|Category||Christian School Education|
|Preview||Through spiritual formation, God continues His lifelong transformation of the whole person into Christlikeness by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.|
A son proudly told his father, "I know what the Bible means!" His father smiled. "Oh really? What does the Bible mean?" "It stands for 'Basic Information Before Leaving Earth!'"
At Briarwood Christian High School, our school mission is to help our students gain this "Basic Information Before Leaving Earth" through teaching from a Christ-centered, biblical worldview about subjects from the arts to zoology. We have purposely delivered this basic information to our students through biblically integrated instruction and supportive relationships to strengthen student spiritual formation.
Why use biblical integration? Biblical integration correlates a subject (general revelation) and biblical concept (special revelation) by scriptural evaluation into a coherent, complete, and compelling view of reality. This process requires that students see truth in relation to God, who created it, sustains it, and imparts all its properties, designs, and relations (Colossians 1:15-17). Because God is truth (John 14:6), students comprehend that truth is absolute and knowable, and truth and knowledge come from Him. Without this connection, truth becomes subjective, no longer knowable in the same absolute sense. Thus, integrating faith and learning instructs and transforms the students' understanding of God's world by His Word.
Why do students desperately need this integration today?
Through spiritual formation, God continues His lifelong transformation of the whole person into Christlikeness by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, through the means of grace-prayer, sacraments, and ministry of God's Word- and in authentic Christian community. Biblical and spiritual integration are essential in this sanctification.
In A Christian Paideia (2005), D. Bruce Lockerbie contends:
Those of us who are called Christians find the call to integration spelled out clearly in Holy Scripture. We are summoned to wholeness first, by knowing who God is and loving Him as Lord. We are commanded to love with our whole being: heart, soul, strength, and mind. In doing so, we learn both how to appreciate our own gift of life and also what it means to love others as ourselves. The same principle holds for the educational principle called integration. It must begin within.
How does biblical integration impact the student's spiritual formation?
How have we fostered spiritual formation through integration and relationships?
Biblical integration is a key part of our teachers' practice, planning, and process. Consistently, teachers write biblically integrated concepts into their subject area and incorporate them into their unit planning and teaching. As learners (disciples), students are taught to integrate through scriptural reflection, testing, and judgment, and to apply their results to their life context.
Briarwood teachers have worked diligently to make their classes more interactive and to encourage participation in them. Creating more life-on-life engagement seemed the obvious next step for advancing student spiritual formation. Our recent ACSI and AdvancED accreditation agreed and recommended that we enhance spiritual formation through discipleship-oriented relationships.
Briarwood administrators immediately set three goals for students. All students would:
GAP groups are the primary means through which the above goals are accomplished. Groups are led by faculty and staff and consist of 10 students. Groups are gender- and grade-specific. Groups meet weekly after chapel, discuss the topics presented, and pray together. Members meet at other times for fellowship and fun. Groups are part of a larger, grade-level neighborhood, where faculty leaders regularly pray, plan, and discuss student needs and involvements. To promote connections, faculty members in neighborhoods volunteer to be present at student events. In addition, all faculty have invited students to read a selected book over the summer and discuss it in their fall book club.
Finally, students annually take a spiritual character formation survey. This audit assesses spiritual trends, growth, and needs in our students, and is evaluated by school staff.
Don Furuto, PhD, has taught for 11 years at Briarwood Christian High School in Birmingham, Alabama, and is the Bible Department Chairman. Previously he served as an Associate Pastor of Christian Education at Briarwood Presbyterian Church.
Lockerbie, D. Bruce. 2005. A Christian padeia: The habitual vision of greatness. Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications.