Friday, July 12, 2013

There You Go Again......

The words in the title of this blog were made famous by former President Ronald Reagan.  It was his way of deflecting criticism that came about as a result of incorrect assumptions, misinterpretations and misrepresentations.  I wonder what he would say these days, with hyper-politics creating its own world when it comes to misrepresentation. 

So I'm using his expression today, because during the past year, we initiated the Warrior Legacy Fund, and in the background, I hear the faint exasperation of completing Mr. Reagan's sentence, "There you go again...asking for money."  Yes, we are.  Here's why.

More than any other Christian school with which I have been associated, PCS is committed to affordability, and to providing a level of financial aid that makes it possible for families to choose a quality, Christian education for their children that they would not be able to have otherwise.  I believe that is the way God intends for us to operate, and it is based on his plan for stewardship and giving that is Biblical.  If Christian education were only for those who could afford it based on their family income, 80% of the families who are actively involved in their local church would not be able to consider a Christian school as a viable, and in fact, superior option for their children. 

During its first year, the Warrior Legacy Fund raised over $40,000, with most of the contributions coming from graduates of PCS and their families, grandparents, extended family members, businesses and churches which are friends of the school.  Added to other funds that were given to the school by generous Christian friends, including the EITC grants, the Pennsylvania Family Foundation, the Pittsburgh Foundation, and through our own fund raising efforts here at the school in events like Workathon and Fun Run, not counting what the athletic or fine arts committees raise, and the amount comes to $180,000.  That is 13% of the school's total budget, an average of almost $1,000 per student, and for those families who qualify to receive financial aid, it is worth much more than that.  That's why we ask. 

That's more than a tithe.  And I believe that's one reason why God blesses us in so many other ways.

The Biblical model is found in the early church in the book of Acts.  It was God's intention that the church, when it came together, would share its ministry expenses, and its resources, providing for need out of abundance, and putting in place a system where it became impossible to give more than was received in the way of blessing.  As a Christian discipleship ministry, we have no other way of generating income except the tuition and fees paid by our families, and the generous giving of our friends and family, and everyone who ever went here is family.  So we ask, in order to give those people whom God has blessed with abundance the opportunity to participate in our ministry by giving.  In turn, we understand that God will bless them for doing  it.

And I guarantee you, no dollar that is given to PCS is wasted.  Our budgeting process takes into consideration every cost, every possible savings, and considers every need carefully.  The priorities go to those things absolutely necessary for providing a quality, Christian education, and I'll toot the horn of both the quality and the distinctively Christian nature of the education that is offered here.  You won't come close to either of those things in the public, charter or cyber school systems. 

We use our relationship with the Intermediate Unit, and their collective buying power to provide the school supplies our students need at a fraction of the cost that you would pay for these things if you bought them at retail price in your local department store.  For a $25 fee, your kids are getting what amounts to $125 worth of school supplies.  That's one of many examples of ways that PCS's leadership is thinking about how to help parents keep their kids here and keep it affordable. 

Every dollar given to PCS is a blessing.  We operate a school that is immersed in Christian principle, that provides a superior quality academic experience, that works hard to create an atmosphere that appeals to the interests of our students through athletics and fine arts, and that, above all, is training and raising up the next generation of leaders of the churches of this country, and beyond.  Giving allows the person who is making the gift the opportunity to participate in that, and be blessed from the experience. 

That's why we ask. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Inspiration for the Work We Do

"If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.  Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather train yourself for godliness, for while bodily training is some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.  This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.  For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."  I Timothy 4:6-10 ESV

Last week, I was with a group known as World Changers in Indiana, coordinating a missions project for about 230 people who came from nine different states to serve as volunteer construction workers.  The ministry is directed at elderly, low income homeowners, people who took pride in the house where they lived, but as their income dwindled in retirement, it became less of a priority than food and medical care, and they had to let some things go.  The look of joy on their faces as they see problems fixed by young, high school and college aged volunteers brings a sense of inner peace and joy like virtually nothing else can do.

Spending a week in close quarters with over 200 people, mostly high school and college students and their chaperones, is an interesting experience.  We "camped out" in a high school building, slept on air mattresses on the floor of classrooms, ate breakfast and dinner in the cafeteria, and used the locker room shower facilities.  We worshipped together each evening in the school auditorium.  We got to know each other quickly.  And I learned a lot. 

The students who come to these projects are the cream of the crop in their church youth group.  They are the ones whose faith is mature enough to lead them to an understanding of what it means to be Christian, and to follow the example of Jesus in serving others, as well as understanding what it means to have him as their savior.  The conversations with these students, and their youth leaders, lays out the reality that is faced by young Christians everywhere in the day and age in which we live, and that is the struggle they face each day not only to remain a faithful example for Christ among their peers, but also in avoiding having the things they've been taught in church and at home undermined by their educational experience.  Many of them are mature enough, and know enough about who they are in Christ, to recognize when what they are being taught in the classroom challenges what they know is truth from the scripture.

A lot of the students involved are enrolled in, and attend, Christian schools.  It stands to reason that, among the cream of the crop of a church youth group would be found students whose daily routine undergirds and supports the Biblical teachings of their church, and their parents.  That confirms the work of those teachers and school staff members in the Christian schools those students attended.  It is clearly worth the expense and the effort, and the sacrifice, to have your child in Christian school, and it is also pretty clear, from their response, that they are not being "shielded" from the real world, but that they are systematically being taught how to deal with it in a Biblical way.

Most of those who aren't involved in a Christian school have come to the conclusion that they wish they were.  They are looking for the extra support and confirmation of their faith, because they see how it is challenged, contradicted, and in some cases, outright opposed, on a daily basis.  There's a difference, they say, even in the way they are treated by their classroom teachers.  Of course, there are caring teachers in every school, some of them Christians.  But for the most part, what students tell me is that they have teachers who do not share their Christian faith or values. And for them, going to school each day requires a strong prayer life, as well as a lot of Bible study to help them gain perspective and stay committed.

More often than not, high school students are confused and then convinced that education and science are separate from something "subjective" like religious beliefs.  No wonder 80% of those who are active in their church youth group while they are in high school drop out of the church altogether before they graduate from college.  And most of them don't come back.

That's why it is extremely important for us, as a Christian educational institution, to make sure that we not only provide a distinctively Christian environment for our students as they attend school, but to teach them to stand up for what they believe, and prepare them to face the challenge of the "real world" when they encounter it, armed with truth.  That's why every sacrifice required for your kids to be here is worth it.