Bad Reasons to Choose a Christian School, Part One
by Jim Barnes, Dean of Students & Spiritual Life
I’ve been involved in Christian education for 35 years now. That’s unusual considering I’m only 40.
I attended a Christian school in South Carolina, taught at a Christian school in Florida, sent my kids to Christian school their entire lives, was the pastor of a Christian school in South Carolina (same one I grew up in), and currently serve as an administrator of Tacoma Baptist Schools.
In other words, I’ve seen a lot.
There are really good reasons to put your child in a Christian school. When Christian schools are well staffed by academically-gifted Jesus-followers and when they are committed to excellence and discipleship, they become special models of education that can’t be duplicated elsewhere.
But there are also bad reasons to choose Christian education.
I’ve seen parents choose Christian education for very unchristian reasons, and the results can be detrimental to their experience and to the whole school community.
Let me start with a common one.
Bad Reason #1 - The Bubble Philosophy
Some parents choose a Christian school because their goal is to keep sin away from their child by keeping them away from sinners.
“I just don’t want those public school kids to rub off on them,” some parents think. “This nice, Christian school might just be the spiritual bubble we’ve been looking for to maintain their innocence and distance from the bad kids.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Like most parents, I’m all for avoiding my kids being thrown headlong into an environment of pure paganism. I think every parent (Christian or not) wants to shelter their children from evil as much as possible.
But there are major problems with the bubble philosophy. Allow me to mention one.
First, the bubble philosophy is built on the faulty assumption that sin is a disease that is externally contracted.
The lie we often believe is that if we keep our kids away from sin then they won’t sin.
You may recall that Jesus had to dispel this same myth with a group called the Pharisees (Matt. 15:11-20). They were trying to stay spiritually clean by staying physically clean. They were trying to cure their sin by washing their hands.
It’s like prescribing a shower to someone with diabetes. It just doesn’t work.
So Jesus had to explain that sin isn’t communicable. It’s genetic.
It’s not a cold, it’s a cancer.
So find the tightest, cleanest bubble you can. Put your child in a Christian school, take them to the most conservative church, take away their access to YouTube and SnapChat, and only allow them to have friends on your approval list. Build your own personal monastery of rigid, scheduled spiritualism.
Guess what’s still inside your bubble?
Why? Because you and your child are carrying the disease inside you.
And guess what happens when a bunch of Christian kids come together at a Christian school?
It’s bound to happen because it’s bound inside us.
After 35 years of being in Christian education, I have yet to see any Christian school that isn’t dealing with sin on a daily basis. But I’m surprised by how many parents are surprised when they uncover that sin exists on the campus of a Christian school.
The distinction of a Christian school is not sinlessness but the ability to name sin as it is and model repentance and faith in Jesus for forgiveness.
And you won’t get that at a public school.
I pray that Tacoma Baptist Schools is never shocked when we see students sinning. How could we be shocked when we, too, are Adam’s children, infused with the same disease?
But we are charged with the responsibility of mentoring students to own up to their sin, find forgiveness, and live in the freedom offered through Jesus.
That’s a better reason to choose Christian education.
Thank you! Very well put. Something for all of us to be reminded of.
Love this article so much. I saw so much of the “shocked” parents growing up there when something sinful happened. TBS is a special place. Love this school!
Is there a Part Two? I loved this article and was hoping there would be more!
Hi Carmen! There will be a Part Two - watch for it towards the end of March. :-) Glad you're here!