The formation of Christian education in the United States can be traced back to the earliest days of this country’s history. According to one source, “Early settlers in America, which included the Quakers, Mennonites, Presbyterians, Catholics, and Baptists educated their children in schools that were formed for the purposes of religious education. Over the years, many Christian colleges, universities, and private schools have emerged providing not just religious education, but also a diverse curriculum.”
The history of Christian education in America has featured a broad range of schooling opportunities. Some of the early immigrants to this country came here in pursuit of religious freedom and soon founded community schooling options for children, then for pre-adolescents and teenagers.
Not too long after the European settlers moved to what became the United States, their desire to continue Christian education to the college and university level came to fruition. In fact, many of the oldest and most prestigious universities in this country were originally founded to provide Christian education and even training for Christian ministry.
For centuries, Christians and Christian families have understood and appreciated the important values of Christian education.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6).
The Benefits of a Christian Education
There are at least five basic reasons why a Christian education at any level is so positive.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
1. Christian schools teach the Bible, and all the other academic subjects are integrated with biblical truth.
At the top of the list of advantages of Christian education is the commitment Christian schools make at all levels to teach the Word of God. Many Christian schools, from the elementary level on up, have specific classes or courses where biblical content and Bible doctrine are specifically and intentionally taught.
But perhaps the real strength of Christian education is that the Bible is integrated into every other academic subject. That way the students understand that the truth of God’s Word relates to every aspect of their lives.
2. Christian schools utilize Christian teachers, administrators, and staff members who supply positive role models for the students.
Another strength of Christian schools is that the teachers and other staff members are believers in Jesus Christ. This fact is an incredibly strong point of Christian education.
Students see their teachers, coaches, advisors, school administrators, and other adult staff members as role models who not only can teach the Bible and integrate biblical principles into what else the school is teaching but also who are role models and examples of living for Christ and visual aids of what it means to follow the instruction of His Word.
3. Christian schools are usually characterized by high involvement and support from parents and families.
A significant benefit of a Christian school is that the student’s parents and other family members are usually heavily invested in the overall success of the school.
Parents do not usually send their kids to a Christian school because it is provided by the government and is “free” education for their kids.
In most cases, parents and other family members will need to make a substantial financial investment to send their young people to Christian schools. That usually means that the entire family is making a personal commitment of their resources to be involved in Christian education.
4. Christian schools usually offer a positive Christian environment in academic pursuits and extra-curricular activities.
There are exceptions of course, but one of the most positive aspects of Christian education at any level is that the students there are immersed in a positive Christian atmosphere. Yes, there are many Christian schools, from the elementary level through the graduate level in universities, that allow unsaved, non-Christians to attend.
However, Christian schools are very concerned with the establishment of a positive, Christ-centered environment for their students. This happens not only in the classroom and during academic endeavors, but also during the school’s extra-curricular activities such as athletics, drama, music, and student government.
Being involved in Christian culture is obviously a positive thing because it creates a sense of positive peer pressure to live a godly lifestyle for students instead of being pressured into the sinful or harmful habits of the secular world.
5. Christian schools are usually characterized by high academic rigor because of accreditation.
Many, if not most Christian schools today at all levels are monitored by some type of accrediting agency that examines the educational quality of the school. These outside organizations are often national or even international in scope and have high academic standards to which the school must adhere.
These agencies usually check on the academic credentials of the administrators and teachers, the quality of the school’s curriculum and teaching resources, the school’s building, and classrooms, and even the financial health of the school.
Some of the accreditors are believers and represent Christian organizations, while others are secular in nature and are often regulated by the Federal government.
There is another level of examination that bears mention in today’s culture as well. It seems as if some Christian schools today are under greater inspection by the public at large, due to the prevalence of a negative, prejudicial opinion of Christian schools from secular educators, authorities, and the public in general.
This level of assessment from the public should motivate Christian schools to do their very best in all stages of their educational endeavors.
Why Does a Christian Education Matter?
Of course, there are also some negatives to Christian schools as well. Yes, it is expensive for parents and students alike to participate in Christian education. Some Christian schools at all levels of education struggle to have adequate facilities and programs.
Some parents can be accused of putting their children in Christian schools to keep them out of the evil, sinful setting of public education, and the students in Christian schools often do not have the exposure to the unsaved world that students in public education would have, and therefore do not develop a hunger to reach the lost for Christ or to have a public testimony of their faith in Christ.
Parents and students alike will need to decide if this decision to utilize Christian education is the will of God for them and if this education will prepare them for what God has for them in the future. There are both positive and negative characteristics of Christian education that will need to be prayerfully considered and evaluated based upon the lasting principles of the Word of God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching (Proverbs 1:7-8).
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Mel Walker is the president of Vision For Youth, Inc., an international network of youth ministry, and he is currently in the process of raising financial support to serve with VFY on a full-time basis. Mel has been actively involved in various aspects of youth ministry for over 45 years. He is also an author, speaker, and consultant with churches. Mel has written 13 books on various subjects relating to youth ministry. More information about his speaking and writing ministry can be found at www.YouthMinistryQuestions.com. Mel & Peggy Walker are the parents of 3 adult children—all of whom are in vocational ministry. You can follow him on Twitter: @vfyouth.
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