Some forty years ago some slightly older friends had their children in a tiny, independent, “Christian school” with about twenty other young grade-schoolers. Jill and I, with three little children ourselves at the time, thought our friends were crazy. We naively were just beginning the unquestioned, twelve-year public school journey with Adam, Jason and Ramah, just following the Christian culture around us, because “that’s what everyone does.” We never even thought about anything else. The only alternative to government schools we had ever heard of were large, institutional Catholic ones, with all the same trappings as public school but with religious instruction along with the reading, writing and arithmetic.
Some paradigm shifts in the way we view the world around us take a lifetime; others overtake and envelop us quickly. Only five years after observing our friend’s bizarre, unconventional education of their children, I found myself at a pastor’s luncheon with about a dozen pastors. The topic of discussion was alternative, Christian education. With memories of my discovery of my friends’ educational strategy several years earlier, I found myself listening to the discussion with keen interest.
There were two pastors doing most of the talking, with diametrically opposing views. One pastor was bemoaning the withdrawal of Christian families from the public school system. He had served on his district’s school board and had witnessed the decline of the quality of the schools in his district over the past few years as the stream of children from Christian families exiting the public schools had increased. As I soon realized, my older friends were pioneers.
As the discussion continued, I felt they both had good cases. I was like an extremely interested spectator at a tennis match, turning my head back and forth from one speaker to the other to watch and listen as each pastor scored what I felt were excellent points. Finally the pro-public school pastor said, “If all the Christians leave, the public schools will ultimately fall apart.”
As I turned my head back to the pro-Christian education pastor, I was thinking, “That is a great point. What do you say about that?” Looking back, I realize that His answer was one of those rare, seminal moments in my life that changed its course forever:
“I don’t want to save the public schools. God never ordained that the government should be involved in education. That is not in its sphere of authority. Biblically, education of children is ultimately the responsibility of the father in the family and no one else!”
The lights came on and I saw it. From that moment on, public school was no longer an option for the Andrews family. I did not understand fully what had just happened until years later, but I can see now that my foundational vision for education as a part of the kingdom of God, as we have discussed in these postings, was laid at that time.
My ministry of communicating our calling to join with our Heavenly Father in His “family business,” which includes education, began to develop on that day. Beginning with that pastor’s luncheon, I have grown to realize that the kingdom of God, its discrete jurisdictions and its authority limits, is the lens through which all of life is viewed.
My good friend, Christian Overman, has a ministry called WorldviewMatters (www.biblicalworldview.com), reflecting the kingdom message that you read on this blog, particularly in the area of the marketplace and education. He recently published an animated 8-minute video that summarizes concisely, logically and creatively the message of the kingdom in very easily understood terms. I think it is a must-see if you have children or an interest in the ideas we have been discussing, Click on the “Read More” link to take you there.