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It takes a Bible to raise a child, Christian school advocate says

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The church is slowly losing its most valuable asset — its children — and at least one education specialist says the solution rests in one thing: renewing their minds.
Citing Christian sociologist George Barna, Glen Schultz said only 7 to 8 percent of people identifying themselves as Christians today are biblical in their understanding of life. Therefore, today’s society is headed for either spiritual revival or moral anarchy, he said, and the generation determining which direction society will take is now sitting in today’s classrooms.
Schultz, director of Christian school resources for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the education children presently are receiving in many classrooms may contribute to their failure in achieving the Great Commission of the church.
“We’re betraying our children,” Schultz said. “We’ve prepared our kids to go to college and get a good job. We’re not preparing them for any kind of spiritual service. We’re not preparing them to think and act from a biblical perspective.”
Schultz visited the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 22-23 during a special emphasis week on the ministry of LifeWay. He challenged both parents and educators to see the crisis in which he said they find themselves.
Some research suggests 70 percent of teens attending a church youth group will stop attending church within two years of high school graduation, he said. Of those 70 percent, 50 percent will never come back. The problem, he said, is in the way Christians have let their children be educated.
“The end result of all education is a worldview,” Schultz said. “That worldview is either man-centered or God-centered. We tell our kids to love the Lord, get good grades and do well in school. Many schools teach things like evolution, directly refuting our biblical view, yet we tell them to get good grades, and therefore they end up believing these philosophies.”
Today, SBC churches are doing only a portion of their part in successfully educating children with a biblical perspective. Though state conventions send millions of dollars to Baptist colleges, they are reaching their target several years too late, he said. By the time a child reaches age 18, Schultz said, that child already has formed a general worldview upon which he will build the rest of his character and life. Therefore, Schultz said, it is time for the church to get serious about the total education of children and youth.
“When considering the church’s desire to evangelize the world, we must realize there is no better way to do this than to raise a generation that knows Christ and is equipped to serve him,” he said.
“Children are God’s homework assignment to parents. When I’m through training my child, I’m handing Christ an arrow to use on the spiritual battleground.”
Being aware of Christian education and subsequently starting Christian schools or home schools is not a new topic, but Schultz said it is a topic that has not gained the needed importance over the years. Would-be participants in Christian or home schools say the idea is a valid goal, but money or space or circumstances won’t allow the goal to become a reality.
Schultz, however, said if Christians believe in God and what he can do, the solution is quite simple: They must practice complete stewardship of their lives. He said he has talked with many pastors who voice the same fears about starting a school and said his answer is always the same: “If this is truly how God is leading, if this is truly how he wants us to educate our children — and I believe it is — would God allow it to fail? Would he give a church a vision for education and then fail to provide the funds and space to see the vision fulfilled? Not the God I know.”
Schultz said not only has God stated the importance of rearing children biblically, but the SBC also addressed the task of Christian schooling in 1963 with the writing of the Baptist Faith and Message.
“I recently researched the Baptist Faith and Message … ,” Schultz wrote in his latest book, “Kingdom Education.” “In its article on education, I found these words: ‘The cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian schools is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ’s people.’
“Three sentences later, it gives clear indication that the term ‘Christian schools’ did not apply merely to those involved in higher education,” he continued. “It describes ‘… a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary … .’”
“Throughout his Word, God makes it clear to us that the education of the next generation is close to his heart. Therefore, it should receive the liberal support of the churches,” Schultz emphasized.
In spite of his passion to see children educated in the ways of the Scriptures, Schultz said his mission is not to convince every church to start a school, and he does not advocate churches simply giving children a replica of secular schooling within the confines of the church. He said the church has many times made a mistake in educating its children, focusing its attention on modifying their actions rather than focusing on forming their beliefs based on God’s Word.
“If we keep pressuring our children about their actions, they’ll conform as long as they are under our control,” he said.
“Secular education has shifted its focus off of appearances and actions. They have softened their limits on dress codes and such, but have focused on impacting students’ beliefs. Evolution teaches children that there is no supernatural being and that man has evolved from lower life forms. This has led to a secular mind-set, even in the church,” he said.
“Education is really just passing on our heritage to the next generation,” he continued. “I just don’t find in Scripture where we should allow the unsaved to explain life to our children. You can’t have Christian education without the Bible, and that means unsaved teachers and a secular education cannot properly prepare our children for eternity.”
Schultz said his main mission is to get the church to think about education from a totally biblical perspective, living out the mission in 2 Corinthians 10, in which the Apostle Paul admonishes every Christian to take every thought captive to Christ.
There is much work that must be done quickly, Schultz said. With society becoming more and more ambiguous about morality and the place of spirituality within the confines of the classroom, Schultz said Christians should step up to the plate and start talking about how the church will instill those values in the children. One thing is for sure: The Bible must be a basis for it all.
“If you remove God’s Word from education,” he said, “all you’re left with is human indoctrination.”

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