By Teresa Goodnight

The youth are our future. It’s a reminder Christians need to keep top of mind every day.  The buzz around many churches in the city continues to be around discipleship.  Many churches feel they have lost their way a bit on discipling new (and old!) believers and are trying to navigate their way back into more of a discipline.  The problem is—that navigation takes time.  For those who aren’t paying attention, it will take an awakening. However, as parents we KNOW that we really don’t have THAT much time.

Nothing seems faster than a child’s move from diapers to grade school and then out of the house to college or career.  As parents, many seriously wonder where the time has gone (Of course, some ARE anxiously counting down the days to graduation!). With time not being on our side, often one of the things accidentally put off until tomorrow can be the true discipleship of our children.  It’s not that we don’t take them to church—we do.  Mostly.  However, for many, life seems to get in the way of scheduled dedicated time together to talk about the Bible and train our kids.  We are trying, but the quick, hard question is this:  Are we doing enough?  Are our churches training our children to live life as successful, independent adult Christians?  To take it even further, are they being trained in a way to stay grounded in a world moving away from our core Christian values?  If we’re unsure, it’s a great reminder – we only get one chance to raise them right. 

One way parents are getting the extra discipleship is partnering with a Christian school.  I know.  It didn’t strike me at first either.  I never considered sending a child to private Christian schools until I had one. It wasn’t even on my radar. Then, when my daughter was born, I started to feel the burden of managing her education.  My husband and I looked at private schools before she was out of her diapers at just under 2 years.  However, I wasn’t looking for a Christian education partner–I was searching for the school to offer my highly intelligent, little cutie the ability to take advantage of all God had given her.  My husband and I set the course looking for a school avoiding naps and offering her the perfect environment to thrive.  Christian schools were on the list, because I wanted her to grow up around other Christian kiddos, but our first line of business was education.  I just liked the thought of fewer students to one teacher.  I was pretty sure my only child would need all the attention a teacher could muster to feel assured and heard.

In 2018 though, I started meeting children attending private Christian schools.   I was really in awe of how well they could articulate their faith with real depth of meaning. I couldn’t help but wonder if the difference was at home or in where their time was spent studying—maybe both. If it was at home, I was a little jealous of the parenting skills, as we barely found time for meals, much less anything else.  So, I decided to dig a little deeper.  When I started talking to the private Christian schools, I was amazed. Turns out, the majority of them spend semesters of time learning the basics of our faith. The Bible is integrated throughout the school career.  It’s not just for Sundays or maybe Wednesdays.  They study it. They learn to share it. It really becomes a large part of their every day life at school. I never really thought about it before. 

Then I started asking the students. Sure enough, the students were in private schools, attending classes on the basics of their faith, world views, and learning to integrate their beliefs into their everyday life. I was amazed at both their ability to articulate what they believe as well as how confidently they expressed their thoughts.  I knew right then, I had been focused on the wrong thing.  It wasn’t just the general educational experience, but I wanted my daughter to experience all the integration of God with her daily life that I could find.  All of a sudden, her education dropped to second place under her discipleship.

Why does this matter? Because if they don’t understand what they believe and why, when the days come when they question their faith (usually college age but sometimes earlier), they tend to begin to wander.  Only you
can know your child and how your church is faring on instilling the important basics of the faith in them. As a parent, this is a critical part of our jobs. If we miss it, we may not get that chance again. 

So, as a product of an incredible public school, where Bible studies, a few Christian teachers and Christian friends were the norm, I can still see how much of a difference a Christian education might have mattered to me.  As times get more difficult, if school can offer those extra people investing Biblically in my daughter, who help keep my child on God’s path for life–I’ve decided it’s worth the sacrifice. After all, it does take a village. 

CATCH THIS: We’re interviewing a graduate of Mingo Valley Christian, Carson Lowe, sophomore at the University of Arkansas, for February to specifically talk about this training and its value in his University of Arkansas World Views class. You won’t want to miss it next month.