Christian Schools are great at doing Joseph and the Technicolored Dreamcoat. They are well-rehearsed at starting the day with prayer. Many Christian School students can recite more memory verses than students from ‘other’ schools. Christian Schools are very good at getting their staff together early in the morning to pray, sing and have devotions together. But as we know, Christian Education is so much more than this.
Christian Schools are fantastic at doing many activities which blur the lines between Church and School. Students at Christian Schools all over the world participate in good Christian performances, memorise scripture, learn about scripture and participate in morning devotions. Students of Christian Schools often have prayer modelled to them. Sometimes they learn to pray religiously, first thing in the morning and just before lunch, and other times prayer is modelled as a natural part of a Christian walk. They sing worship songs and recite scripture. All of these are vitally important in Christian Schools. But they must never be what defines Christian Education.
Our students need to learn about the scriptures and they certainly need to have the Christian walk modelled to them. However, the value of Christian Education is not found in the big picture events that are detailed above. It is in the small subtle and deliberate living out of a Biblical Worldview that makes the life-transforming difference.
To bring clarity to this point let's consider the parable of the Two Builders. What does it really mean to build your house on the rock? Jesus spoke of the wise builder who did just this in the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matt 7:24-27). Jesus gave us a picture of two builders at the end of his Sermon on the Mount; one was wise, and the other foolish.
Jesus taught many things in his time in ministry and the sermon on the mount was full of practical advice for living a life worthy of the God we serve. This sermon did not include advice on singing worship songs, memorising scripture nor was it about performances and religious activities. Christ's teaching on the Sermon on the Mount was about living a life of surrender.
As educators in Christian Schools, our responsibility is very much to give our students the best opportunity to build their life on the foundation of rock as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. A life which in many ways is counter-cultural. built on a worldview that is different from that of those around them.
A life built on the firm foundation as detailed in the Sermon on the Mount is;
- Pure in Heart (Matt 5:8)
- Salt and Light in this world (Matt 5:13-16)
- Has command over their thought life (Matt 5:27-32)
- true to their word (Matt 5:33-37)
- does not lose control in retaliation (Matt 5:38-42)
- Loves their enemy (Matt 5:43-48)
- Gives to the needy (Matt 6:1-4)
- Prays with meaning (Matt 6:5-15)
- Fasts (Matt 6:16-18)
- Does not build up riches here on Earth (Matt 6:19-24)
- Is not anxious because they know who is God (Matt 6:25-34)
- Does not judge others (Matt 7:1-6)
- trusts that God will provide (Matt 7:7-11)
- Treats others as they seek to be treated (Matt 7:12)
- Knows that life in not always easy (Matt 7:13-14)
- recognise that people’s actions are a sign of internal health (Matt 7:15-20)
- there is only one way to heaven (Matt 7:21-23)
Christian Schools must not be only about the verses display in the foyer, about the songs sung at an assembly, about the staff devotions nor just about the use of biblical stories in literacy lessons. Christian Education that really makes a difference empowers our students to build their lives on a foundation of rock. Helping our students understanding that they are purposefully and wonderfully designed for this time and this place. That they would have confidence in what God has done for them and who God is. Christian education finds its purpose when it is incessant in establishing this understanding in its students.
Let us not forget our line of business, Christian Education is about education. As Christian Educators we must be outstanding in the field of education. After all, we do this not for man, rather for our Father in Heaven (Col 3:23). However, in order to be truly involved in Christian Education, we need to equip our students to be strong Christians who are confident in who they are and that if they truly commit to putting Christ first in their life that He is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). The purpose of Christian Education is not to educate students for Biblical times, rather it is to equip God's youth as critical thinking confident and connected young people who can be in the future world they will enter into without being of the World. Unfortunately, I have seen far too many Christian School's whose pedagogy and curriculum stifles thinking and does not give God's youth the competencies and skills they need to interact in the world they are commissioned to 'go and make disciples'.
Memorising scripture, singing songs of praise, learning the stories of the Old and New Testament, reciting Old Testament accounts such as the Joseph play are all very important aspects of Christian Education and indeed should be a part of every Christian School. However, they should not be the sum total of what makes a Christian School different from the school down the road.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock." (Matt 7:24)
It has been seen many times. What truly gives Christian Education its value is the integration of a Biblical Worldview into the day to day happenings that each student in a Christian School experiences.
The big question for those of us in Christian Education is this: ‘In what way is our school different to the school down the road?’ (assuming it is not another Christian School)
Listen closely to the answers. Are the answers common for everyone? My prayer is that the answers are not limited to good Christian activities such as Scripture Memorisation, learning Bible Stories, Singing Songs and Praying a few prayers. You exist for so much more. How is your school actively empowering your students to build their lives on a solid foundation? The answer will be found in what you do daily, not just in the scheduled activities.