Friendships are a special part of everyone’s life. At church recently we had a good friend, who is a missionary to Mongolia, visit and present his ministry to our church. He and I talk often on the phone, but this was the first time in about 2 years that he and I had gotten to see each other face to face. While I wish that he and I could have had more time to talk, the time we did have was very refreshing. I could babble on about everything that we talked about, but since I like to keep this blog as an encouragement to those of us who have children in public school I will only mention the encouragement that I had gotten from him concerning my children attending public school.
We first talked about how Christians have missed out on a great opportunity to reach people within the public school system. Back in the early 60’s there was a huge push for Christians to exit the public school system because of the removal of School Prayer (That was prayer over the intercom before the start of the school day). Their cry was that the public schools were a lost cause because of that removal and that the only way that America would be saved was the establishment of Christian Schools and homeschooling. Looking now at 51 years since this has happened we could honestly say to one another, that the establishment of freedoms to have Christian Schools and Homeschooling has done very little to win our country to Christ. We see America becoming less and less Christian every day. Am I saying to abandon Christian schools and homeschooling and put all Christian children back into the Public School? No, not every Christian is called into a public school setting. During the course of this discussion we came to realize a few things.
1) Public School Isn’t for Every Family
I appreciated this friends support for me and the direction the Lord had given us. While he himself said he wouldn’t feel comfortable sending his child to public school (and being a missionary on deputation anyways it wouldn’t be practical), he did not criticize me for the choice we had made as a family. In fact he praised the Lord to know that there would be yet another Christian influence in our public schools reaching out to people who may other wise never have a Christian to influence their lives.
2) No Schooling Choice is Perfect
He and I both were part of the same homeschooling group as teenagers. We had gone through much of our middle school and high school years together. My friend is 3 years younger than me, but we still had developed a friendship that has lasted for many years. But looking back at our homeschooling group, there were very few people that we could find that continued loving and serving God when they entered adulthood (that is not to puff us up or make us look like saintly figures, but to give reality that just because you’re homeschooled doesn’t give you a better chance to turn out for God). In fact a startling statistic I shared with him, is that in the last 6 years of being a youth pastor I have seen very little no difference between the percentage of teenagers who go to Public School vs. Christian School/Homeschool that continue serving the Lord after they finish high school. In fact if anything the percentage would lean a little higher on the side of public school students.
3) The Problem Isn’t the Schools, It’s the Parents
In the end the responsibility of children falls squarely on the shoulders of the parents. Now this isn’t to say that the schools could have a possible influence on a child, but I strongly believe if parents would be more involved with their children’s lives and schools, that the possibility of that influence will diminish greatly.
I can remember my dad approaching me one time before the school year started, he warned me to stay away from certain people who went to the same school that I went to, he said “Aaron these people are people who I do not want to be your friends because they will hurt you spiritually. But Aaron here are some people who you really should try to have as friends”. When my dad told me that it was in an environment that was completely “Christian”, a Christian School, a school with only students from one church. My mom and dad stayed engaged with me as a student growing up, even in a Christian school.
The major reason many Christians will fail to continue serving God both while they are in school and after they graduate is because after they started school parents completely let go of their children and will not get involved in the education of their children. Before you say, “well homeschooling fixes that problem because parents have to be involved then”, I can attest to the fact that many of those who homeschool their children, do just as little in the way of educating them in the ways of the Lord as parents who send their children to public schools and Christian schools. If you didn’t get it before, I will state it again, as a youth pastor I have seen that there is little to no difference between the percentage of teenagers who go to Public School vs. Christian School/Homeschool that continue serving the Lord after they finish high school. In fact if anything the percentage would lean a little higher on the side of public school students.