Category Christian School Comment
Title 35.1 Effective Christian Schooling
Author/s Ken Smitherman
Preview I never want to miss an opportunity to commend families for the significant commitment that you make when you choose Christian schooling. Your choice is about investing in your most valuable possession-the children that God has entrusted into your care.
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Effective Christian Schooling

I never want to miss an opportunity to commend families for the significant commitment that you make when you choose Christian schooling. Your choice is about investing in your most valuable possession-the children that God has entrusted into your care.

There was a time when Christian schooling was viewed as a refuge from a rapidly changing and scary world. Clearly, there are appropriate times to seek refuge and times to run from something. I suggest, however, that the issue of education should be less about seeking refuge and more about seeking ways to impact our rapidly changing and scary world. God has called schools in the Christian school movement to engage in teaching and learning processes that are intellectually stimulating and spiritually transforming, to offer an education that exploits the opportunity to teach and nurture from a Christian perspective.

I further suggest that just as Christian schooling should not be about running or hiding from the world, it should be about running toward Truth, engaging and embracing it. For Christian schooling is about pursuing a real understanding of salt and light, and about being transformed by the renewing of the mind. It is about developing young minds into fruitful bearers of the image of Christ in a world gone bland for lack of salt, staggering in darkness since the light has been all but snuffed out.

Christian schooling is about helping families bring to fruition the intellectual and spiritual potential that God has bestowed upon our children. Dr. Richard Riesen, a Christian school administrator in Los Angeles and a profound thinker and writer, says in his book Piety and Philosophy: "As education improves men and women and their condition, so, in my view, does education cultivate in them the image of God. And while this may be difficult to show, it is just as obviously true, even in a common sense way. The reason we educate is not simply that those educated will earn a better living or 'have a better life.' It is rather that in ways not always easy to articulate they will become more fully what they were created to be-will have the capacity to deduce, analyze, synthesize, criticize, theorize, hypothesize, organize, conceptualize, articulate, introspect-will learn to exercise those gifts essentially and uniquely human. It is the glory of man that he thinks-and thinks about his thinking. After his abilities to worship and to love, his ability to think-to ratiocinate-is perhaps the best evidence of his having been created in the image of God" (Phoenix, Arizona: ACW Press, 2002).

With this wonderful gift from God, the gift of thinking, the effective Christian school is an invigorating place where that thinking can be nurtured and developed in order to produce students who are well prepared in all academic disciplines-who are skilled in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; are proficient in mathematics and science; have knowledge and understanding of people, events, and movements in history (including church history and the cultures of other peoples and places); and appreciate literature and the arts as well as understand how the arts both express and shape their beliefs and values. Beyond academics, effective Christian schools intend to develop young men and women who heed God's call to the Great Commission both locally and around the world. Whether they enter such fields as commerce, science, and medicine or the arenas of direct evangelism, education, or church planting, they will serve with a spirit of love and cultural sensitivity.

The aim is to prepare young people who understand the worth of every human being as created in the image of God and who can articulate and defend their Christian worldview while having a basic understanding of opposing worldviews. The expectation is to develop young men and women who value intellectual inquiry and are engaged in the marketplace of ideas while being actively involved in a church community, serving God and others.

What you have chosen for your children is most worthy. You have chosen a place focused on teaching in order to produce learning that will "cultivate in them the image of God." 

Ken Smitherman, President Association of Christian Schools International

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