Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why We Put Our Christian Child In Public School

I really am asking the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts here because we come from a social circle where Homeschooling is considered the only real choice for a Christian family. But I wanted to at least put my thoughts out there on why I believe it's often okay if your kids go to public school.

I think homeschooling is a great opportunity for lots of families to raise strong Christian children in the way that they should go.
I think that public school is a great opportunity for a family to raise strong Christian children in the way that they should go.

Both of these are absolutely true. If you say sending a child to public school is a sin, then you need to fully back that up with scripture, and then explain it to the millions of Christian kids who have stayed strong in the faith while being educated in a secular environment.

First of all, I think most people would agree that a child's education is critical. So whatever one decides for their child's education needs to be thought about, prayed about, and meditated upon. If you listen to the Word and the Holy Spirit and you are led to place your kids in the public school system, then you should do just that. Be prepared to receive some grief from the inner circle. Do not be deterred though. There is not a verse in the Bible that says a child is required to be educated in the home. In fact I believe that if the Holy Spirit is leading you to put your child in Public school and you ignore that so that you don't have to feel awkward around your Christian friends, or sometimes even ostracized, then you are sinning by going against the leading that God has given you.

My sister and I grew up in public school, from Kindergarten till the day we walked across the stage and got our diploma. My wife was first raised in Catholic school and then transferred to public high school. We both have extensive experience with the worldliness that is taught in public school. I can't speak fully for her.. But for me, I was taught right from wrong from the Word, from parents, at home, at church, at camps, on youth mission trips, and every single Sunday and Wednesday of my life.. to this day.

It's true..
Homeschooling your child will allow you to dictate every aspect of their education, and bring a Godly perspective throughout their learning process. They won't face bullies. They won't face religious persecution. They will be separated completely from the world. But is this always the best scenario?

SO, without further ado.. Here's why WE send our daughter to Public School.

We have very little choice. We, together, out of necessity of maintaining health, food, and shelter for our family we put our daughter in public school. My wife and I both work full time jobs and we need every drop of income that we make. Granted we got married later in life when both of us brought our own debts, car loans, and spending styles into the picture. However you shape it, we simply cannot afford private school or homeschooling. It's as simple as that. This is coming from a dyed in the wool conservative who would give anything to see the federal government abolished in almost every sector.

We were able to choose a magnet school. It's a better education. Not just everyone gets in. They have uniforms and they have structure. If she were going to a dangerous school in a seedy part of town then it might be a different scenario. Now, I did not attend a magnet school. And my middle school and high school were both in the poorer parts of town. But Christ was never far from my thoughts. He goes where I go.

Christian teachers; Other Christian students. One of my big arguments for the acceptance of public school is simple.. There are millions of Christian students and teachers that are in public schools. Yes, it's tough to block out some of the harmful curriculum. But you can find other believers that act as a support to help maintain your child walking in the faith. Encourage those relationships with teachers and students who are in the same situation. You can almost have a Christian school within a public school. If every Christian kid was home schooled then the public school system would be a dark place where God would be completely absent and would leave a lot of kids destined to die and go to hell. I can think of many friends who got saved when they came into contact with a Christian friend and ended up getting saved and even eventually leading their families to the Lord.

We are fully aware of what is taught. One of the arguments for home school is that you have no control over what things are fed into your impressionable child's head. And that has some merit. However, you have the ability to get aggressive with your child's school and demand to be in on the curriculum. In our school we don't have to. We know the teacher. We have the ability to talk to her after hours. We also know exactly what her homework will be. We've seen the billions of years stuff and the liberal global warming stuff, and we've been able to talk to our daughter about what is actually true and what isn't. And she knows when to kind of tune out the worldly stuff. It opens up dialogue. It gives us a chance to help mold her faith and prepare her for what the world is going to try to do to her beliefs when she gets out of school some day. It has been a positive in our home.

Social maturity I don't know what home school is really like. I don't know every situation. But I believe that home school could possibly stunt social maturity. Our daughter is an only child. I would be seriously concerned about her maturity when it comes to relationships and social skills. Every child is different. However, they will face bullies, but with every downside there will be an opportunity to learn compassion, and empathy for the lost. There are risks. There are risks of your child being too heavily influenced to become like the world. In other words he/she might mature too much and be pulled by the dark elements that are part of every aspect of the world. But you have to just trust in God. God gives us some comfort that is essential for parents of public schoolers.. Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Some will take that verse to mean "educate" a child in the way that he should go. And that IS part of it. But training means spending time in prayer, reading the Word, teaching right from wrong, going to church.. etc. She can go learn her algebra over there.. but when she comes home we will take responsibility for her faith, spiritual maturity, and yes, deprogramming of whatever nonsense she was taught along with facts in school. We do not sit idly by.

If you have an opportunity and the skills to homeschool your children, you should do it.. IF it is what God is calling for you. But don't do it out of a guilt trip because you are afraid of how you will look to the ladies of your sewing group. Or because the men on the Tuesday morning men's breakfast all homeschool their kids. Be persuaded by God.. not man. And be prepared to defend your decision. The answers I gave here are a few thoughts on why I sleep okay at night with our decision. But find your own in Scripture and research.

Most importantly...

You already know what public school is going to teach. If you should go against the evangelical tide and send your kids to public school, do not be naive about what your child's little ears are going to hear. Billions of years, Karl Marx, Sex is okay, homosexuality is normal and okay, the Bible is not okay, Democrats are good, Republicans are evil, Christians are evil..etc Be Prepared!

And finally...

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--
his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Winter Jam In A Nutshell: A Review

Last night I attended Winter Jam 2015 in Wichita Kansas with my family. Winter Jam is sort of like the Contemporary Christian version of Warped Tour, minus the festival. Just a long concert featuring 7 to 10 bands as well as an evangelistic speaker. It was safe, family friendly, and I didn't have to worry about any of the artists using foul language or innuendo and it's only a $10 donation to get in. For me, unfortunately, that's where most of the positives stop.

Earlier last year when I read the band list to my daughter, who is a song-loving, music oriented 8 year old, she flipped. For King and Country and Francesca Battisteli are two of her favorite singers/groups. Plus there were going to be a whole bunch of other groups that she knew at least one or two songs by. So we were going for sure!

She waited with anticipation for months.

Doors open at 6pm.
Show starts at 7pm.
$10, at the door only, no assigned seats.

Sounds great!

Guess what... it's torture. From what I heard, by 5pm the lines were 3 blocks long in every direction. By 6pm supposedly it looked like a mob scene. My wife, daughter, and niece, had gotten there much earlier and still hadn't gotten in when I arrived. I was coming from work and couldn't get in line till about 6:30.. By then it was clear that they were going to start turning people away. So I did something pretty unChristianlike and sneaked my way to the front of the line by using the cunning tactic of just acting like I belonged there. So I'm not proud of that... But I had been looking forward to sharing this evening with my daughter and I wasn't going to get turned away.

So the ticket system is horrendous. Hundreds stood in line for probably over an hour only to get told they were over-capacity and they had to leave. I had the advantage of being one adult with no kids or wife with me at that moment so I was able to blend in and basically cheat my way in.

So, Why not charge more and allow people to buy tickets in advance like any other concert?

I'll tell you why..

They pack so many bands on one ticket to entice you, that your favorite band will get approximately 3 to 5 songs, and most of them were shortened versions of what you hear on CD's and the radio. And here's the kicker... In between each band you will be shown advertisement after advertisement. And in between those advertisements you will be hit up to give more money. Not once, not twice.. but 3 separate times they were begging, almost shaming you into dropping more money on them. Granted, one of those times is to sponsor a kid in Africa, but I have my concerns about the legitimacy of that endeavor as well. (I've sponsored a kid in the past, and my kid mysteriously kept needing more and more money.) Wow, am I a cynic or what?

Then there is the speaker portion of the show. Tony Nolan, who has been with Winter Jam for years (The show comes every year to most major cities.) gives the brief salvation message. It's brief, and that's understandable since they have to move things along. I saw another blogger call the entire show "Entertainment Evangelism" which I think is a great term to sum up what happens. Pastor Nolan comes out and is super hip and dresses young and he gives a 10 minute message that is basically "Yay God! Now say the sinner's prayer and you're saved." He used scripture, and what he said was not untrue.. It just had very little substance to it at all. And my dislike to the flawed theology to "repeat the sinner's prayer" is a discussion for another day. It's certainly not something I would expect my unsaved neighbors or friends to respond to. God forbid I would try to quench the Holy Spirit because He can and does work miracles.. but it would seem like a miracle to me if it made a lasting impact... half the time, up in the nosebleeds at least, you cannot even fully make out what he is saying. I didn't expect revival to break out. I was just hoping it would come off as kind of a half-hearted attempt. And it did.

Then it was back to brief acknowledgements that we recognized one or two songs from radio. More commercials.. and then it was 10:30 pm and there were still three acts to go, so we left. Granted the last three acts were not groups that we cared much for in the first place. But we cared more about not being trampled by 10,000 teenagers who just finished their 3rd Mountain Dew.

So we aren't planning on going back. Not unless they make some changes.

I will acknowledge two things.

1. They are successful every year. They sell out or come close almost every time. So they are marketing it well, and lots of people, mainly kids, are entertained and satisfied enough to come back. Which brings me to the 2nd acknowledgement...

2. I'm not the target audience. You can ignore everything I just wrote up till now if you take into account that I am 36 years old and I was in the minority by a long shot. Just ask the 9 year old kid that was kicking the back of my chair all night. The girls said they had fun last night. When I took my nephew several years back he had fun. So maybe the truth is that I was not supposed to be the one that was happy about the show.

But that's why I don't complain to my eight year old, I come on here and add it to the internet where all negativity is supposed to go.

So in conclusion, if you are a thinking adult.. Winter Jam sucks bad. If you are a young kid, like I once was: Winter Jam is super cool.

But yeah.. it sucks. Avoid it if you possibly can.