Christian School Movement in Trouble?

Recently, an educator in a large Christian school shared his concern with me that the Christian School movement is dying. Another leader in Christian education recently expressed similiar concerns to a friend of mine who is a Pastor. A parent recently told me that the school where they send their child experienced a drastic drop in enrollment and probably will not be able to offer sports like soccer to the students this year.

Where I live, the Christian schools are few, and their prices are out of reach for my family's budget. So, we have chosen to provide home education for our children. We lament that our children miss some of the opportunities that would be afforded them at a Christian school, but accept that God has not opened this door for us. While we are unable to send our children to a Christian school, we lament the declines so many Christian schools seem to be experiencing.

What's going on with Christian education in America? What role to local churches have in this? Do you think this will eventually have an impact on higher Christian education? Are there lessons we should be learning in light of this decline in an institution in which God's people have so heavily invested over the years?

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T Howard's picture

One word is the reason for the decline in the Christian school movement: mediocrity.

Ed Vasicek's picture

We homeschooled our kids, but having pastored in the same area for 26 years, here are my observations:

1. No method is guaranteed to produce faithful Christian adults; if such were the case, we would be saying we have found a way to eliminate free will/choice. We cannot program kids like computers.

2. I have seen success and failure in all methods; I know home schooled children who are now agnostics, alcoholics, being promiscuous, and simply not walking with the Lord. However, I think I see more kids from a home schooled background walking with the Lord than from other schooling backgrounds. I do not have statistics, but it seems evident to me.

3. When it comes to finished product and long-term walk, I cannot say I see much difference between kids schooled in a Christian school and a decent public school (I am not counting one Christian school in our area that draws misbehaving kids; you can imagine what those results are like).

4. Private Christian schools funded by the "country club" set [at "country club" rates of tuition ] might be a different story, but most of these kids would have been in advanced programs in public schools or would reside in wealthy school districts and probably would fare similarly.

"The Midrash Detective"

BryanBice's picture

One of the huge outside factors has to be the economy. Somewhere I read recently (was it on SI??) that there are a record number of Christian schools that have closed this year (over 200 ACSI closures as of beginning of August, compared with avg of 143), and administrators cite the economy as the primary factor.

I would have to concur that in many cases, mediocrity ranks right up there!

Ed Vasicek's picture

BryanBice wrote:
One of the huge outside factors has to be the economy. Somewhere I read recently (was it on SI??) that there are a record number of Christian schools that have closed this year (over 200 ACSI closures as of beginning of August, compared with avg of 143), and administrators cite the economy as the primary factor.

I would have to concur that in many cases, mediocrity ranks right up there!

I agree when it comes to economy. As far as mediocrity goes, all the stats I saw put private schools ahead of public. with homeschooling usually leading the ranks. Am I missing something?

To me, academics is secondary, but important (especially reading and thinking).

"The Midrash Detective"

Charlie's picture

I couldn't resist the urge to copy Bauder's obsolescent "whence." I'm actually fond of the word. Anyway, I think it is important to ask why Christian schools tend to mediocrity. There are certainly a complex of reasons, funding being an evident one. However, I think for the mediocrity of many schools was/is caused by an alarmist view of Christian schooling. For example, a slightly caricatured conversation between a senior pastor with an epiphany and an assistant pastor with a growing sense of dread:

We need a Christian school now!

Why?

Because the public schools are leading our children to the Devil!

So, what should we do?

Start a Christian school now!

But we need facilities.

We'll use the modulars and the Sunday School rooms.

But we need teachers.

Hire some people straight out of college, and anyone in our congregation who ever taught school. Put the youth pastor in for Bible and sports.

But we also need a principle and administrative staff.

Oh, we'll do that. Well, mostly you, but I'll step in when the kids really won't behave.

But we need to pay our staff.

Oh..., tell them it's ministry and pay them minimum wage. God will give them crowns in heaven.

But we don't have enough children in our congregation to make enrollment profitable, or even break even.

I'll preach that you're a sell-out and a sinner if you don't send your children to our school. Oh, and, we'll take all the public school dropouts, Mormons, and Catholic kids as long as they say they'll obey the rules. Besides, it's good evangelism.

Maybe we should take some time to think about this.

No time! Our children are being destroyed!

--------------

And so a Christian school is born, with no educational leadership, no vision, no administrative preparation, no money, underqualified and overworked teachers, a spiritually mixed student body, poor facilities, and a hearty feeling of righteousness for providing a godly alternative to the Devil's schools.

Truly, mediocrity is a compliment for such an endeavor. There are, however, some great Christian schools scattered across the nation. Most of them charge a pretty hefty tuition, but no good education is without cost, something that educational egalitarians have never been able to grasp. These schools planned their development and proceeded wisely at least most of the time, ensuring that they were delivering a quality educational product, not fire insurance for children. As Bauder has written before, we must reject an alarmist mentality if we are to build lasting institutions.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I think Christian schools are a paradox. They are often considered to be a sort of ministry, but yet in order to operate, they must charge to cover expenses. The people who work full-time in a school must be compensated a living wage, which makes the tuition more than the average Joe with 2.4 kids can afford. So the programs and opportunities are limited, the teachers sometimes unqualified... so in order to make more money, the school begins to compromise on entry requirements, and after a bit, it is no longer a Christian school, but a public school with a cross over the door, a dress code, and the Ten Commandments on the wall. Yippee.

IMO, if Christian schools are going to work in this century, they need to take a page out of the homeschooler's handbook, and operate more like co-ops than as traditional schools. They can reduce the tuition, pull from a greater number number of talented people who would love to volunteer for such an endeavor, and offer a better variety of learning opportunities.

BTW, there isn't such a thing as an opportunity that is limited to a traditional school and is unavailable to parents. It's a common misconception I feel compelled to correct. Smile

Jim's picture

Possible causes of decline

  • Declining membership in fundamental churches - impacts enrollment as a significant percentage of students come from such churches
  • Graying congregations in fundamental churches - declining pool of potential students
  • Smaller families - again declining pool
  • Rise of home school movement. True competition
Julie Herbster's picture

I agree with those who have cited the troubled economy and the rise of homeschooling as the two main factors contributing to the decline in Christian school enrollment. Often, these factors work in tandem: homeschooling is much more cost effective than Christian school tuition. And, really, homeschooling has never been easier than it is now. (I'm not saying it's EASY...just that it's never been easier, and that it looks more doable to parents who would have been hesitant to consider it 20 years ago.) As recently as seven years ago, I wasn't even considering homeschooling. Matt and I intended to put our daughter into the small CS about thirty minutes away from us (a good one, btw). But the sheer number of homeschoolers around me got my attention. We had conversations, weighed the pros and cons...and chose homeschooling "on a trial basis," for that year only. We always said we'd evaluate every year whether to put the kids in the school or keep them at home. And we did for a while. But the benefits of homeschooling have been so overwhelming--the flexibility and convenience, the family time with the kids, increased time for extracurricular opportunities, customized academic instruction, huge support system, cost effectiveness, etc., etc.--that we haven't even talked about sending them to school for a couple of years now.

Anyway, that has been our thought process...and Matt and I are both products of a great Christian school, and are thankful for the education we got there. If anyone was a prime candidate for the Christian school, our kids were. Yet here we are: homeschooling and loving it.

I will say that I do feel sorry for the families who are watching their good Christian schools decline and/or eventually close their doors. I know that homeschooling is not an option for everyone, and I really do hate to think that good options are decreasing for my Christian friends who are not able to homeschool for one reason or another. I hope their schools can hang on through the economic downturn, and can find creative ways (like maybe what Susan suggested) to keep the Christian education option open.

rogercarlson's picture

As a pastor who lives in an area where there are no good Christian schools.I understand. the concern. We have ahd to deal with this most of the time that we have lived here. I think that the economic downturn has probably put some schools under that maybe should have been. That sounds soo much more harsh than I mean it. I think in the 70's and 80's, everyone believed that God wanted them to start a school - much like the mock conversation earlier.

For us, homeschooling is not an option. Yes we have carefully weighed the options (Yes, Susan, we didn't enter the decision lihgtly Smile ). Our 3 older ones have been in a Lutheran school. After volunteering for a long time, my wife started teaching there a couple of years ago. Our youngest has autism and is in special ed at the local public school. Our oldest graduated from the Lutheran school and started as a freshman in the public school today (monday). It has been scary, but through many circumstances this is how the Lord has led us. I still would love a solid Christian school option, but God had other plans.

As a product of Christian education, I am sad to see the demise. But I am also reminded on almost a daily basis that the Christian Schools did not and could not do be what everyone thought they would be. LIke Julie and Susan have said so often, it comes down to parenting. No matter where God puts your family, it comes down to training your children to honor and glorify God no matter what.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

but at one time, many schools were by default 'Christian' schools. The 'rebirth' of the Christian school was of a reactionary nature, or so it seems. It's the same with home education- there was a time when that was the only option- teaching yourself, finding someone to mentor you, or if from a wealthier family, having tutors/governesses. There was no educational system as we know it today; and the modern public school system is only around 120 years old. Nothing's really 'new', but there appears to be a rhythm to the way things come and go.

The Christian school movement doesn't have to kerplotz, but it is hard to even get people to consider creative alternatives to traditional schooling. I think home education has begun to have an effect in this area, because there is a track record and evidence that a motivated and dedicated parent can provide a quality education for their child, regardless of how many years of schooling they themselves had. This begs the question of why we feel the need to require a full staff of professional teachers, when obviously this is not a necessity.

The Abell Foundation did a study... http://www.abell.org/pubsitems/ed_cert_summary_1101.pdf ]"Stumbling for Quality" . The bottom line was that certification proves nothing- the best teachers were those possessing key attributes such as cognitive and verbal skills, a positive attitude, and an affinity for the students. This to me is intuitive- there are many talented folks who are experts in their fields, but they could not effectively teach what they know- and some of us have been their victims in the classroom. Wink

Now that homeschoolers have kicked down the door and paved the way for alternative educational methods, I think it's high time some Christian schools woke up and smelled the coffee. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-eatdrink013.gif[/img ]

Charlie's picture

Susan R wrote:
but at one time, many schools were by default 'Christian' schools. The 'rebirth' of the Christian school was of a reactionary nature, or so it seems. It's the same with home education- there was a time when that was the only option- teaching yourself, finding someone to mentor you, or if from a wealthier family, having tutors/governesses. There was no educational system as we know it today; and the modern public school system is only around 120 years old. Nothing's really 'new', but there appears to be a rhythm to the way things come and go.

A perhaps counterintuitive twist in the history of that rhythm is that the Lutheran Reformation heavily emphasized the need for public schooling as the only way to piety. Luther, Melanchthon, and Bugenhagen have a sizable array of writings dedicated to the establishment, maintenance, and curriculum of public schools. The Reformed followed in the Lutheran footsteps. I suppose, with the increasing separation of church and state, it is understandable that both groups would turn from public to confessional schools, since in that previous era the public schools were confessional schools.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Jonathan Charles's picture

I'll add my two cents though I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been said. From my experience (a son of a Christian school teacher, a graduate of a Christian school and with children of my own in a struggling Christian school) the biggest need is money. Christian schools I know if in central Pennsylvania are charging $3500-5000 per student. ALOT of families cannot afford that. With dwindling enrollments, these schools can often not afford to pay a starting teacher even 20K. This impacts teacher recruitment. The school is hindered in providing adequate facilities, labs and advanced courses that very bright high schoolers want to take. The Christian schools I know of that are thriving are doing two things. One is that they have a church that is contributing generously to provide facilities and to supplement the income so that the tuition can stay reasonable. The other is that some do very aggressive fund-raising to be able to offer generous scholarships.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

It's great that Christian schools are attempting to find solutions, but they are still thinking inside the traditional school box. There is NO reason for school to cost $3000 per child. But it will take energy, creativity, and sacrifice to resolve this dilemma. More money is not going to fix the problem long term. People are going to get tired of buying candy bars, key chains, candles, and having their cars washed.

Ron Bean's picture

I have spent over 30 years in Christian education and this thread has moved me to add some personal observations. As I begin, I will acknowledge that there are exceptions to these generalities, but these seem to typical of Christian schools today.

Years ago a noted fundamentalist leader told me that I would see the day where Christian schools would become little more than private schools. 30 years ago, most Christian schools had "hot" chapel platforms, with preaching that addressed the spiritual needs of the young people. Today it is not unusual to see schools without chapel (or to have chapels that encourage conformity to "standards" rather than to Christ) and even to offer Bible classes as an elective. Many of the Christian schools that boast of their "high standards" are more concerned with hem lines and haircuts than they are with heart issues.

Mediocrity is a fact. Education in the Fine Arts is practically non-existent. Qualified math and science teachers are absent. And when we consider that most Christian schools do not admit students who are performing below grade level or have a learning disability, the defense that "our students test at or above national norms" rings hollow. The fact is the honor roll students at most Christian schools would have a hard time if they transferred to an IB or AP program somewhere else. (Again, there are some exceptions.)

Discipline seems to be on the decline in Christian schools. Parents are having to cope with the same problems that occur in government schools---bullying, vulgarity, etc. Administrators are hesitant to take a hard line on behavior problems because they may lose students and thus lose needed income.

The money problem has been well-documented. Low teacher pay practically assures the absence of male teachers and role models for the boys and young men.

Home schooling is on the rise because parents are realizing that they can provide a higher quality education than the Christian schools are offering and also protect their children from peer influences that were once only found in government schools.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Joseph's picture

Susan R wrote:
It's great that Christian schools are attempting to find solutions, but they are still thinking inside the traditional school box. There is NO reason for school to cost $3000 per child. But it will take energy, creativity, and sacrifice to resolve this dilemma. More money is not going to fix the problem long term. People are going to get tired of buying candy bars, key chains, candles, and having their cars washed.

I agree, Susan, that more money won't solve the problem, but I disagree about costs. High quality products cost a lot of money, and that's perfectly reasonable. The issue is that most Christians schools do not deserve to be paid that much because the shoddy education they offer. A good classical school, like one I was familiar with in Lynchburg (New Covenant Schools) deserves to charge as much as it did because the children get a first-rate education. Kids from that school have gone to Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago, and a number of other top-tier colleges.

The reason I would never pay for my kids to go to a typical Christian school is because they are usually mediocre schools, as has been noted numerous times on this thread. A school does not deserve $3000-5000 when it has teachers with no qualificaiton who are simply bad at what they do, and who would never have been hired or survived in a competitive environment (that's another part of the problem; where there is no competition, quality almost always plummets). The youth pastor-as-Bible-teacher is a great example; as if, suddenly, qualifications and demonstrated skill in teaching become irrelevant because you've got the labor on hand (in a church school, which most are).

Homeschooling may look a lot cheaper (and, depending on how many kids you have, it is), but sometimes it's not quite as much as people often think if you calculate the hours a parent must spend, and then compare that to how much those hours are worth if the parent was working in a paid profession. I was homeschooled, and it seems cheap for my family because my mom didn't work after she got married, and she had three kids (then another three) but if you think if it not only in terms of money spent on material but of labor-hours, then it's still expensive, especially if you only have one kid, although I agree in many ways it's a more affordable and better option than most Christian schools.

Jack's picture

Joseph wrote:
Homeschooling may look a lot cheaper (and, depending on how many kids you have, it is), but sometimes it's not quite as much as people often think if you calculate the hours a parent must spend, and then compare that to how much those hours are worth if the parent was working in a paid profession.

For example, even at the federal minimum wage the opportunity cost of homeschooling two children nine months out of the year is more than $5000 per child. And it's over $3000 per child if you're homeschooling three. Of course, that opportunity cost goes up for those who could be working in more lucrative positions. For someone qualified to work as a staff RN, for example, the opportunity cost of homeschooling three children would be more like $10,000 per child.

*****

For those who like to see the numbers:

$7.25 per hour * 40 hours * 39 weeks = $11,310
Divide that by the number of children

Julie Herbster's picture

Jack's reference to "opportunity cost" reminded me of another thread in which (I think) Derek Jung was saying something similar. Although I understand the concept of opportunity cost, I have a hard time thinking in those terms for some reason. I think maybe it's because I wouldn't be working outside the home even if I weren't homeschooling...and if I were, I have no idea what I'd be doing (part time, full time, professional, menial, low-wage, high wage, etc.). I don't think necessarily that "time is money; money is time." Maybe that's because I'm not the family breadwinner. I guess I think of "time" and "money" as separate (but sometimes intertwined) resources that God has given me to manage. I could also include "health/energy" and "educational background" as other "resources" at my disposal, I suppose. But we don't think of "opportunity cost" when it comes to these resources...There are no algorithms to express "health/personal energy cost," as this resource is more intangible than dollars and cents....So, am I being simpleminded when I say that homeschooling costs me around $550 a year in money, several hours a day in time, and quite a bit of energy, thought, and elbow grease?

When it comes right down to it, I think the benefits ("product," in business language) of homeschooling far outweigh all of the costs of time, money, and personal energy. So, as long as we're "running in the black," I tend not to obsess about these other things. Smile Thinking about "what I could be doing" or "how much money I could be making" might serve only to tempt the martyr in me, and increase my pride that I "gave it all away" for the sake of my children. I know that's not what Jack or anyone else is advocating. That's just me extrapolating why I can't think in those terms.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Joseph wrote:
Homeschooling may look a lot cheaper (and, depending on how many kids you have, it is), but sometimes it's not quite as much as people often think if you calculate the hours a parent must spend, and then compare that to how much those hours are worth if the parent was working in a paid profession. I was homeschooled, and it seems cheap for my family because my mom didn't work after she got married, and she had three kids (then another three) but if you think if it not only in terms of money spent on material but of labor-hours, then it's still expensive, especially if you only have one kid, although I agree in many ways it's a more affordable and better option than most Christian schools.

I don't translate the hours I spend parenting into wages- in principle I find this idea extremely distasteful, even though I do understand what you are getting at with it.

However, homeschooling does not require spending alot of time 'teaching' my kids. I also believe that the person who does the work is the one who is doing the learning- so my kids do 99.95% of the work, with me acting as a guide or coach. I believe that kids learn when they are presented with quality materials and inspired to be curious. All they need is a nudge on occasion to make sure their education is well-rounded, and that they deal with their weaknesses and improve on their strengths. When they begin the process of specialization is when the big bucks kick in- but that's college, not elementary or high school, which is what we are talking about here.

I also don't use textbooks except for math and grammar, so materials costs are minimal. In our home we have somewheres near 1,500 books- from Mark Twin to Nietzsche, from Chaucer to Christopher Paolini, and we go to the library at least once a week. My overdue fees could fund the economy of a third world country. We watch seminars and documentaries on DVD and online. There is no end to the information we have access to.

For example, lest thou thinkest I exaggerate-
http://ocwfinder.com/ Open Courseware Finder
http://www.apple.com/itunes/whatson/itunesu.html iTunes U
http://www.open-video.org/ The Open Video Project
http://education-portal.com/article_directory/Free_Online_Courses_and_Ed... Education-Portal.com
http://academicearth.org/ Academic Earth

If parents desire a quality education for their children, but high tuition for professional teachers is not an option, then other methods MUST be considered. I sense at times that churches and/or parents are saying "Well, we can't afford a good school (in the traditional sense), so we can't have one at all". If some people were given charge of the world's innovations, we'd still be waiting on the wheel.

While we are comparing educational choices here, let's not forget how badly our public schools are faring overall. Education Week just posted http://www.edweek.org/login.html?source=http://www.edweek.org/ew/article... ]an article lamenting the fact that only 23% of the nation's graduates are college ready based on ACT scores. That doesn't take into account the issues in schools that can have an affect on a child's character and spiritual development. It takes a very dedicated parent, even more so than the homeschool parent, to have one's child in a public school. My job is ridiculously easy compared to that of a PS parent, and I don't take that for granted. Ever.

I think if churches and parents are serious about providing a quality education based on a Biblical worldview, they are going to have to turn to non-traditional methods, take advantage of technology, and observe what homeschooling parents have spent the last 30 years proving again and again- it doesn't take a professional and $60,000 to educate a child.

Joseph's picture

Susan,

You may have misinterpreted the purpose of my post. Again, I was home educated, and I intend myself on homeschooling my children, as I look forward to teaching them Latin, literature, philosophy, etc. My point was simply to note a factor in cost evaluations that is relevant, and it's not distasteful to do so. Any parents who are both working obviously will be forced to think about the matter in these terms if they are considering homeschooling. I think homeschooling is still obviously cheaper than private school, but there are other economic factors to consider than simply cost of material, and that was my point. Time is money and everyone knows it. So, if a family is short on money, spending time without monetary renumeration is simply a factor that must be considered. Obviously there are other, far more intrinsically valuable rewards for home-educating, and I was not disputing that.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I don't think I am misinterpreting your post, nor am I disputing that people do cost evaluations when it comes to decisions like education, but I personally find it distasteful to do such an analysis when it comes to what is best for my kids. It has never occurred to me to attach a monetary value to the time and energy I spend educating my kids, because I view that as a responsibility just as keeping house and preparing meals.

Obviously there are things that we would factor time/energy costs when deciding on a product, activity, course of action... so I am not opposed to the idea of cost evaluation. I think Julie said it very well- I agree completely with her post... it must be a mom thing.

What I am really hoping to convey is that it is very possible to have quality Christian schools without the exorbitant tuition if alternative methods and new technologies are being utilized, as well as the spirit of volunteerism and ministry that one should be able to expect in a church.

Ron Bean's picture

Speaking in general, what kind of product is the average Christian school producing?

The "plan' was for Christian schools to produce graduates who would excel spiritually and academically. It was hoped that many graduates would enter some sort of "full-time Christian service" and that others would become "salt" in secular employment.

I'll be honest with you. While there are exceptions, there are many Christian school graduates who leave unaffected by the Christian atmosphere in which they've lived.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Ron Bean wrote:
Speaking in general, what kind of product is the average Christian school producing?

The "plan' was for Christian schools to produce graduates who would excel spiritually and academically. It was hoped that many graduates would enter some sort of "full-time Christian service" and that others would become "salt" in secular employment.

I'll be honest with you. While there are exceptions, there are many Christian school graduates who leave unaffected by the Christian atmosphere in which they've lived.


I'd have to agree- the dream of the Christian school has not been fulfilled in reality. In my class of 21 kids, most were sexually active starting in 9th grade, three were pregnant by senior year, and one had an abortion. Several were recreational alcohol and drug users. That was in the 80's. Oy vey.

But how to nail down what went wrong... I'd cite parental abdication of the teaching and training of children, growing materialism resulting in a marked increase of the 'necessity' of two-income families, acceptance of declining morality amongst kids as the 'normal' behavior of teenagers, a lack of spiritual mentoring of younger people by older mature Christians due to peer segregation... I could go on, but I'd probably get http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-fc/tomato.gif[/img ] I think alot of folks thought a Christian education was a simple equation, but IMO many problems were just not anticipated, and when they arose, they were not dealt with Biblically.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
The youth pastor-as-Bible-teacher is a great example; as if, suddenly, qualifications and demonstrated skill in teaching become irrelevant because you've got the labor on hand (in a church school, which most are).
This sounds strange to me. It sounds like you are saying that at youth pastor should not be teaching Bible because he is unqualified and has not demonstrated skill in teaching. So why would he be a youth pastor? I think the qualifications for pastoral ministry are higher than those for teaching high school.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Larry wrote:
Quote:
The youth pastor-as-Bible-teacher is a great example; as if, suddenly, qualifications and demonstrated skill in teaching become irrelevant because you've got the labor on hand (in a church school, which most are).
This sounds strange to me. It sounds like you are saying that at youth pastor should not be teaching Bible because he is unqualified and has not demonstrated skill in teaching. So why would he be a youth pastor? I think the qualifications for pastoral ministry are higher than those for teaching high school.

that this was a strange example. What's more common in my experience is the basketball coach teaches science and the youth pastor teaches math.

Jim's picture

Comment in Ben's blog: http://paleoevangelical.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-gospel-demands-reform-o...

Quote:
This week I connected with a young adult who was formerly a member of our church. She called herself "a lifer" in that she spent her entire schooling at our church school ... from 1st grade to HS graduation.

I asked her to tell me where all the members of her graduating class are. She mentioned by name more than a dozen young people who graduated with her. Of that group only 1 is even remotely associated with our church.

Meaning: We subsidized the education of more than a dozen young people for more that a decade (most were "lifers" as well) all the while expecting teachers to make less for the ministries sake. And none of those young adults (in their early 20s now) is active in our church.

I asked her about the impact of the Christian school on young people who attend the church but not the school. Her response was that the christian school attendees shunned the non-school attendees.

To the extent that the bolded section above is true, this is a problem!

rogercarlson's picture

Jim,

Not only is it true, I have seen it happen. Typically it happened in church/schools where external standards were deemed very important (we can let our daughters talk to those girls in jeans, out girls will wear them). But I have seen it on other church/school situations as well.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Mike Harding's picture

Christian education can be done well. In the state of Michigan we have the highest unemployment in the US -- 15.2 percent. Communities around our church have 20 percent unemployment (Warren, MI). Yet, we are experiencing growth in our Christian school that has strict entrance requirements and very conservative policies on dress, deportment, entertainment, church attendance, etc. A Christian school needs first and foremost a strong, vibrant church which is doctrinally and philosophically sound, financially stable, evangelistic and missions oriented. The church must view its school as an edification ministry to minister to like minded families in the community. Its mission is sanctification, academic excellence, training in the fine arts, and strong discipline in athletics to equip young men and women to do the work of ministry vocationally and in their local NT churches. A school must have strong male leadership and highly credentialed teachers, pay them a living wage, and offer the education to is constituents at an affordable price. Special funds must be started to aid the teachers (Barnabas fund) and low income families (Timothy fund). Also, Christian schools must address children with special learning needs as well as those who can highly excel. Local churches of like minded faith and practice should join together and support the school by sending students, recommending its ministry, and offering volunteer help. We have just celebrated our 40th year of Bethany Christian School. Our enrollment is 300 students (K5--12). In addition we have a music academy. We also assist our home school families by offering music lessons, choir, band, orchestra, ensembles, chapel, Bible, and athletics for a modest price. All those programs begin early in the afternoon and conclude by 5:30 PM. The majority of our graduates attend BJU, Clearwater, Maranatha, and Northland. Others study at the local universities. Many have entered vocational ministry and nearly all are active in their local churches, serving in teaching, evangelism, and music ministries. It can be done. It takes work, prayer, the right foundation and deep conviction. There are a number of outstanding schools in our state that I can say similar things about.

I recommend that churches with no Christian school available help their families by having a home school co-op as well as a dynamic youth ministry. I know several churches that have done this successfully.

Pastor Mike Harding

Teri Ploski's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Comment in Ben's blog: http://paleoevangelical.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-gospel-demands-reform-o...

Quote:
This week I connected with a young adult who was formerly a member of our church. She called herself "a lifer" in that she spent her entire schooling at our church school ... from 1st grade to HS graduation.

I asked her to tell me where all the members of her graduating class are. She mentioned by name more than a dozen young people who graduated with her. Of that group only 1 is even remotely associated with our church.

Meaning: We subsidized the education of more than a dozen young people for more that a decade (most were "lifers" as well) all the while expecting teachers to make less for the ministries sake. And none of those young adults (in their early 20s now) is active in our church.

I asked her about the impact of the Christian school on young people who attend the church but not the school. Her response was that the christian school attendees shunned the non-school attendees.

To the extent that the bolded section above is true, this is a problem!

We go to a very little church, and the few kids we have go three different places - homeschool (majority), christian school, and public school. We have maybe 20-30 kids totally from preschool to high school! I said it was tiny! (And we've lost some due to a church split last year.) Among the youth, the three never mix. The exception to that is those who are involved in the local youth theater program, those kids tend to intermix, but those who are not involved don't mix with anyone outside their own sphere.

rogercarlson's picture

Teri,

My church is smaller....LOL But seriously, why do you think the three goups never mix?

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Teri Ploski's picture

My daughter has tried to break into the other groups, but they just don't mix at all. The few that there are do go to youth group, but often she's on the outside looking in. Right now, she's the only girl her age - the others graduated last year and she's a senior. There are two other senior guys - both homeschooled, as is my daughter, and they are friends, but they also both have girlfriends that see my daughter as "competition" :\ Oh well, that's another story ....

I've talked about it with several other moms, and none of us can figure it out. The ones who "stand off" the most and don't become involved, in fact eventually change churches totally, are those that go to the Christian school. Their attitude or whatever seems to be that they really don't want to mix or even talk to those who are not "fortunate" enough to go there. Their friends are all at school, so they end up going to church where they are. The few times that they actually come with their parents to our church, they sit with their parents, don't talk, don't socialize with anyone, unless it's another DCS student. My daughter has tried to make friends with some of them, but she got to the point of "why bother?"

As a result of all this, neither my son nor my daughter really want to come to our church. There are a lot of problems, mostly arising from the painful split last summer, from which we have yet to recover. I let my daughter go to another youth group, but I do want her at church with us on Sundays. Of course, not being able to drive kind of enforces that anyhow Smile In my son's case, he's now at a Christian college in Phoenix, and heading to the ministry, partly because of the feeding he got at the church that he changed to.

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