Written by Mr. Triemstra, on March 26, 2021
Why Christian Education – Part 1
Over the next couple months, I will be writing a blog series explaining the rationale for Christian education from my perspective. There are, no doubt, many ways to approach this subject but I think it is helpful to see the rationale by thinking about what children need so that they are prepared to serve their Lord. First, children need a certain ethos, or atmosphere, for healthy Christian faith formation. There are practices that need to be demonstrated and they need to engage in. Second, children need to be deeply rooted in the Christian story and need to be called to make that story their own. Third, children need to know that this Christian story (i.e. the scriptures and the 2000 year reflection on God’s word) has relevance for all of their lives. Fourth, children need to know what all this knowledge they have received and the practices that they have engaged in is for; it’s for mission. The Christian school is a missional enterprise. Christian education is for our children, yes, but ultimately following Jesus means reaching out to others.
All four elements listed above are critical for the Christian formation of our children. They do not stand alone. This is not to say that they all happen at the same time or to the same degree. But the removal of any one of these elements can lead to a seriously diminished understanding of the faith. Imagine a Christian school that only emphasizes a Christian ethos. A student may then conclude that the Christian life is only about worship and being good, gracious and kind to others. Without knowing the biblical story we are cut off from the why of worship and what makes right worship. We would also be hard pressed to know what should be resisted or challenged. If a school was to only focus on the first two elements we could slip into thinking that our “spiritual life” has little or no relevance for the rest of our lives. Even if we only neglect the last element, that a Christian school is a missional enterprise, our school could end up being a place that breeds insularity, or creates a ghetto. As I write this blog series I will be focusing on only one element at a time, but they are parts of a whole.