do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Nearly every Christian parent I know has found this task far more time-consuming and energy-demanding than we anticipated at our very first “gender reveal” parties. As the Lord made plain to His Old Covenant people, parenting is an all-consuming, non-stop calling (Deuteronomy 6). So, it does pain me a bit to see Christian parents send off their children to be taught, trained, dare I say raised, by others each day. Their hearts, which are “deceitful above all else” (Jer 17:9) are being entrusted to others and to a system of education that would not remotely recognize “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” as the goal. While public teachers are often amazing at their craft, they are not even allowed to do any public gospel heart work on students. Our Christian teachers’ hands are tied! It pains me. I cannot help it and I make no apologies for it.
That said, I realize many Christians really need the public education system. I hope and expect these parents also find their church families coming alongside them to bolster them in their parental calling. I thank God for every parent in the church I pastor. We have public school families, private school families, a throng of home-schooling families, and many teachers of all stripes! I love pastoring them all and am proud of the efforts I see all our families making to raise children who hate sin and adore Jesus Christ. And I love when I see our families helping one another to be the best they can be, by the gracious power of God. Our church family is precious! The love of Christ in us unifies us regardless of educational choices. And I pray each of us buckles down this year to seek to be even more gospel-driven and Bible-saturated in our public and private lives.
I dream of our public school teachers starting Bible studies at their schools in “off hours.” I dream of our parents of private Christian school students finding ways to invest in those students’ hearts. I dream of our home-school parents getting a heart for public school students and families and finding creative ways to serve them, such as after hours tutoring or donating school supplies to less privileged families. The gospel trumps all our preferences! May the Name of Jesus Christ go forth from us, Corydon Baptist Church. In all our schools. In all our communities. In all our workplaces. In all our recreational spots. May God push back darkness through us!
Every school is a mission field. May God give us His eyes to see and His heart to love.
For those interested in hearing a solid challenge from Focus on the Family, here are two radio broadcasts worth your time: http://www.drjamesdobson.org/popupplayer?broadcastId=d990a98f-39d1-4848-b678-6f5b1f838251