Should we give up on public education? Is there still some good that Christians can bring to the system?
Many Christians have bailed on public schools these days. And watching the news it’s easy to see why. Whether promoting the ideas of the sexual revolution, strange bathroom policies, censoring Christmas from plays, violence, falling test scores or removing the Bible from libraries—I get it. It’s easy to be outraged. But outrage isn’t a strategy.
As Warren Cole Smith and I write in our book, “Restoring All Things,” (with special credit to my friend Gabe Lyons), Christians need to ask themselves a few key questions to help us respond to the society around us.
First, “What is good in our culture that we can promote, protect, and celebrate?” Second, “What’s missing in our culture that we can creatively contribute?” Third, “What’s evil in our culture that we can stop?” And fourth, “What’s broken in our culture that we can restore?”
These are questions we can bring to bear on virtually any area of culture and society. For example, let’s take the first two questions and apply them to public schools.
First, what good in our public schools can we promote, protect, and celebrate? To answer that, I turn to Eric Buehrer of Gateways to Better Education, which equips and trains Christian teachers who work in public schools. He points out that our public schools are filled with Christians. Nearly fifty percent of public school teachers attend church and say their faith is very important in their lives.
Now I get why many Christians, me included, choose other options for our own kids, and for many reasons. But I’m not talking just about where we choose to send our own kids, which is a family by family decision. I’m talking about how Christians can reach that aspect of society.
We should celebrate and support Christians who are in education. After all, the idea of education for all was a Christian one. We should thank God that Christians have such a presence in these schools, and protect those that are there. And of course there are many Christian students in these schools as well.
And this leads to the second question: What is missing in our schools that we can creatively contribute? Well for one, an understanding of the academic and religious freedom our students and teachers have.
Many Christians don’t know the freedom they have to express their faith, and they don’t know how to do it appropriately. So, often out of fear, they say nothing.
So what can we do? We can initiate a campaign to raise awareness of students’ and teachers’ religious freedom. Gateways to Better Education and the Alliance Defending Freedom have created the National Free to Speak Campaign to help you do just that. We have information about it at BreakPoint.org.
And then there’s the matter of integrating a biblical worldview into academic subjects—history, social studies, art and music. Students cannot possibly receive a well-rounded education without understanding Christianity’s impact on Western Civilization. There would be no Western civilization without the Bible or Christianity. So Gateways conducts seminar for educators on how they can go about incorporating sound teaching on the role of Christianity into their lesson plans. Why not host them?
Your local schools can become better at welcoming religious expression and places where educators teach the contributions of Christianity. Gateways to Better Education can show you how. Come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary for more information.
Asking what’s good, what’s missing, what evil can be stopped, and what can we restore—this is an approach to cultural renewal that Chuck Colson understood and practiced. And last month when Chuck was honored with the William Wilberforce Award, Emily Colson gave a stunning speech about her dad. To get a copy of the free, downloadable pdf of Emily’s moving tribute to her dad, visit BreakPoint.org/free.
We Can Impact Our Public Schools: Key Questions, Key Freedoms
Listed below are just some of the resources available to help Christians speak into their spheres of influence. That includes, but isn't limited to, the public schools. Check out the links for more details, and be sure to download a copy of Emily Colson's moving tribute to her dad.
Gateways to Better Education
National Free to Speak Campaign
Gateways to Better Education, Alliance Defending Freedom
Tribute to Chuck Colson
Emily Colson | Wilberforce Award 2016
Available at the online bookstore
Restoring All Things: God's Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People
John Stonestreet, Warren Cole Smith | Baker Books | May 2015