Is your Christian school really “Christian”?
I am not referring to the insertion of “Christian” in the name of the school; I am alluding to the spirit of your school and the product that is being produced. North Valley Baptist Church voted 32 years ago to start a Christian school with the sole purpose of training young people for full-time Christian service. Our purpose does not make us a glorified Sunday school; rather, it challenges us to deliver a solid education to our students because there is no higher calling than His calling.
So, what sets a good Christian school apart? It is not just the teacher or just the students; it is the philosophy of the school and the course that school is taking. At our Christian Educators’ Seminar in January, I spoke on the topic of improving your school spiritually. Below I would like to share some of the content of that session.
- Your school must be Christ-centered. (Colossians 1:18) Once again, this cannot be true in name only; it must be true in deed. Is it evident by simply walking the halls and watching the students that your school is Christian – not the decorations or even the dress, but the prevailing spirit? When Christ is present, there is a joy that the unsaved cannot explain. Your school’s philosophy, as well as your staff’s, must be Christ-centered.
- Do you call on Him daily? I realize that a day in the life of an assiduous educator is very busy; however, that is no excuse to forego prayer for your students. I do believe that every class should begin with prayer. This practice sends a good message to the students. But praying before class can very easily become routine and lacking in power if we are not careful. Whether in the morning or at night, praying for your students and for wisdom to get through to them is vital. When a student knows you care, he is more apt to listen to what you are saying. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).” One of the reasons we lack “great and mighty things” in our Christian schools is because we are not calling on the Lord. Perhaps there is a student in your class today that God is going to use to turn our nation to Him. All God is waiting for is for you to call on Him.
- Are you distant from your students, or do you truly care for them? (Matthew 22:39) You may be a great teacher. You may know your subjects very well. You may be the most knowledgeable teacher around. But if you cannot connect and relate to your students, you will never get through to them, and they will never see the love of God in you. What, teachers, do you favorably remember? For me, there were many; but for sake of illustration, a kindergarten teacher stands out in my mind. It was not the lessons she taught, but rather that she went out of her way to do something she was not required to do. I was sick at school one day and was sent to the nurse’s station to wait for my mom to pick me up. I remember my teacher checking in on me before I left school. I do not remember much, but she made some mention that “ginger ale” would make me feel better. Small and irrelevant, right? On the contrary, that little thing made me know that my teacher cared; in fact, her kindness to me made me want to be a better student for her. When a student knows you care, he is more apt to listen to what you are saying.
- “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease (Proverbs 22:10).” Nothing is more difficult than removing a student from school. One thing that all educators should have in common is the desire to transform lives – a desire that is strength and potential weakness wrapped in one. That desire is what makes us root for the underdog. That same desire is what can keep us from removing a student who really should be removed from school. A scorner is typically very subtle; the scorner knows how to say the right things, and he knows every rule in the book. But his heart and beliefs are contrary to your school and, more importantly, to the Word of God. This student causes discord among the students and even the teachers. This student will not change, but he will change others around him. For this reason, removal from school is necessary. (Proverbs 21:11)
- Every student should have a chorus in his heart. (Psalm 100:1, Colossians 3:16) A student’s attitude reveals what kind of music he is listening to when he is not at school. If the music is right, the heart is right. A good reflection of your student’s walk with God is how well (not referring here to ability) and how often they sing. We are blessed at North Valley to have students that love to sing and who do sing out. Too often, we underestimate the power music possesses. Martin Luther played an indispensable role in the Protestant Reformation. He was known for many things, but the Catholics believed that they were most hurt not by his teachings or his books, but rather by the songs he had written. The people carried the songs with them wherever they went.
- Perform a daily “countenance” check-up. (Proverbs 15:13) Do you notice when your students are happy or not? Look for signs on the faces of your students. This little exercise can give you a heads-up if a student appears to be having a problem, whether personal or academic. And checking helps show that you care. If a student continually has a sour look on his face, he may have a spiritual problem. Compare the countenances of your students to a group of unsaved students. There should be a difference! In addition, your school should be a place that students enjoy attending because they know they are loved. Laughter should be very common.
- Conviction development is imperative in every Christian school. (II Timothy 2:15) Our students should know what we believe. Telling is not teaching. More often than not, we tell our students what they should believe without giving them a reason, explanation, or the tools necessary to comprehend God’s Word. There is nothing to hide here – what we believe is based on the Word of God. We need to teach our students what the Bible says. But it is also our responsibility to teach them how to comprehend and how to keep things in context. With these tools, they can develop what they believe based on the Bible and not what someone else tells them they should believe.
When we get to heaven, we are going to give an account for all that God has entrusted to our care. Therefore, we would be wise to ask ourselves whether our school or classroom brings honor to the name of Christ. If we keep this question before us on a regular basis, it will undoubtedly affect the choices we make.