While preparing to speak at the annual vision banquet for a local classical Christian academy, it occurred to me that as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we as Christian parents have a biblical responsibility to give our children a classical Christian education no matter where we choose to enroll them for school. Whether our children are home schooled or attend a private, public, or Christian school, we have the sole responsibility of making sure we model and instill a biblical worldview through which they filter all their academic studies and life circumstances. It is part of raising a generation of children wholly the Lord’s. A generation God can use to change our communities and our nation.
I pray the following guest blog by Oak Ridge Christian Academy’s headmaster, Pastor Jess Larson, inspires you as much as it has me that we all should and can incorporate classical Christian education into our children’s learning.
As a parent, I believe Psalm 78:1-7 (NASB) captures what lies at the heart of a Christian’s desire for his or her children:
Listen, O my people, to my instruction; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.
We long that the generation to come, even the children yet to be born, might know and tell their children to put their confidence in God, not forget his works, and keep His commandments! That they will love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. That they would not just know the truth, but be able to stand up for the truth and communicate it in a compelling, persuasive way!
Our labor in Christian education, whatever form that takes, is not in vain, for Psalm 100:5 declares, “God’s truth endures to all generations!” Human philosophies and scientific theories come and go, but God’s truth endures forever. So we labor diligently to plant the gospel in young lives, praying that the Lord bring these magnificent truths from our children’s minds to their hearts.
Classical Christian education begins with teaching our children that the whole world and all it contains is God’s – it’s His creation – and that everything was made to communicate His greatness and goodness and bring glory to Him. These truths are the non-negotiables of a Christian education, and no matter what type of school our children attend, we have the responsibility and privilege to come alongside them to instill this truth.
We cannot give this responsibility away! We cannot abdicate our responsibility to “train up our children in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6), as Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NASB) clearly charges all parents:
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
God’s people, specifically parents, are to consistently encompass the lives of their children with God’s Word, speaking it to them at all times of day in all sorts of manners with the goal that our children will actually learn.
We all have experienced the difference between teaching and learning – while learning does require some sort of teaching, not all teaching results in real learning. For that reason we must continually examine not only WHAT we teach but HOW we teach.
What are the tried-and-true methods which have a proven track record for genuine learning? Is there a way of training and equipping students that goes “with the grain” of their development and maturity as people? Is there a method which equips students with the tools of learning so that they become critical thinkers and lifelong learners?
The good news is, “YES!”
Space does not allow for the manual I could write on the how’s of incorporating a classical style of Christian education into your family, nor the why’s. For that, I offer the following reading list in what I consider to be the order of importance:
- “The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy Sayers: http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html
- “An Introduction to Classical Education” by Christopher A. Perrin
- Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning and The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglass Wilson
- When Children Love to Learn, edited by Elaine Cooper
- The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
For today, let me encourage you with this. Any parent, whether involved in a home school, Christian school, public, or private school can incorporate classical Christian education into their interactions with their children by starting with a foundation of the unchangeable Word of God—the Bible.
Begin by teaching and demonstrating that the Bible is true and that all truth is God’s truth. Show your children how God reveals Himself in His creation, in the Bible, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and then confidently teach all subjects in the light of His Lordship.
Because God created the world and everything in it, all creation is subject to Him. As God is the Creator of the world and the Author of all truth, we must acknowledge Him in all fields of study. This means more than just affirming that God is the source of a given subject. It suggests that we should think about subjects differently and then strive to understand what they teach us about God and about His creation.
I pray that the next generation does indeed place its confidence in God, does not forget His works, and keeps His commandments all to God’s glory! And may we, as parents, be instruments in our Lord’s hands to accomplish this great work!
Soli Deo Gloria!
In addition to serving as headmaster of Oak Ridge Christian Academy, Jess Larson is senior pastor at Oak Ridge Reformed Baptist Church, where he served as youth pastor for six years before becoming senior pastor in 2006. His administrative and pastoral positions enable him to pursue his heart for teaching and training students and adults. He and his wife have four children.
For more information on Pastor Jess Larson or Oak Ridge Christian Academy, visit www.oakridgechristian.org. If you would like details about their upcoming vision banquet, Friday, October 25, click here.