Why no, we're not a "home-schooling church"...2
"So, are you a 'home-schooling church'"?
But thank you for asking. Or not asking. Or assuming. Or any of the other myriad of responses people have when this topic hits the floor. One thing is for certain, when you bring up a topic that involves people's children, people will have opinions. As well they should. When you bring up a topic where education and culture collide, there will be opinions.
When you bring up a topic that fuses people's kids AND culture, opinions are plentiful. And certain terms elicit even more opinions. And some people make their career by being a part of the educational system (thank you by the way), so when you bring up the means in which we make a living, even more opinions.
Just to bring up how Switzerland I am on this issue, let me give you my background. I have taught bible studies in public schools for years. I taught at a private Christian School. My kids are currently being homeschooled. To add to my odd mix, my kids started off in public school, have been homeschooled over the last couple of years and now we are going to have one kid in public school and two homeschooled for this current school year.
So, I am just enough of a mutt to ensure that all sides who are passionate on these issues are equally displeased and if that's not enough, I am turning off spell check on this blog to annoy anyone who did not disapprove of our approach.
Amongst our elders, we have two families who home schooled their kids. One family that used a combo of private Christian education and public school. One family who exclusively used public school and who was, and still remains deeply involved in their local public school system. Add in the deacons and we have some who work in public school education (more if you include their spouses), and most of them have had their kids go through public school. We have an intern who went to public school and now goes to Christian college. Pretty sure that covers every single base.
Yet somehow we all love each other and refrain from judging one another's decisions AND even support one another along the way.
So, as we begin to open up our church building for some families to use for home-school education, I want to share some thoughts, preempitvely, before weird thoughts begin to even have a chance to formulate:
1. "So, are you a home-school church?" Honestly, I don't even know what that question means. If it means "do you feel like people who home-school are right and people who do not are wrong" then NO. We are not. If it means "Are you judging my decisions if I (home-school, private school, public school), NO we do not. If it means "Are you those weird culty children-of-the-corn-people where everyone speaks King James language and cut your kids hair with a Flo-Bee", well, then maybe... just kidding. Nope. Not into that either.
2. "Are you saying that you are anti public school?" NOPE. Unless you hear us say that, then assume that we are not saying that. That is a good principle for life in general. There is this weird thing that exists in the church that makes people feel that "To be for X" means that "You must be against Y". Why do people think that way? We are for youth ministry. Does that mean that we hate multi generational approaches to ministry? Nope. I have been classically educated for ministry. Does this mean that we are against those who have been educated and raised up within the church. Nope. So, why pit things against each other that do not need to be pit against each other? That is more of an evidence of our sinful nature than being a community of grace and truth.
3. "Isn't homeschooling antithetical to missional living?" Ahh, this is likely where the rubber meets the road. Rather than taking time unpacking it, lets just point out the obvious flaw in the logic. "Does sending your kids to public school assume that your kids will live as missionaries?" That's it. Intentionality comes down too...drum roll please....intentionality. People who are intentional in their homes to live like missionaries are training their kids to view the world through the lenses as missionaries. I know home school families who have some of the most missional families I've ever seen. I know public school families who profess Christ and have never given thought to seeing the school as a missionfield or training their children to see it as one. And I know people that the opposite is true in both cases. So, it's not the mechanism, it...
4. "Comes down to what is being taught and lived out in the home" If you are sold out and committed to Christ and send your kids to public school and regularly unpack what they are learning and who they are spending time with and the messages that are being communicated to them both verbally and non-verbally, praise God! If you are home-schooling and training your kids to have a world-view that will be able to make sense of taking the world they see and fitting it into a biblical grid, then praise God! That's good parenting. And guess what. There are great homeschooling parents and great public school parents and we are overjoyed to have both in our church. There are also folks who claim the name of Christ who spend very little time reviewing what is forming their children's world view and that does not change simply based on where they recieve their education.
5. "Are we going to be pressured to educate our children one way or another". NOPE. Not much to say on that one aside from, if you are being pressured, that is not coming from the elders and we'd be happy to help tell the person doing the pressuring to knock it off because they are obnoxious and nobody wants an obnoxious person telling them what to do. However, sometimes the people that I learn from the most are the people that introduce the thoughts that I am least familiar with. So, even if you are entrenched, there is value in being an informed listener. But, if someone is being obnoxious, by all mean, graciously tell them to take their agenda elsewhere.
6. "Whatever decision you make, it is worthy of TONS of prayer and consideration" That's our stance. If you are going into public school, do it with eyes wide open and with the tools to help cultivate a biblical world view. If you are doing home-school, do it with the spirit of understanding that you will never fully shield your children from the world and that they are still called to live as missionaries, not separatists. Those are just two of two million tensions that I could bring up. But families who pray and really seek Jesus on these thoughts AND continually reengage big decisions in prayer while seeking counsel from God's Word and the fellowship of His saints tend to make biblically informed decisions.
...Even if they look different than someone else's decisions.
This blog is not an attempt to tackle all of the issues surrounding this important topic. There is no book, blog or podcast that can possibly cover all of that because there is no book, blog or podcast that is able to take the place of thinking and praying together as a family. Even for us, each year we revisit the issue in prayer with fresh lenses, praying not only over the options but praying individually over each of our children as part of "training up a child in the way that they should go". This blog is merely an attempt to put some healthy framework around a discussion that is a valuable part of raising families together in a church community and to encourage that wherever each of us land, to do so with prayerfulness, thoughtfulness, intentionality and a sense of conviction- and then to pray for and support your brothers and sisters in the church who make decisions that look very much the same as yours or very much different.
*All spelling and grammatical errors remain in tact so that you may judge the educational decisions made by the author's parents.
For further study on the matter, listen below to a podcast from The Village Church, a sister church in our network, as they have a panel of church members coming from public school, private school and homeschool approaches and graciously engage in a helpful discussion