Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This Little Light of Mine (Part 2)

                                            Photo by Alesa Dam

The Great Commission and The Homeschool Family

"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying,

'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, 

baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 

teaching them to observe all that I command you;

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' "

Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)

As I noted in my last post, one of the most common objections to homeschooling made by Christians is that homeschooling is inherently unevangelistic.

The claim is that, if Christians remove their children from public schools, there will be no more "salt and light" left in a place that is already so dark and tasteless.

I have wanted to say more about this, but I have been wrestling for over a week now with what exactly it should be. I have so many thoughts on this matter, and it's hard to know where to begin.

We know that merely hanging around with unsaved people doesn't make us evangelists any more than hanging around with Christians makes a person a Christ-follower. We also know that bad company corrupts good morals. (I Corinthians 15:33)

But it goes deeper than that. We also know that most Christians kids who are going to public schools are not doing much evangelism. Truth be told, most Christian adults are not doing much evangelism in their workplace, either. Why is this?

Four Necessary Elements

We must ask ourselves, what are the things that are necessary for Christian evangelism to occur? Based on my understanding of the Scriptures, I can think of four:

--The Holy Spirit. In John 14:16, Jesus promised his disciples that he would ask the Father to send another helper to them, to enable them to do the work that he was going to leave them to do. This helper is the Holy Spirit. Which brings us back to the issue of rebirth. We know for a statistical fact that somewhere around 75% of kids being raised in American Christian homes walk away from their faith by the end of their freshman year in college. According to I John 2:19, this means that the vast majority of these young people do not have saving faith. Without saving faith, there is no promise of the Holy Spirit to help a child evangelize.

--Biblical Literacy and a Knowledge of the Gospel. Biblical literacy among Christians--that is, knowing what the Bible teaches and how it is to be applied--is at an all-time low in this country. Less than 10% of churched teens have a biblical world view. This isn't just on "hot button" social issues like gay marriage, premarital sex, or abortion. These young people don't understand the core foundational truths of the gospel--sin, grace, atonement, justification. They don't believe that Jesus is God, nor do they believe that his life on earth was one of perfect sinlessness. If young people don't get these things, how can they possibly share the gospel with their friends at school?

--Relationships. I know what you are thinking. This is the entire point of those who think Christians ought be sending their children to public schools. How can our children possibly form relationships with lost people if they don't go to school? 

First of all, the idea that school is the only place where children can "socialize" is a fallacy we have come to believe based on decades of immersion in the culture of government-run education. Young people who go to public schools have little time for anything else. They are lucky if they have enough breathing room in their schedules to eat one meal a day at home with their families. The problem is, they don't have much time to form healthy relationships at school, either. There entire day is scheduled solid, with maybe a 20 minute break for lunch. 

If you went to public school, ask yourself, am I still close to anyone I was friends with in public school? Who are those people? Chances are, they are people you spent a significant amount of time with outside of school. I know this is true for me.

School is not the only place for kids to make friends, nor is it even the best place. In reality, institutional settings are as lousy at equipping people for human relationships as they are at educating them in other areas. Which brings me to the fourth necessary element...

--Communication. Romans 10:14 tells us, How then will they call on Him whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?" Again, in verse 17, "so faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (NASB)

One of the reasons that children don't do much evangelism in public schools is that it is not really their job to talk. It is their job to listen. The teacher is the one who does most of the talking. To be direct, instead of Christians students evangelizing their peers, the secular humanist teachers are discipling our Christian kids!--telling them what to think and not to think, what to believe and why to believe it.

Even public school teachers who are Christians are not talking much (if at all) about God. If they did, they'd be out of a job--fast. I did have one public school teacher who made it a point to share her faith with her students, but she did it by sharing her life with us. She spent a great deal of time with us outside the classroom, and her office was always an open door to us. She was the high school choir teacher, so she had some liberty to choose sacred music for us to learn and study. This, however, was 15 years ago (ouch...am I old???). I doubt many teachers have that kind of freedom to share their faith today. 

For children to share their faith with their classmates, there must be time and opportunities for effective communication. A quick two minute conversation between bells doesn't do it.

So what does this all mean for home educating families?

So far, I've spent most of my time explaining why there isn't much evangelism happening in our public schools. But what about homeschoolers?  How are we to fulfill the Great Commission? Are we doing it?

Let's look at those four necessary elements again:

--The Holy Spirit. To Christian parents, God gives the Holy Spirit, to empower us to evangelize and disciple our own children. As home educators, this is our primary responsibility. Remember, our children will never be able to do any evangelism and discipleship themselves if they are not first evangelized and discipled. The Bible tells us that this is the parents' job--not the job of the Youth Pastor, Sunday School Teacher, or Christian Education Director. 

Once our children are born again, they too will have the Holy Spirit, and be able to, by His power, tell others the truth of the gospel.

--Biblical Literacy and a Knowledge of the Gospel. The Bible is the focal point of our curriculum, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is its central theme.We teach other subjects--reading, writing, math, science, history--not in addition to the Word of God, but saturated with the Word of God. All truth is God's truth, and all of our teaching must be pointing our children directly toward God. We must never lose sight of this matter of utmost importance.

--Relationships. This is where many homeschooling parents falter. In a fast-paced world where we are often the only people at home during the day in our neighborhoods, it can be easy to spend most of our lives away from other people.

However, we know that God does work to spread the gospel through the hospitality of Christian families. "And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching that Jesus is the Christ." Acts 5:42 (NASB-emphasis mine).

What if your home had an open door policy? What if people in your neighborhood knew that your house was a safe, happy place for their children to visit and play? What if your family demonstrated so much love for each other, and you lived in such a radically different way that your neighbors just "had to know" what was going on in your house? 

Outside of our homes, we also have opportunities to share our faith. We can become involved in community organizations, visit nursing homes, or volunteer to help the needy in various ways. We can make ourselves fixtures at the local library or playground, especially during the summer months where children who are schooled outside the home are typically board and lonely. If we truly have a heart for unsaved school children, we can become involved in ministries like Child Evangelism Fellowship's Good News Clubs, where Christians bring Bible teaching and the Gospel of Christ into the schools to reach lost children and their families.

There are so many ways for our families to share the gospel with others, if we would just open our eyes to them and seek God's leading in our lives!

--Communication. When we communicate the truth of God's Word to our children, we are doing our primary duty in fulfilling the Great Commission. This communication is mostly a one-way conversation at first, with us as parents diligently teaching our children what to believe and why to believe it. As they grow and ask questions, it becomes a two-way conversation, where we can come to an understanding of what our little ones are truly absorbing.

If we are diligent and patient in bringing up our children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, how much better equipped will they be to communicate their faith clearly to a lost and dying world around them?

If we think about the great pastors, missionaries, and evangelists of our world, many of them had one thing in common--a mother who was at home to nurture, instruct, and disciple her children in the Word of God. My home is my Jerusalem...my primary mission field.


Allena said...

thanks for this post! over the past week or so my DH and I have been talking about homeschooling our daughters. this has really jsut said everything that i wanted to say and couldn't articulate!

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

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Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

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Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

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