Category CSC Archive
Title 47.4 World-class: Desirable or Dangerous?
Author/s Dr. Barrett Mosbacker
Preview A kingdom-class school transforms the lives of its students and glorifies God through its commitment to excellence. A kingdom-class education includes the quality measures that constitute a world-class program, but deepens them to include a biblical worldview.
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Good parents tend to be picky when it comes to their children's schooling-as well they should be. Our kids deserve a world-class education. Butwhat does that look like in a Christian school? I've invited Dr. Barrett Mosbacker, head of Briarwood Christian School (Birmingham, AL), to write atwo-part series on world-class Christian education. I think you'll find his ideas insightful. —Dan Egeler


I vividly remember looking into the eyes of my infant daughters after bringing them home from the hospital. Innocent, beautiful children-full of potential. I knew instantly that I would give my life for them, and I wanted the best for them: spiritually, physically, relationally, and even educationally. So deep was my commitment to my daughters' education that, in God's providence, I left my corporate career to start a Christian school.

But what is "the best" when it comes to the education of one's children? What does "the best" look like? Is seeking the best even a biblical value?

I encounter two recurring objections when I advocate for worldclass excellence in Christian schools. One is the fear that excellence will lead to elitism. The second is that the term world-class really means "worldly."

Excellence and elitism are not synonymous, nor does the passionate pursuit of excellence automatically lead to elitism. And a Christian school can be world-class without compromising its commitment to God's Word and to Christ. Part of our struggle arises from imprecise definitions.

Elitism is snobbishness: being condescending, pretentious, and stuck-up. This is antithetical to biblical attitudes and behaviors: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Excellence, on the other hand, is defined as a distinction in quality, caliber, and mastery; it means being the best in class. I may, for example, seek out a world-class cardiologist if I need heart surgery. No one I know would seek out a well-meaning but average heart surgeon! If I have to choose between a world-class atheist cardiologist and an average Christian cardiologist when I go under the knife, give me the atheist. If I survive, I'll witness to him or her!

Seeking a world-class cardiologist is not elitist or worldly; it is responsible and smart. A world-class cardiologist has worked hard to become proficient at saving lives-an important responsibility! This is a noble goal, something to be commended and encouraged.

I can think of no more important responsibility than educating the hearts and minds of our children. In such a crucial calling, mediocrity simply will not do; it is unworthy of the task and unworthy of Christ.

However, while defining excellence in terms of being world-class is not inherently wrong or inaccurate, it is too narrow. In seeking a more biblical and descriptive definition of excellence for our children's school, I use the term kingdom-class: a school that is among the best in the world because of the quality and impact of its programs. It sets a standard of educational quality and innovation worth emulating-by non-Christian and Christian educators alike.

The students of a kingdom-class school are equipped for college and a career in a competitive world. They are prepared to use their Godgiven gifts in fulfilling both the Creation Mandate and the Great Commission.

A kingdom-class school transforms the lives of its students and glorifies God through its commitment to excellence. A kingdom-class education includes the quality measures that constitute a world-class program, but deepens them to include a biblical worldview. It educates both the mind and the soul and seeks to glorify God, not man, so that we obey Jesus' command to "Let your light shine before others" (Matthew 5:16).

So should we strive for our children's Christian school to be kingdom-class? The answer for some will be an obvious and emphatic "Yes," but it is not so clear-cut for everyone. Our response to this question strikes at the core of our responsibility as parents and the mission of Christian schools. 

I believe we should strive to be kingdom-class, and in the second part of this series I will outline the distinguishing features of a kingdom-class school.

Dr. Barrett Mosbacker
Head of Briarwood Christian School 

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