Monday, March 17, 2008

How sheltered should our children be?

For the past few years my children have had the wonderful opportunity to attend Mentor Christian School. The staff of the school has done a commendable job of pointing my children toward Christ. They have learned much and profited from the godly examples of their teachers. For these things I am very thankful.

But as I consider the future of my children and our family, I must admit that I have wondered whether such a sheltered environment is healthy for the spiritual upbringing of my children. This may seem strange coming from someone who graduated from Northside Christian School, the Bible Institute of Ohio, and Northland Baptist Bible College. Each step in my educational background is still appreciated. However, I still wonder whether being so sheltered was counter-productive in some ways.

With the Great Commission in mind, how sheltered should our children be? Granted, what I have heard about public education in not very inviting. Parents with children in public schools must be more involved in the educational process to correct erroneous views such as evolution, sex education, and a number of other things. But regardless of the choice of education, is this not the Deuteronomy 6 mindset? We should constantly be teaching our children about the Lord so that they are prepared for the world's influences.

On the one hand, I see the value of sheltering my children from the influences of public education. In a Christian school, I am confident that they will be taught by believers who want God's best for them. But on the other hand, I see sheltering as a negative limitation. How will my children learn to stand against the temptations of the world, if I never let them experience it until graduation from high school? And how will they see the need to reach the lost if they rarely, if ever, meet the lost?

Ask the average Christian school student how many unsaved friends he has and he will have to think for a while. He is constantly involved with church and Christian school activities which allow little time for meaningful contact with the world. As I have said before, there is good in that ... and bad. We must protect our children while also giving them the opportunity to face temptation and see the need to reach out to the lost.

These thoughts have been running through my head for some time now. But they were revived recently, after reading the following thoughts. The author writes about Jesus' surprising practice of spending time with sinners such as Levi and his sinful friends.
The primary issue in Jesus' mind was that this motley crew of sinners needed help. Compassion for the needy was the driving force behind his ministry. Christians, like Jesus, must look upon the lost as the victim, those upon whom compassion is the most productive endowment. There is no impact without contact. Unless we go where the fish are, we won't catch any. The Pharisees weren't catching anyone; they were fishing in a stained-glass aquarium and were coming up empty. The reason the Church has been so inept in evangelism is partly due to the Pharisaic unwillingness to live in the real world.

Bill Hull, Jesus Christ Disciple Maker, (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1993), 101-2.
Will my children attend a public school in the future? I don't know. That would depend on a number of things. But I do know that I will continue to involve them in activities that keep them in contact with the world. Our recent contact with people through Cub Scouts has been a positive thing so far. (You may recall that Jefferson was able to speak to some friends about Christ during a camp out last year. That was exhilarating!) In any event, whether Christian, public, or home schooling, I want my children to grow up knowing, loving, and caring for the lost around them. If they fail to do that, they will fail to amount to much of anything for the Lord.

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