Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Bubble That We Are

If I had a nickle for every time a parent told me that someone got on to them for putting their kids in Christian school, and not letting them experience the "real world," I'd be able to retire comfortably.  I've heard that many times, from well meaning Christians, and even from students. 

"Christian school is just a shelter from the real world.  Kids from Christian families should be salt and light in the public school system, and should be learning and experiencing from being in that kind of environment."

I will agree with the assertion that Christian school is a shelter from the "real world," and for some very good, Biblical reasons.  As to whether the public school is "the real world," or whether it presents an opportunity for kids to be "salt and light," well, that's quite another matter. 

Jesus spent three years with his chosen disciples, teaching, modeling, encouraging, loving, disciplining, scolding.  And after three intense years with God in the flesh, one of them never "graduated" on to the "real world," preferring instead to benefit himself by betraying Jesus to his enemies.  The other eleven either fled to protect themselves, or eventually got around to denying his name when confronted with having to take sides.  Jesus set up the church so that his followers would have a place to go when their strength needed to be renewed, when their training needed to be enhanced, and when their souls needed to be comforted after being out in, and beaten up by, the "real world."  How is it, then, that we would expect some kind of real Christian growth to take place in an environment where the content, philosophical approach, and moral atmosphere is not allowed to even be influenced by the truth, much less to be a conveyor of it? 

Most social research, Christian or secular, shows that there is a steady stream of young people out the back door of the churches in this country.  Somewhere between 70% and 80% of the children of families who raise them in the church will leave it by the time they graduate from college.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the most pervasive influence in their lives during their younger years comes from the schools they attend.  Nor does this have to hit anyone in the head to make sense when you see that most of the 20% to 30% who remain in the church have spent at least some significant time in a Christian educational setting, whether in grade school, high school or college. 

The Bible makes parents completely and totally responsible for the education of their children.  There is no other option.  Christian schools recognize this by submitting to parental authority when it comes to their children, and working in an educational partnership with them.  Parents are involved in virtually every aspect of the educational process here, from the governing board to operating the lunch room.  Next to integrating Biblical truth into the curriculum, this is one of the unique, and distinctively Christian aspects of a Christian school.

Contrast that with any public school.  Parents are generally welcome only when it will benefit the school.  Since the school is an institution of the state, which is forced to be "neutral" when it comes to matters of faith, no Biblical principles or practices can be integrated into the curriculum or life of the school.  How can you teach truth, when you can't acknowledge the source of truth?  The effect of that on students, even on those from homes that are staunchly committed to Christ, is to water down and weaken their faith.  In the Christian school, our plan is to fertilize, water, and strengthen their faith and we have the tools to do it.  So we are in a bubble, much like a greenhouse or an incubator.  And at Portersville, we're in a really good one that is doing an excellent job. 

Our hope is that when our students leave the "bubble," they will be prepared to face the "real world" with all of the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10).