Hi @dennis , I’m so glad you asked this question as it’s one close to my heart.
I feel like there’s both a yes and no answer to your question.
I taught in a Christian school for 5 years, and I’m now leading a Christian home school group with a vision to set up a school for teenagers. How I would love to provide it all for free! I don’t know how Christian schools run elsewhere in the world, but here in the uk, anyone who teaches in them does so for the love of the job, not for a great income. It’s usually a great financial sacrifice both for parents to send their children and for staff to work in them.
‘Education that cares for the child’s soul’ shouldn’t have a monetary value, should it? However there are the practical costs to running something like this. If a school tries not to spend out on resources, they’ll have a Christian character, but a poor quality education. Christian education shouldn’t be synonymous with poor quality education but it is seen as such sometimes. That’s why many schools want to provide an excellent education that equips for the outside world as well as a biblical one. It’s a great moral tension for many Christian educators. Here, there are ways to get government funding for free schools that hold a type of Christian education, but the compromises to curriculum content as dictated by the state seem an even greater cost to many parents and teachers than the monetary one. I guess we’re not measuring the cost only in money here. For many parents who either choose to send their kids to a Christian school or to home educate, it’s out of a response to scripture like Deuteronomy 6:7
7 And you shall teach them diligently to your children and speak of them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
How can this be achieved outside of a Christian school? For many, the only way to do this is to make the whole education Bible based, rather than having to undo all the secular based education that kids might receive in secular school. For many, this is worth any cost, financial or otherwise.
Many of the uk’s Christian schools are in cities with broad social backgrounds. I taught many children who come from more deprived backgrounds that the school was able to provide for through bursaries. This can’t be done for everyone, and then that raises the issue of the families who scrimp and save, who can barely afford it, and go without in other areas just to send their children. It doesn’t seem fair.
Is this question referring to whether parents should have more faith in sending their children to these schools, that God will provide for their financial needs? Sometimes this might be so, but not always. Many parents do send their kids in faith that God will provide what they need. What about the family whose parents don’t have much faith for it. Should the child go without because of this? Another difficult question to consider. With our project, we can barely afford to send our own kids, yet we believe so strongly that this is the education we want for them that we’re having to step out in faith for it. Some days we have more faith than others! My experience is also of many families who would love to send their kids to one of these schools, and just can’t for whatever reason. It’s really painful for them as it’s not an issue of how much faith they have at all!
Perhaps churches need to prioritise this more in their charitable work? If churches globally valued Christian education more, they might be able to raise money for families to attend such schools. Sadly, my experience is that many churches just don’t understand or value Christian education. I’ve often heard the comment that our children should be ‘salt and light’ in the local secular schools, going out to fulfil the great commission to those around them. Israel Wayne wrote a good apologetic for Christian education in his book, ‘Education: does God have an opinion?’ In response to this issue, he writes,
Not only do Proverbs 13:20 and 1 Corinthians 15:33 emphatically tell us that this does not work, they tell us the inverse is true….If it were a good theory, we would expect to see government schools and society becoming increasingly Christian, since 80-90 percent of all Christian parents send their children to these schools. But that is not what we see at all. What we see, in every study imaginable, is our culture becoming increasingly hostile to the things of the Lord, and we can trace this, in great measure, directly to the influence of the government or school system
Perhaps churches generally haven’t thought too much about this? Maybe, if they had, they’d be far more concerned to contribute to Christian education as a whole, thereby releasing many more parents to afford Bible based education.
Should churches be taking far more responsibility for providing money and Christian education for families all over the world than they currently do? Should it be the individual family’s responsibility to sacrifice everything to send their children to these schools or should it be a collective responsibility of the body of Christ?