Christian Education for Everyone

Christian Education Is Important

Christian education must be important at Mt. Calvary.  Ten years ago, we built a school building in part because our old school was land locked, and God's saints here saw potential for growth of both the school and the church by moving.  I assume Christian education is important because we spend a couple hundred thousand dollars to support our Lutheran elementary school every year.  I can only assume Christian education is important to our membership, who generously support the work at our school with their offerings.  The reason Christians place so much importance on Christ centered education should be obvious--we want our children to know about Jesus Christ.  Christian parents love when Jesus is at the center of their child's education.  But this post is not about our school.  This post is about Christian education and you.

 

 

My Christian Education

Until I entered 4th grade, I attended public school.  As far as I know, my teachers were excellent.  I got what I believe to be a good education, learning math, reading, writing...everything you would expect.  I don't ever remember feeling unsafe at school or getting bullied.  I didn't like the bus ride.  I suppose that was the one place where I didn't feel comfortable with the kids around me (they were older and got a little rowdy sometimes).  Of course, we didn't have a morning devotion or chapel at school.  We didn't pray together; we didn't sing hymns.  I was pretty young, so I could have forgotten, but I don't remember learning about evolution (outside of music class, of all things!).  We also had some other weird, spiritualistic, new age exercises that we did in music class too.  I have no doubt that as I got older what I learned in school would have further differed from what I learned at home.  I am thankful to the Lord that when I entered 4th grade, our church, St. Paul's Lutheran in Beverly Hills, Florida, completed a Lutheran elementary school for me to attend.  At St. Paul's Lutheran Elementary School, Jesus was central to everything.  I was so happy, and now am so thankful, for the gift that the members of St. Paul's gave to me and the other students that attended the school (the first year--one room, one teacher, 1st-8th grade, 16 kids).  St. Paul's certainly didn't have all the bells and whistles, but it had the One Who is essential--Jesus Christ.

 

 

Christian Education at Home

So when did my Christian education start?  Did it start when I started St. Paul's in 4th grade?  No, my Christian education began when I was very young.  My parents brought me to church every week and taught me to sit in church.  Christian education happened every night when we read devotions; every time that we prayed together at meals or bedtime; whenever my mom or dad would sing a hymn to me at night.  I still remember learning my first Bible passage (John 3:16 of course).  I didn't learn it at church or Sunday school.  My Dad taught me at our living room table.  Even after I was in school at St. Paul's, I remember my mother helping me learn my memory work by erasing words from a white board.  Christian education happened at home.  And it didn't only happen when we were engaged in religious activities or thoughts.  Every time my parents spoke to me, or my siblings, or to each other in front of their kids, Christian education happened.  Every time my parents spent money, or explained why they weren't going to buy us this or that.  Every time they talked about other people, Christian education happened.  Every Sunday when we got up and got ready to go to church, Christian education happened.
 

Parents Are Responsible for Christian Education

A misconception floating around may be that teachers and pastors are responsible for the Christian education of children.  I would not argue that pastors and teachers should be part of the Christian education picture, but the greatest responsibility still lies with mom and dad.  God gives parents such responsibility clearly in Scripture.  "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).  Timothy's mother and grandmother brought him up in the faith (2 Timothy 1:5).  God commands the Israelites, "Fix these Words of Mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth" (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

 

 

Christian Education and School

The term "Christian Education" has become somewhat synonymous with the term "Lutheran Elementary School."  I believe we may be doing ourselves a disservice if we understand these two terms to mean the same thing.  Christian education happens at a Lutheran elementary school.  I hope and pray that an education about Christ and His Word is the lifeblood of every Lutheran elementary school.  But many people have received Christian education outside the walls of Lutheran elementary school classrooms.  Many graduates from elementary school (Lutheran or otherwise) continue to receive Christian education at their churches--from their pastors, through personal Bible reading, at Bible study with fellow Christians.  These services are free and available to everyone.  God has provided many opportunities for us to receive more education about Him long after we graduate.
 

Christian Education and You

If we consider Christian education important for our children, shouldn't it be important for us too?  If it is important for our children to learn the Bible stories in Sunday school, shouldn't it be important for us to learn to apply God's Word to ourselves and our families in Bible class?  If we pay hundreds or thousands of dollars a year to enroll our children in a Christian school, shouldn't we show it is important for us as parents by attending church and Bible class regularly?  You are teaching your children something without saying a word every time you drop them off for Sunday school and leave.  You are teaching them that Christian education is for children, not adults.  Should we then be surprised when they, as adults, leave the church?  Of course, your Christian education is important for more than just an example to your children.  God urges us through the apostle Peter, "Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:17-18).  Knowing Jesus is important for us.  Lawless men, false prophets, will try to distort the Word of God and lead us astray.  If our knowledge is shallow, they may topple us from our secure position with Christ.  Continued Christian education, which happens through personal Bible study and devotional reading, as well as joint Bible study with fellow believers is important for you.  "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I have not loved Your Word as I should.  I have been lazy in educating myself more about You.  I have been satisfied with a shallow knowledge of You.  Lord, renew my zeal to know You better.  Open Your Word to me and grant understanding into it and wisdom by it.  Forgive my failings as a spouse and parent for the times that I have led my family astray without even saying a word.  Give me opportunities to show my children and spouse how important You and Your Word of truth are to me.  Through the Christian education that I receive through my church at worship and Bible study, make me a sharper instrument of iron for Your Kingdom.  In Your Name Jesus I pray.  Amen.

The Problem Is Priorities

Too Busy?

     We had a discussion in Bible study the other week about how busy people are, especially families with children.  Oftentimes both parents work outside the home, children have multiple extra curricular activities, social activities abound.  That's just the tip of the busyness iceberg.  People are busy!  In Bible class the question was raised: Are people too busy?  The insinuation was made that busyness keeps people from worship and Bible class, from personal Bible study and prayers.  Do our people have too much to do?  I would propose that the problem is not busyness, but priorities.

Poor Priorities

     When I was in college, I worked for a summer at the Kraft Oscar Meyer meat packing plant in Davenport, Iowa.  I was summer help, which meant I had no control over my schedule.  I had to work the shift they assigned to me.  I was nervous when I found that out because I had a wedding I was standing up in toward the beginning of the summer.  If work scheduled me on that day, I would have to show up, or they would fire me.  I had resolved in my mind that if I got put on the weekend shift, I would try to ask off, but the likelihood of that happening was slim.  If I couldn't get off, I would have to quit and find another job.  The wedding was my priority.  I had made a commitment to stand up in the wedding, and I wasn't going to back out a month before the ceremony.  Fortunately, the shift for which I was scheduled allowed me to attend the wedding.  But then after the wedding my shift changed.  I was moved to weekends.  I didn't mind working weekends, except that I missed church every week.  I wasn't in the heart of WELSdom...the local WELS churches only had Sunday morning services.  Because of my work schedule, I missed church for about 2 months that summer.  At first I did feel very guilty about missing church. We rarely ever missed when I was a kid, and the Lord gave me the conscience to continue that habit.  To try and compensate, I increased my daily Bible study and study of the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord.  I justified my decision to miss worship with the rationale that it was only temporary and I really didn't have a choice.  But I did have a choice.  In fact I had already made up my mind that work would not keep me from my friend's wedding.  Work did keep me from worship for 2 months.  That was the choice that I made.  Work took priority over worship.

Worship Habits Can Be Clues

     Now I'm not saying I stopped being a Christian during the time I chose work over worship.  Looking back I believe my decision did show a lack of spiritual maturity and trust in the Lord.  If I had chosen to seek employment elsewhere, would the Lord have failed to provide?  I don't think so.
     I don't want to make it seem like missing public worship is a worse sin than any others or that missing public worship is always a sin.  Circumstances will sometimes keep a person from worship without sin.  Some people are kept from worship because of health issues.  Some serve our country in the military and are deployed to places where they cannot worship with like-minded Christians.  Some have jobs that schedule impossible hours.  I don't want to put undo guilt on those whose hearts long to be with the people of God but are truly unable.  This is for those of us whose hearts do not love the house of the Lord.  This is for the rest of us who do have a choice but make the wrong choice.  The Godly choice might be a hard choice.  Maybe it means missing out on fun activities or a higher paying job or family time.  But God does command us to meet together.  "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He Who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God" (Hebrews 10:23-27).  If God is not our first and highest priority, then repentance is in order.  Out of place priorities are often seen in worship attendance habits.

Jesus' Priorities

     Jesus was never too busy.  He was never too busy for the crowds that needed Him.  The apostles had just returned from their mission journey.  Jesus sent them out "to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick" (Luke 9:2).  They returned and reported to Jesus what they had done, and Jesus took them with Him to a solitary place (Luke 9:10).  Jesus wanted time alone with His disciples.  He wanted them to share their experiences and the joy that was theirs through the preaching of the Gospel.  But the crowds found Him and flocked in droves to see Him!  Jesus doesn't turn them away.  He doesn't invite them to return another time.  He welcomed them (Luke 9:11).  Jesus always had time.  He made time for what was most important.  And that meant time in God's house too.  It was Jesus' custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16).  It was a regular occurrence in Jesus' ministry for Him to go off by Himself to pray (Luke 4:42; Luke 4:18; Matthew 14:23; Luke 22:41).  Jesus was never too busy to do the will of the Father.  "I always do what pleases Him," Jesus says in John 8:29.  Jesus' always prioritizes the will of His heavenly Father first.  Jesus' life is the one that God expected us to lead.  Jesus' life is one like to that which we needed for God to look favorably on us.  Jesus' gives His righteous life to us and for us.  "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).  "My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40).  Light and life have come to us who once walked in darkness!  His name is Jesus Christ!  He is why we worship!  In Him we have eternal life!  He is why we love to gather together with God's people to worship God together for salvation from sin in Christ.  He is light and life for the world, and especially for those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10).

Renewed Priorities

     We strive to make our God the first and greatest priority in life.  We can be busy and still do that.  In fact, I would suggest that busyness is a good thing.  "Idle hands are the devil's workshop."  It is not in the Bible, but it is generally a true statement.  Read Proverbs 31 - the wife of noble character.  She is busy!  Proverbs against laziness are scattered throughout that Book.  Paul shared this rule with the Thessalonians, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  Busy is not bad.  God wants us to be busy with His work, working in His kingdom.  Jesus was busy.  He wasn't idle, He was always doing His Father's will.  Busy is good.  Be busy working for God.  Busy yourself with learning about God in the Bible.  Make Him your priority.

Good Example

     I think my parents did a good job teaching me about prioritizing God and worship first.  When I was in grade school, I played on a club soccer team.  We were pretty good and traveled all over the state of Florida for games.  We played and practiced almost all year round.  Club sports were not nearly as crazy then as they are now, with games and tournaments almost every Sunday morning, but there were quite a few tournaments that had Sunday morning games.  Now we didn't have midweek services at our church, so you either went on Sunday or not at all.  Yet, I only remember missing church once.  We either went to a WELS church close to where the tournament was held, sometimes missing a game, or we skipped the tournament.  Church was the priority.  Going to church was never in question.  I never wondered whether we were going to church on a given Sunday.  I never wondered if I could get away with sleeping in and skipping church.  We went to church and Bible study or Sunday school.  Period.  My parents gave me a conscience for going to church, and I am grateful to them for that!  They passed on good worship habits to me.  No matter how busy we were, worship of God with fellow Christians came first.  They didn't have to tell me that church was important.  They showed me.  Thank you Mom and Dad!

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, our priorities are often divided between You and other people or things.  Forgive us for not making You our chief and greatest priority.  Forgive us for divided hearts.  Your priorities were never divided.  You always did the will of the heavenly Father.  You did that to bring glory to Your Father and to accomplish our salvation.  Thank You!  Lead us to worship You always with lives of private and public worship.  Keep us busy with Your work.  We pray in Your name.  Amen.