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Biblical education expands from Sunday to 7 days a week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Formally broadening its view of education in 1996, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution that “affirms and encourages the thousands of excellent Southern Baptist public, private and home-oriented educators.”

The resolution also noted that parents are “the principle educators of their children,” and they should have “the freedom and ability to elect the educational process best suited for their family needs.”

Not just in word, but also in deed that same year, the SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources established LifeWay Christian School Resources to help Christian and homeschool teachers instill a biblical worldview in their students.

In addition to LifeWay Christian School Resources’ “Bible Quest Curriculum” teaching tools and guides, director Glen Schultz conducts seminars and offers consulting services to help train the growing number of Christian school teachers and administrators in biblical worldview integration. In addition, each summer LifeWay Christian School Resources hosts the “Building a Kingdom School Institute” for Christian school educators.

The LifeWay ministry seeks to shift the emphasis on biblical education from a Sunday-only event to the seven-day-a-week training of children that God intended, Schultz said.

“Would God ever look down and say, ‘Glen, I regret I ever made you a parent?’” Schultz asks. His lifelong study of Scripture and educational issues has convinced him that educating children is nothing less than a sacred responsibility which he is fond of calling “God’s homework assignment to parents.”

Schultz, author of “Kingdom Education: God’s Plan for Educating Future Generations,” sees the 1996 SBC actions not so much as a revolution as a reformation of ideas.

“It’s going back to the original standard,” he said. “It was laid out in Scripture. But it’s new to this generation.”

Schultz’s book is required reading now for many seminary students studying Christian education. Kenneth Coley, director of Christian school administration at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., is one professor who includes it in his course syllabus.

Hired at the same time Schultz was selected to lead the new LifeWay Christian school program, Coley said the 1996 SBC annual meeting marked a “quantum leap forward” for Christian schools.

“Up to that point, there were many outstanding Christian schools in Southern Baptist churches,” Coley said, “but the convention had not made a bold move forward to participate in the creation or resourcing of those schools.

“Historically, Southern Baptists were really way behind the huge wave called the Christian school movement.”

It was the first time the seminaries began to include a Christian school focus as part of their curriculum, Coley said. By 2003, Southeastern Seminary had five graduates in its master’s degree program in Christian administration and all five now serve as principals.

Knowing that many teenagers leave the church within two years of graduating from high school, Schultz said parents realize that the idea of deprogramming up to 60 hours a week of secular influence from school and other sources isn’t realistic.

“We can’t just go and say we’re Christians and we’re going to believe the Bible about tithing, the family, the church and other issues, but not about education,” Schultz said. “I know people are frightened about that, but to me, we must be obedient to all of God’s Word.”

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, agreed, noting that parents carry an “incredible responsibility” in the education and training of their children.

“If I had life to do over, I would have a house full of children, and I would pour myself into them as the primary task of my life,” Patterson said. “[My wife] Dorothy and I were deeply involved with our children’s education. Given a second opportunity, we would be much more involved.”

Schultz said this year alone, 1,500 teachers will have received LifeWay’s biblical worldview integration training, which provides practical lesson planning strategies.

Schultz said Christian schools also have begun asking for help with training materials for parents so they can partner with the school and church in the education of their children.

“I see a groundswell of young parents especially who are saying, ‘We’re fearful. We need help.’ Instead of simply telling them to go to a Christian school or homeschool, we teach them biblical parenting principles so they have the truth to make good decisions,” Schultz said.

R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said parents are realizing that failing to take responsibility for educating their children is “no option at all.”

“The flight from the public schools is one of the most significant demographic trends of the 21st century,” Mohler said. “This is now led by Christian parents who are taking responsibility for the education of their children.”

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  • Andrea Higgins