The Role of the Church in Christian Education
At 8:00 this morning, Lancaster Baptist School begins its twenty-sixth year of cultivating hearts for God and minds for Christ.
As I look back over these past twenty-five years, I thank God for the investments we’ve made in the lives of young people, many of which are still serving the Lord and are now raising their children for God.
I often tell parents, “Christian education doesn’t cost—it pays.” I believe this is true, not only for parents, but also for the local church that invests labor in building the Christian school as a ministry of the church. Truly, the rewards for our efforts over the past twenty-five years have been beyond measure in the lives of our graduates.
God’s desire for young people is that they would cultivate a heart for Him and develop the mind of Christ. And God instructs parents to invest in their children to that end:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.—Deuteronomy 6:6–7
The local church also plays a tremendous role in this development as pastors and teachers team with parents to encourage young hearts for God and provide biblical teaching for the home.
Today’s public educational system, on the other hand, generally runs in direct opposition to the biblical values that parents are instructed to instill in their children’s hearts. (I detail in what ways this happens in the booklet The Value of Christian Education.)
A Christian school that nurtures hearts for God can help lay a solid, Christ-centered academic foundation in a child’s life. This is the goal which we have worked toward for the last twenty-five years at Lancaster Baptist Church through Lancaster Baptist School. And it is a goal that we have seen God bless.
What specifically is the church’s role in helping young people develop hearts and minds for God through Christian education? I believe it is three-fold:
To teach the principles of God’s Word
God has given the local church the responsibility of teaching His Word to all—not just to adults, but to young people as well.
More than a child needs academic education, he needs to understand the principles of God’s Word that will help him navigate through life successfully. Through a Christian education, he can learn both. Philippians 2:5 instructs, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” The goal of Christian education is to help young people develop the mind of Christ.
Humanistic educators today would have us believe that academic learning and spiritual truths are incompatible. Public education attempts to relegate anything “religious” out of the classroom. But, as Christians, we believe that God’s truth should permeate every area of our lives and relationships.
Christian education reinforces the relevancy of truth for all areas of life as it intertwines God’s Word with other learning. A Christian teacher looks for opportunities to draw upon Scripture, weaving God’s principles throughout the basics of education. For instance, a child in a Christian school not only learns about the particles and elements of science, but he is directed to marvel at the wisdom of God in creating these intricate systems. At every opportunity, God’s principles are brought to his heart.
To teach Christ-centered academics
As Christians, we want our children to make Christ the very center of their lives and to align every other area to Him and the principles in His Word. Secular institutions can impart a degree of understanding in science, math, English, and history, but they cannot, without God, direct a child’s heart toward true wisdom. Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom….” Only Christian education will point children to an awareness of God’s presence and of our accountability to Him as we assimilate and use knowledge.
Through a Christian school, a church can disciple young hearts and teach Christ-centered academics, where every facet of learning comes back to understanding and knowing Jesus Christ. Through teaching children to read, study, and learn, a Christian school equips young people with the tools they need to carry out God’s will for their lives.
To cultivate hearts for God
We simply can’t stop short by only educating minds. We must reach hearts for God.
A successful Christian life reflects far more than outer conformity (regular church attendance, adherence to standards, and the appearance of spiritual interest); it is the expression of a heart consumed with Christ and passionate about glorifying God. Paul outlined what this looks like in Ephesians 6:6: “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”
The Scripture-steeped atmosphere of a Christian school reaches far beyond the mind of a child and touches his heart. It directs students to personally following God’s recipe for success:
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.—Psalm 1:1–3
This promise is for the person who avoids saturation from ungodly influences and learns to delight in the very Word of God. And that goal is the purpose and heartbeat of a Christian school.
Surrounded by godly teachers and taught Christ-centered academics, students learn to love the Lord and His Word. They learn to filter their thinking through the Word of God and to build their lives on the solid, unchanging principles of God’s Word. In this environment they are taught to make their lives count for eternity by doing the will of God from the heart.
I praise the Lord for hundreds of Lancaster Baptist School alumni, equipped with a solid Christian education, who are doing the will of God from the heart. And I’m excited today to invest another year in cultivating hearts for God through the ministry of the Christian school.
- Pastor Paul Chappell