Jesus called us to be fishers of men. Jesus never intended that we use our children as the bait.
I didn’t make up the catchy phrase (yes, pun intended). I read it somewhere. Many years ago a parent came into my office around re-enrollment time. She was also one of my board members at the Christian school. She said that she and her husband had a vision of sorts. They had reached the conclusion that their two children needed to attend the local public school. They were called to be witnesses there. She then used the phrase that cuts off all other points of view: “We have prayed about it, and God told us to do this.”
There was no arguing the point anyway. She had not come to my office to ask my opinion or to seek advice. She simply showed up to announce their epiphany. The matter was settled, and yet it isn’t.
You may sense, and I will admit, that I am a bit cynical. While I confess that my cynicism is not appropriate, I will also defend the point that I would have made, should that mother or any other seek my input. First, God never calls us away from obedience. Second, God does not change, and his instructions in his Word were true when they were written, and they are true now. Third, Jesus never would have condoned or supported first-century education that was not rooted in the Word. And finally, our children are not bait for the fish of the world.
Point 1: There is not a single example or hint in Scripture that our lives are to be anything but God-centered. Jesus tells us that the greatest command is to love God. Christian schools in our tradition were begun long before government-run schools began to intentionally push God out. As a colleague said, “Government schools have become openly hostile to Christians.”
Point 2: Scripture contains commands to parents. Nowhere are those commands clearer than in Deuteronomy 6. Tell your children. Bind my commands to your arms and forehead. Talk of them when you sit at home, walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. In other words, make obedience central to your lives. That cannot be done in six plus hours of a God-excluded environment.
Point 3: Jesus’ message was radical in many ways, but throwing his disciples to the wolves of the world was not one of them. Yes, he told them that they would be advancing the kingdom by going to the ends of the earth. Most certainly, we are to be kingdom advancing, great commission schools. But first children must be prepared, equipped, and trained. He likely called teens to be his close disciples. He trained them. He equipped them. They were first prepared and then sent to the world with the good news.
Point 4: We are called to train our children to fish. But first they must be prepared. It is foolishness to dip them into the waters of God-excluded environments in the hope that someone will nibble at them and we can hook the nibbler for Christ. Certainly fish are caught with bait. Just as certainly fish devour the bait without being hooked.
I am firmly convinced that Christian education is as crucial today as it ever was. Christian schools must train children to become kingdom people; fishers of men. Christian education in the reformed tradition was never established or intended to serve as a protest against the world or as an escape from the world. Instead it is intended to nurture the next generation of disciples to be difference makers in the world, but difference makers who are first equipped to confront a worldview that is diametrically opposed to a biblical worldview. The next generation will not become fishers if all they ever experience is being dangled from a hook as bait.
Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Membership