I often get asked what families should look for when selecting a school for their child. Without mentioning specific schools, I always stress to parents to exercise a preference for a Christian school. Here are 4 reasons why I think a Christian school beats all others most of the time:
- Distinctively Christian community.
School, like church, like work, is essentially community. Where children’s education is concerned, it is a great comfort to know that they will have opportunity to make friends with other children who share their faith in the broader school community, and to know that there are families in the school who attach the same importance to Christian convictions and lifestyle. Some Christian schools do not have a requirement that parents attend a church, they nevertheless often prominently publicise their statement of belief, thus ensuring that essentially like-minded applicants are drawn to the school.
- Great adult Christian role-models.
For my own children, I cannot express in words my gratitude for the example of Godly conduct and Christ-devotion that they’ve received from their teachers. I realise that this is not something that can be bought with money, and it has an undeniably profound impact on young students. At Christian schools, teachers are the ‘living curriculum’ because they model authentic Christian lifestyle to their students every day. Not all Christian schools have a requirement that teachers should be able to articulate a living faith in The Lord Jesus Christ, but if the Christian character of the school is clearly established, then like-minded teachers will be attracted to that school.
- Uniquely Christian practices, programmes and disciplines.
Christian schools that habitually practice Bible teaching, prayer, worship and service demonstrate to students that we do not have a dualistic existence with one set of norms for Sundays and another for the other days of the week. As a result, the students’ Christian lifestyle begins to develop a sincerity and consistency rather than simply ritualistic significance.
- Biblically integrated lessons.
In a country like ours, curriculum is prescribed by government, and while some Christian circles decry this as a great evil, remember St Augustine, who says “Let every good and true Christian understand that whatever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master.” For the Christian school, nothing will be taught without first working it through the lens of a Biblical Worldview. Regardless of the ‘world’s’ content, Christian students must be taught to filter that
content through Biblical criteria to discern whether or not it is to be rejected, accepted, or transformed – this is called Biblical Integration. While some Christian schools prefer to shield children completely from certain content, others believe that it is of much greater value to expose students at age-appropriate levels to the ‘world’s’ content and then guide them through the discernment process.
Finally, a word of caution. Every Christian school, despite their best intentions, is still made up of frail and imperfect people, and will occasionally fail to meet their stated expectations. This is the nature of Christian community, and at those times, all of us need to make every effort to strive for unity and display a committed resolve to honour Jesus in every circumstance.