My wife and I are in a stage of our lives where recently many of our friends and classmates from high school and college are deciding where to send their children to school for the first time. Since we are both Christian school teachers, we find ourselves invited to help some of these friends discern whether Christian education is "right" for their children.
My initial reaction is to say that Christian education is "right" for all children. Of course, not everyone will agree with me, and even if they do, it does not guarantee that their children will attend a Christian School. I cannot speak very well on the reasons for Christian children to not attend a Christian school, although many of the reasons I have heard have valid points.
What I can speak on, however, is what I have observed of Christian education as a student, a parent, and a teacher.
I know that my own knowledge of the Bible and my understanding of who Jesus is began in a Kindergarten class at West Side. I know that my own children ask great questions about God and offer amazing theological insight at dinner (or in the car, or at the grocery store...) because they have been taught to wonder about Creation and the Creator. Just last week at dinner, we were discussing Jesus’ return to earth and my daughter said, “You know those rays of light that break through the clouds sometimes? I think when Jesus returns, it will look like that.”
I know that my 6th grade students also offer great questions and insight because of their own foundations here at West Side Christian. During recent morning devotions, a student talked about how we give ourselves the label of “Christian,” but what does that mean? “If you are going to be called a Christian, someone who follows the teachings of Christ, then your actions should be loving and caring like Jesus was.”
When I consider why I value Christian education so much, I am drawn back to the familiar passage from Proverbs 22:6:
"Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it."
I have seen this verse played out with people around me, a friend from high school or a former student walking away from his Christian lifestyle before returning to the foundation that was instilled in him at a young age. Of course, I am hopeful that all believers form a strong relationship with Jesus at a young age and maintain that for life, but regardless of our faith journey, a solid foundation in the principles of our Christian faith goes a long way to provide us with what we truly need: a relationship with Christ.
That is what I hope for my own children, which is why they attend West Side Christian. And that is my hope for students past, present and future, which is why it brings me such joy to train these children in the way they should go.