By Jay Ferguson, JD, PhD, headmaster of Grace Community School, Tyler, Texas. An ACSI School.
After 15 years of working in the field of Christian education, and being a parent of Christian school students myself, I’m convinced that few things provide more hope to our country or our world than teaching Jesus to our kids.
A true Christian school is set up to think, create, feel, design curriculum, present lessons, disciple kids, and partner with parents in a completely different way. If you believe God is the author of life and the creator of everything that is, this means that He has a perspective, something to say about everything in life: not just relationships and living in a moral way, but about things like language, and math, and science, and music, and every aspect of human endeavor. When the Apostle Paul says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2, NIV), he doesn’t mean just know facts about God; he means let what you know about God, revealed in His Word and through creation, transform the way you look at everything in life. That’s what a Christian school is about: helping kids think that way. And, no other school is set up to do it. It can’t.
Learning Together in a Christian Community
Being a Christian school impacts not just what is taught, but where it is taught. As one of my PhD professors told me, “Context is everything.” The “where” is not everything, but it is really, really important. In a Christian school, school community members are unified in living according to God’s Word as his or her standard. Notice I’m not saying, “Everyone lives according to God’s Word all the time.” This school is an imperfect place, because you and I are here. As the Gospel teaches, we are not perfect people; but, we are perfect-able: failing, repenting, and asking the Holy Spirit to help us love and be holy.
This means we love, even when we don’t feel like it. We love even when it’s hard, even when a student, or a parent, or a teacher, or an administrator, or a sick, or injured, or difficult community member is hard to love. We love because we’re family, commanded by God to love and hang together. Teachers feel that love, and it allows them to share, and collaborate, and innovate, and explore in ways they might not otherwise. Students feel that love, and they are more secure in who they are, more willing to try harder, more willing to ask questions, to take academic risks, and to express themselves. When kids know they’re loved, they’re more open to being discipled, to being conformed to the image of Christ. It provides a medium in which great learning and great living happens. This is the beauty of learning together in Christian community. Only a learning community joined by the gospel can love this particular way.
A Valuable Investment
The Christian school isn’t paradise. It’s not perfect. No family, or church, or community is. Perfection is a unicorn, always taunting and enticing, yet always eluding those who try to chase it. But, for those who have chosen Christian schooling, who have committed to be a part of it, pray for it, support it, and fight for it, not as an idol, but as an act of worship of the God they love, most days it’s pretty great. Sure, it’s an investment, but it’s an eternal one. And as a father of three, two of whom have graduated, it’s the best investment we ever made. Because “what,” “where,” and “who” make all the difference in the world.