Thursday, February 13, 2014

Christian Parents Be Encouraged…Public Schools are Alright

Some people may not know this, but within the world known as Evangelical Christianity (aka “Bible Thumpers”) there is a quiet battle for the hearts and minds of parents & children.  The war I am talking about deals with educating your child.  I am late to this battle, being an older parent of a kindergarten student, but I have friends who have had this battle raging for years whenever they walk into their church for service or another event.  It all centers on the following question...

Should a Christian send their child to public schools?

or in another way...

Should Christians only homeschool or send their children to Christian schools?

Parents have felt “politely rebuked” for sending their child off to public schools.  Some have felt shamed by their choice or have been addressed as if the homeschooling/Christian ed. parent is to be praised and that the public school parent should do some more soul searching for the choice they made. And some Evangelical parents cannot financially afford either of these two options.  They should not be criticized for that. Sending your child to public school is not a sin.  

(I’m not sure if homeschooling/Christian school pastors/parents would realize that is what they are doing or that public school parents are receiving that vibe from them).

Full disclosure, I am a public school teacher.  I have also been a Christian school teacher, a Sunday School teacher, and a youth pastor/leader, so I have experiences with students in all three worlds (I have never homeschooled as formal schooling).  However, as my friends can attest, I would NOT send my kids to a public school if I did not believe it was a good option (and I have offered that choice to my wife if she would like to run with it).  

I have been told that I “march to the beat of a different drummer” on more than one occasion (lots more) so please do not assume I am sending my child to public school because I feel some sense of professional loyalty.

I am NOT writing this to attack parents who have chosen to homeschool or send their children to Christian schools.  That is your choice as a parent, and you should be commended for the thought behind your decision and the hard work that you must do to make it happen.

I am writing today to ENCOURAGE public school parents


1) There is no Biblical mandate to homeschool or send your child to a Christian school.  Your mandate is to raise your child in the ways of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Proverbs 22:7, Ephesians 6:4).  If you’re going to question yourself about something, ask yourself, am I spending time talking about God and the Bible with my child. Even better, am I displaying in my actions with my child, spouse, and others, Christ-like behavior.  

Even a parent who is homeschooling or sending to their child to a Christian school, who is not living out their faith daily in Christ, will not see any effect on their child’s life.

2) You also are displaying faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to protect your child in school, and that’s not a bad thing. 

You should be commended for that in your churches, not criticized.

Pray for your child’s day in school.  Continue trusting the school to educate your child in the “3 R’s”, as you trust in the God of the universe to guide them through the day in classrooms and down the halls.

3) The friends your child makes are going to be an influence, that is true.  Some of the friends your child makes will encourage them to make bad choices.  However, I have seen enough Christian school and homeschool kids in my life to say that these parents have the same struggles as public school parents.  Even with restrictions and barriers created to prevent bad choices in the homeschool or Christian school world, I can present children who have still went wayward in those settings.  

Every parent fears that our children will make bad choices, but we all need to be faithful in our Biblical instruction of our children and have faith in the power of the One who has overcome the world.

Why do we always think in the negative?  "A man with God is always in the majority."  Our children could be the positive influence a friend needs.  Maybe God will use our child to convince someone else's child not to make a tragic choice.

Don’t retreat from being involved in your community, advance! 

As Jesus said

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Don’t stop at the school’s doors, get your child involved in youth leagues and programs that the town offers.

There is a need for all of us, including our children, to be in the company of like minded people, to be within the community life of our church.  We all need the refreshing of being in the company of other believers and to turn our attention to God.  That is the purpose of church.

But we have created so many alternatives, Christian sports leagues, Christian Boys and Girls Scouts, and other Christian groups that we have expanded the idea of the "church" into something that more resembles a monastery.

Our children can go their whole childhood without really knowing children outside their church even when they go to public schools.  I want to avoid that.

When is the best time to send your child off to “engage the world”, when they are young and you can offer the most advice and have the most influence, or when they are an adult and you have little to nil opportunities to provide either.

4) Are you invested in the life of your child’s school?  DO NOT push off your child’s education to the public schools without  involvement.  You have some work to do. Do you volunteer time?  Do you attend parent teaching conferences?  I went in this year to my daughter’s kindergarten class as the “secret reader” and had a blast.  I asked questions at my daughter’s parent/teacher conference.  

Get active, its your child that God has entrusted to you.

And I am convinced if that we as Christian parents continually join “holy huddles” instead of involvement, we have no right criticizing the caricature that the media creates about Evangelicals.

Just two concluding thoughts

1. Remember Daniel, who went to public schools in Babylon.  His upbringing by his parents and the work of God in his life protected him.

2. Let me tell you the story of Christine, who had Evangelical parents who placed her in a public school in Salem, Oregon when they moved in the middle of her junior year.  Starting a new school is tough, but especially starting mid-year. Not knowing anybody, God placed into her life another girl whose parents had just moved her from the East Coast to the West.  Being in the same boat, and many of the same classes, they struck up a friendship.  Christine took her faith seriously and was not ashamed of it, so she invited her new friend out to church and also to her church’s youth group.  In the course of spending time with Christine, her family, and her church, the friend was encouraged to be serious about her faith in Jesus and make that a priority in her life, that continued when they went to different colleges , and can still be found in her today.

The new friend Christine made is my wife.

Thank God for Christian parents who send their kids to public schools!


  1. As a parent of 27 years and a Christian for longer than that, I have used all three of these options for my twelve children. I appreciate your sharing this information because I think there is a lot of guilt and misunderstanding surrounding the issue of education. It has taken me years to feel comfortable with my choice of using the public schools. I think God has really blessed this decision and we pray that we can use our presence there as a light to our neighbors.

  2. Sharon, thanks for your kind words, but more for your own testimony. I browsed through your own blog and tears came to my eyes as I read the stories of your kids. Praise God for your family and thanks for sharing your experiences.