Does Homeschooling Deny the Missional Life?

Helen Lee, a friend of ours, is a homeschooling mom who wrote a book called The Missional Mom. She works at educating her children into a missional life.

Tony Jones, a friend of ours, believes homeschooling denies the missional life. Here are some of Tony’s words from his re-post at his site today, where you can read the whole post:

What do you think? Does homeschooling prevent the missional life?

But it seems to me that if I am truly committed to living a missional life, then I must enroll my kids in the public school. That is, I am committed to living a life fully invested in what I might call the “Jesus Ethic” or the “Kingdom of God Ethic,” and also fully invested in the society — in fact, you might say that I live according to the Kingdom of God for the sake of society….

Similarly, formal education was formerly for the societal elite. But in a democracy, education is for all, with the understanding that the more educated we all become, the more humane we will be toward one another (this, of course, is open to debate).

So it seems to me that to withdraw my children from public education is to not play my (God-given) role as a missional member of society — like I can’t just choose to withhold my taxes. We give our children all those vaccinations when they’re young not necessarily to protect themfrom polio (since the chances of any one of my children getting it is exceedingly small) but because we live in a society, and part of the contract within the society is that we will never again let polio gain a foothold.

So I can’t think, “I’ll just pull my kids out of the public schools — what difference will one less follower of Jesus make in a school full of hundreds of kids?” I don’t, as a Christian, have the option to “opt out” of the societal contractInstead, I live under a mandate to be the most involved, missional societal participant that I can be.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Neil

    If I may pick a bone, I would argue that it would be under similar logical conclusions that one would be compelled to send one’s child to a private school, in order to live a missional life to those who are withdrawing from mainstream society. Furthermore, one could use it to argue that a parent who stays home to watch their children is not living a missional life. Is this what he is willing to argue?

    There is more than one option for missional opportunities for children. Sports, scouting, any other community organizations all serve as an opportunity for children to learn to live a missional life. Just because your children are educated at home, does not mean your children are sheltered at home and never left to enter into the community and interact with other people in need of Christ.

  • http://stevengaines.wordpress.com/ Steven Gaines

    Can the homeschooling community be as much a context for missional living as public education is?

  • MatthewS

    But in a democracy, education is for all, with the understanding that the more educated we all become, the more humane we will be toward one another (this, of course, is open to debate).

    So the problem is that homeschooled students are less educated and consequently less humane? I don’t think that’s his point, but one could be forgiven for reading the sentence that way.

  • Stell

    I think Tony Jones is full of hooey and incredibly condescending toward homeschoolers. Can single people live a missional life? Can childless couples? There is no societal contract to send your children to the local public school.

  • MatthewS

    I think there is merit to the concern of one’s children being missional, and that parents should take the time to weight it. And not just missional to those outside the faith but also being an encouragement to other people of faith in a given school system.

    However – there are parents who move in order to make a better school district available to their kids. Other parents enroll their kids in charter schools or private schools. These are also forms of removing your children from a place in society that needs a witness.

    But is it always a real dichotomy, that you must make the “most missional” decision over against your child’s benefit? Is it not possible that you might choose to provide what you believe is the best mode of education for your child, be it home, private, charter, parochial, or public, with a long-term benefit to both your family and to society?

    I love the idea of a Christian kid being a witness in public school but I see two mediating realities. First, I watch my son in Boy Scouts, 4H, and other places of involvement in the community. The impact of one person is not invisible, but developmental psychologists describe group dynamics that happen in schools, and there is a powerful pressure to conform to concentric circles of social groups. Those who are in the group must abide the group’s rules at the expense of being shunned, isolated. Perhaps if such a thing happens, even there a kid might be a silent presence, but I have to wonder at the cost vs. benefit.

    Second, there are other ways to be involved in society apart from one particular public school. Perhaps a strength of a local church might be weaving a social fabric of Christian youth across the spectrum of the various schools those youth attend, benefiting the individuals themselves and helping them benefit the various places they spend their time outside of the church community.

  • http://paulwilkinson.wordpress.com Paul Wilkinson

    I saw the post title, and when you phrase it like that, there’s really only one logical answer…
    …But I read Tony’s words anyway, having missed that one on his blog.

    Especially liked, ” I don’t, as a Christian, have the option to “opt out” of the societal contract;” but I’m wondering if there are other areas where that applies that we’re missing.

    And where does this leave the non-homeschooling but Christian-schooling person?

  • Rob

    Wow. As a parent of three who is committed deeply to discipleship and the great commission, I have to challenge this viewpoint. It appears to ignore, as much of the church does, that a parent’s primary discipleship responsibility is in respect to his/her family. All too often, when we hear the call to make disciples, we overlay the thought that we must go out and reach “them.” However, given that true discipleship happens in relationship, with large blocks of time spent together (look at Jesus…), the most obvious but too often neglected mission field is with our kids. Moreover, I take it as a step of obedience – not only looking at the familial instruction component of Deut 6, but also as I think about the qualifications of elders. In that passage, it’s as if God is saying by inference that we’re to focus on discipleship within the home before we expand our vision and missionary zeal outside of it. Part of discipleship is about bringing the student to walk in the reality of the kingdom of God. And part of that is teaching them according to their unique make-up. What that translates into, in my mind, is evaluating what will achieve that the best for each child. There is no cookie-cutter solution to be had.

  • Dave

    I think there are serious errors in his thinking. For one, democracy and universal public education are not (nor should they be) linked as he suggests.

    More seriously, I think he confuses his duty to be missional by extending it to his children. I think that children are minors and by extension we adults are the “majors” and thus are responsible for living and showing the missional life to our kids. It is not yet the children’s responsibility to be missional when they are often not mature enough to have made decisions on these things for themselves, much less able to explain and defend it to their peers.

    I think looking at it in terms of missional put the maturity cart before the horse and it is much more appropriate to frame the discussion in terms of who get to train your children how to be missional, you or the gov’t.

    FWIW, I haven’t developed a fully formed opinion of homeschooling, so I am neither for or against it

  • JoeyS

    It depends on how you understand missional.

    If missional means spreading information about Jesus then you can homeschool and do that just fine.

    If missional means ordering your life around principles and practices that model Jesus’ way of life then it may be harder to homeschool and do that.

    What I mean is that if we are seeking to kick against the goads of a society that systematically oppresses entire groups of people (I heard Condi Rice recently say that if you tell her your zip code she can tell you if you’ll go to college or not) then we will live in a way that under-girds and supports people who have less relational, monetary, or systemic capital. Choosing to support public education helps the tide rise, especially for students who come from families that don’t value education. Choosing to invest your energy and time into a school system helps the school system get better. If all parents that cared about their children’s education pulled out of the education system what is left for those students who aren’t as fortunate?

    As followers of Jesus I think a missional approach to life is one that uplifts not just our families, but our neighbors and communities.

    Of course I would never begrudge a parent for taking their children out of an unsafe environment. If a child is being bullied and the school can’t or won’t stop it, by all means homeschool or find another option.

  • Angie

    The poor logic aside…

    I can’t help but wonder if the author has any genuinely close relationships with homeschoolers or if he is working from a very skewed idea of homeschooling families and what they do.

    Can we only be missional in one context? Public school?
    Are we not missional if we take are children on foreign mission trips to volunteer to build, feed, teach, minister, etc.?
    We live rurally, but are we not missional if our children volunteer in one of our closest largest city’s Title I schools (minority populated, considered at risk because of poverty, non-English speaking, immigrant status, etc.)?
    Are we, myself and my homeschool children, not missional when we read to them? Coach them? Play with them? Do art with them? Do science projects with them? Encourage them? Speak life to them and give hope?
    Are we not missional when we volunteer for field day, give them lots of fun, and run, dance, skip, hop, slide, speak respectfully, smile at them, give snow cones, express the love of Jesus, etc.?
    Are we not missional when we help teachers in the classroom, tidy up their rooms, empty trash, run errands, provide supplies, or give an encouraging word, etc?
    Are we not missional when we volunteer one Saturday a month for years to package up boxes of food and distribute to those in need or ring the Salvation Army bell each December or collect canned goods in our area and donate to the food banks?
    Are our children not missional when they volunteer one Saturday a month and one Monday a month for years in a legally binding juvenile justice program for Class C-misdemeanor offenders and give their time either as a peer juror, peer mentor and advocate, or other courtroom attendant. Is my child not missional when he represents the state or advocates for the defendant and is assigned his or her peer mentor throughout their time in the program and stands in court to help them give his or her perspective and bring to light mitigating circumstances, if any?
    Are we not missional when as a parent we serve on the board of various non-profit organizations, assess needs, organize fundraisers, and create programs?
    Are my children not missional when volunteering at the nursing home, the library, and dozens and dozens of other venues and organizations in our community throughout their homeschool careers?
    Are we not missional on a public park soccer field since it is not a public school soccer field?
    Are we not missional at 4-H, Boy Scouts, martial arts classes, ballroom dance classes, art classes, science classes, swimming lessons, on the college campus for dual credit high school students, and all the many varied organizations, venues, and causes in which homeschoolers volunteer or participate and do all they do for the glory of God or in Jesus’ name?

    If not, then I guess, I don’t know this word missional.

  • Phil Miller

    I really think that what a parent teaches kids about how to interact with other people is much more important than whether a kid is homeschooled or not. I went to public school, but I was never really engaged at all with the kids I was in class with. To be honest, I often thought that because I was a Christian, I was simply better than them, and it was sort of beneath me to interact with them. I had a few that I was kind of friends with, but my closest friends were always in the church and in youth group. So even though I was in the public school system I was rather sheltered. I grew up in the AoG, and the emphasis on “personal holiness” tends to be a driving force. Heck, I never even went to any of the roller skating parties for my school because they were on Wednesday nights, and I had to be in church.

    So really, in my case, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. Overall I’m glad I wasn’t homeschooled (I don’t think I could have stood that much time with my parents…). I just thin every situation is different. I really think it’s a bit much to be pressuring kids to be little missionaries and evangelists in the public school system. I heard this ALL THE TIME growing up, and I constantly felt guilty that I wasn’t telling my classmates they were bound for hell.

  • Steve Billingsley

    So many errors in Jones’ statement….it assumes that kids who are homeschooled have no interaction with society (or with children their own age). What about Scouts, sports teams, music lessons, local theater or the kids that live next door or down the street?

    And exactly how does he define “being missional”? Does that mean 8 year old kids need to be proselytizing their Jewish or Muslim classmates? None of my neighbors work at the same company that I do…can I not “be missional” toward them?

    Just a muddled mess of thinking that has so many assumptions built-in that aren’t spelled out. And those assumptions (whatever they are) would say much more about Jones than about some caricature of homeschooling families that exists in his head.

  • http://rising4air.wordpress.com MikeK

    To answer the second question: No. We homeschooled our children: If anything, ours became more engaged with the community through service to those children for whom parental involvement was negligible or truncated in some fashion: they developed friendships and enjoyed sharing their gifts of reading with other children; they asked my wife and I important questions about God in the lives of their peers. We prayed together with and for their friends.

    Some of what Jones has to say is OK, and some of it assumes too much about what our children can enact in mission: not to mention whether the kinds of education he presumes can promote and develop being and becoming humane among children.

  • http://dsimmer.com Dean Simmer

    My parents took me out of our public school system after grade 6 and we homeschooled the rest of middle and high school. Both of my younger siblings were taken out of the public school system at the same time (grade 3 and kindergarten). I went to college, graduated, and teach in a private inner-city Catholic high school for low-income families. I’ve seen the whole gamut of K-12 education in this country.

    I submit Jeremiah 29 for our consideration here. Tim Keller uses it a lot to talk about the church in the city, and I wonder if we as Christians should consider it here. Working for the peace of the city requires that we work for our schools to be safe places where healthy learning takes place every day. Many of the homeschoolers I grew up around treated the public and private non-sectarian schools as the devil’s playground. It wasn’t a missional or Christian approach to be sure.

    I think we, as Christians, need to fully embrace the school systems that exist and work for their betterment. That said, I think homeschooling really works for some people and I know that I had plenty of challenges growing up that couldn’t be accommodated in our local public school district.

    Dismissing Jones as “hooey” isn’t helpful either. In this case, he’s pushing families to think about the fullness of being a Christian family in society. In my experience, this is sadly lacking in many of the homeschooling communities today.

  • Kel

    Do we really expect children to have the critical faculties to be able to correctly interpret the value system and worldview out of which they are being taught? I want my children to be salt and light to the world. I also don’t want them to get swallowed up into a world that hates the light for 7-8 hours at a time and spend the entire evening trying to figure out what they were taught so I can undo anything that directly opposes the faith. We are not releasing mature, spiritually transformed children into our public schools, but kids who typically believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy until they are 7-8. How are they going to refute a teacher who smilingly, politely informs them that (insert unbiblical value or teaching here)?

  • Phil Miller

    Do we really expect children to have the critical faculties to be able to correctly interpret the value system and worldview out of which they are being taught? I want my children to be salt and light to the world. I also don’t want them to get swallowed up into a world that hates the light for 7-8 hours at a time and spend the entire evening trying to figure out what they were taught so I can undo anything that directly opposes the faith.

    My thought with this is that you can only protect children from hearing dissenting views for so long. As a former campus pastor, I tend to believe that it’s better if it happens earlier rather than later. Because once a kids hits college, than the crap will really hit the fan. I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve seen who’ve come from “good Christian homes” totally turn away when they get to school. They were just never prepared to deal with what they were going to deal with.

  • Kel

    Fine, but Kindergarten? 1st grade?

    I have no problem protecting my kids and I probably don’t do it as well as I should. It is impossible for them to not be exposed to certain things over time, but why immerse them in an environment where there are no controls?

    We have been, and will continue to, home school our four children in community with other like-minded parents concerned to raise our children to be disciples of Jesus–so I shouldn’t in any way feel like I need to offer a defense of home schooling. I am more angered by people like Tony Jones who feel it is necessary to shoot at Christians striving to produce godly children, using home schooling as a means to train them in virtue.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Phil Miller,

    I agree that many kids who come from “good Christian homes” totally turn away from church when they get to college. But I don’t know that is an issue with homeschooling per se. Statistically, the large majority of kids from evangelical Christian homes still attend public schools. Over 70% of all school age children attend public schools. I have been involved in campus ministry as well. And I don’t think that the issue with college kids from Christian homes leaving the church has nearly so much to do with not being prepared to deal with dissenting points of view. Just as often kids got into drinking, partying and sexual activity and drifted away (sometimes with parting shots at “judgmental Christianity”). Sometimes these kids come back before college is over, more often they come back when they get married and start families (amazing how much parenthood clarifies one’s point of view). Homeschooling isn’t some panacea that immunizes kids from the temptations of society at large and it isn’t some terrible plague that sets kids up for failure, either. It has it’s advantages and its pitfalls. And to bake it all in one big pie is pretty ridiculous.

  • JoeyS

    OK I’ll put this in form of a question.

    To those of you who homeschool, and I mean this with all sincerity of interest, how does homeschooling improve your community?

    I know plenty of home-schoolers. Many have volunteered at my organization which seeks to connect the church with people who are in need. I have no qualms with homeschoolers and most of them are ridiculously well educated. But, as I asked earlier, what good is it if all the parents who care about their children’s education (because many parents, regrettably, don’t) pull their children from the public school system how does that help the community? When parents care and are involved in the public school system of their children it raises the quality of education for all involved, especially those not fortunate enough to have other options for quality education.

    Tony seems to be using missional in a way that makes room for systemic issues to come to bear in our considerations. Of course you can homeschool and be involved in your community in positive ways. But, what if homeschooling by its very nature reduces the quality of education in your community? Your presence in the community either raises the tide for others or lowers it. There are no neutral members of the community.

    We do this all the time in other areas of our life: we create ghettos by choosing to live in gated communities then bemoan the social ills birthed in those ghettos. We buy clothing made by slaves and complain when prices are too high but we sponsor missionaries who work to end slavery. If we aren’t paying attention to how our choices impact our community and our society we end up feeling pretty good about our ability to be “missional” whilst making life choices that perpetuate systemic ills. As Peter Rollins puts it, we’re like batman who beats up people on Friday nights, bringing enough resources to bear to fund a small army when we could use the same resources to fund education and improve the opportunities of people trapped in poverty in our community. Beating the criminals helps us feel like we’re doing good while allowing us to continue living a lifestyle that is dependent upon the oppression and failure of others.

    OK, I went a wrote too much and it is all rambling anyway. The end.

  • Chad H

    Homeschooling families are an easy target for the more-missional-than-thou crowd.
    There are reasons for opting out of public school that do have the greater societal good in mind.
    Our eldest child attends an online school because her potential to contribute through math and science is nurtured far better in an online school than through public school (which kept her locked into grade-level learning). She is able to learn at her own pace and she is free to travel, serve, and learn outside the restrictive gravity of the public school calendar. She attends online school with other kids who (freed from the public school lockstep nonsense) are on the mission field, excelling in the arts, serving, traveling, and being real people.

  • http://David scott.david.w@gmail.com

    Ah, misconceptions about homeschooling abound…

    But for someone known for third-way thinking, I’m surprised at Tony’s binary assumption that public-school=missional/private-school=unmissional. Homeschooling certainly allows us to assert a third way when it comes to involvement with our community and public education system.

    A few examples, perhaps:
    - When the neighborhood kids are huddled in the rain at the bus stop, who jumps in the car and takes them to school since their parents are already at work. My wife and I do.

    - When a kid misses the bus and no one is at home to get them to school, we take them.

    - Because many of our neighbors are single parent families, and mom works long days, who helps with homework in the afternoon? We do.

    - When a young man, the child of a single mom, needs to tie a tie for an ROTC function, where does he come? Me.

    - When moms know they need help in case of emergencies, because of work schedules, who is the emergency contact for their kids at school? Who goes to pick the kids up, and cares for them when they’re throwing their intestines up at school? You got it.

    - When a single mom has gotten to the point with her teenage son that she has no influence over him, and needs help, who goes to the parent/teacher conferences? Who does she send him to when he skips school, won’t get out of bed, or gets a failing report card? You got it.

    - When a kid doesn’t have a computer or printer and needs to do research or type a paper, where do they come? Our house.

    - When a single mom lost her house last year to foreclosure, and wanted her son to stay in our local school, who took him in for the year? We did.

    - When a family gets stuck at work, and kids can’t get in the house after school; or when a kid comes home and there’s no food at dinner time, who feeds him/her? You bet (sometimes families of up to 7 kids).

    - We’ve walked closely with several neighborhood kids over the years, going to games, band concerts, graduations, parent teacher conferences, you name it – because we’ve invested not just in their education, we’ve invested in their lives.

    I’m not sure we could not do this if we were tied to public education. And our own kids are living the missional life, living it through each of these situations.

    And for the record: our current method of pubic education is a very recent development in the history of societies in general. Is Tony saying that families weren’t missional before public education was invented?

  • http://www.h2ochurch.com Bryan Wiles

    I am a pastor who’s kids attend public school at this point but this article may be one of the most unconvincing I have ever read on the subject. I cannot understand how either side of this debate can claim a “mandate.” This seems beyond small minded to me. Of course, we will all have our preferences, but so much of the decision comes down the specific situation your family is in. When that simple fact is not recognized I start to lose interest in the conversation quickly.

  • Phil Miller

    Homeschooling isn’t some panacea that immunizes kids from the temptations of society at large and it isn’t some terrible plague that sets kids up for failure, either. It has it’s advantages and its pitfalls. And to bake it all in one big pie is pretty ridiculous.

    And I agree with this sentiment. That’s the point I was getting at. I don’t really think homeschooling kids with the purpose of shielding them from the world is necessarily a compelling reason to do so. They’ll be exposed to the world sooner or later.

  • LeslieS

    No one type of parent or type of education has the corner on being missional. I think the question is not whether or not you home school, but to what extent you model missional living to your children and involve your children in missional pursuits. If you choose to home school out of a desire to protect your child from the world and choose not be involved in your community is probably not being missional. If you choose to home school and use the freedom of schedule to provide your children with a variety of volunteer and service opportunities is probably being missional. However, that is not the only method of being missional as some would have you think. If you choose to send your children to public school by itself is not being missional unless you use it as an opportunity to be involved as part of your community. Likewise, public school might or might not be missional depending on what other involvement you have.

    For my family, we chose to send our children to public school where they do have the opportunity to be missional. They are also involved in 4-H and scouts which provides some missional opportunities. They also have missional opportunities through a variety of church programs and other activities we pursue as a family. They also see the missional being lived out through the involvement of my husband and I in a variety of community activities including school board.

  • Angie

    @JoeyS # “To those of you who homeschool, and I mean this with all sincerity of interest, how does homeschooling improve your community?”

    See my post at 10. There are so many more ways in which our family has been engaged in the community. Does hosting three families (strangers) for a total of 21 people in our home for two weeks after Hurricane Rita count? What about welcoming evacuees as they disembarked from buses after Hurricane Katrina? Buying, collecting, and delivering toiletries and other personal items to evacuees, and going to the facilities for weeks and weeks to cook, clean, play with and read to kids who had been evacuated? Or, help people connect and deliver them to other family members? Or, hosting evacuees in our home until they could be reunited. In our rural area, how else would my boys have met and engaged on an intimate level with Buddhists, from other countries, as we helped them reunite with their consulate or relatives. If this sample is not missional, then, again, I don’t know this word.

    I hope being intentional about being salt and light, engaging with others, meeting needs in Jesus’ name improves my community by giving hope and making lives better. More importantly, I hope it improves my community and the world by spreading the good reputation of Jesus because of what we do in his name for his sake. To further answer, I hope my community is improved by having citizens (my children) who have been given a good, well-rounded education with as many experiences possible to interact with a variety of people and to have varied learning experiences as our opportunities and finances allow. I hope it becomes generational, and they continue to embrace kingdom values and feel a sense of civic duty for the kingdom of Christ. The plan is that they become productive contributing members of our community who pay school taxes, gives an honest day’s work, or creates jobs, etc. You get the picture, no doubt.

    The quality of education was reduced long before the advent of HS’ling which as I understand was the impetus for the rise in HS’ling. There are many factors that affect the quality of education, so that can’t be laid at the feet of HS’lers.

    My issue with Jones’ post is his argument is based on a straw-man and a false dichotomy. Homeschoolers are not holed up in their homes with no cultural engagement, and hs’ing and missional living are not mutually exclusive. If Jones wanted to make an appeal for missional living, that’s a needed reminder whether your choice is home, public, or private. Just because your children are public or private school students does not mean the family is living missionally in that context. There must be intentionally about living out the values of Christ’s kingdom and there are many contexts and ways in which we can be about our kingdom civic duties.

  • Angie

    Please forgive the typos. I’m distracted, so all the more reason I should have slowed the pace and taken the time needed to proof after I made quick changes.

  • tom

    @JoeyS – Your question to homeschool parents implies that if parents put their children in the public schools it helps the community. So I’ll ask you this. If that is true then why would Former Secretary of State Rice (whom I also heard make that statement) say she could determine if you were going to college by your zip code? Does no one in that zip code put their children in public schools? Are there no Christians in that zip code who put their children in public schools? We both know that isn’t true for every zip code to which she was referring. There are many Christians who have their children in those schools. Putting ones children in a public school does not automatically improve the community.

    Should Christians care about the state of public education in the USA? You bet. Is the most effective way to make change putting your children in the system? Well I would say if that were true then we wouldn’t have the problem we currently have. Because there are many many many follower of Christ who do have their children in the public schools and they continue to go downhill. We need to do something. But the answer is most likely not getting all homeschool parents to have their children in those schools.

  • http://christian-intellect.blogspot.com Nick

    I was home schooled K-12 and I’ve heard this argument a thousand times. But why stop at schooling? “Missional ” people should let their kids go to R rated movies, bars, drug dens, and strip clubs, since there are non-Christians there. We should be a good influence on those people too. If you want to evangelize the public school, don’t expect little Billy to be strong enough in his faith to swim against the stream and change the culture from the bottom up. Instead we should be changing the schools as teachers, social workers, and principles. We don’t allow kids to drive before they’re 16 and we don’t send them off to war until they are 18. Why send them off to fight against world views and un-Biblical behaviors before they are fully developed?

  • Andrew

    Of course, in some cases, homeschooling enables the missional life. My family is moving to Chad, Africa next year. This is certainly the case for us.

    Also, some start homeschooling in the younger grades and migrate to public school in the higher grades, after their kids have some grounding in their faith and family. I think this middle-road sort of approach has some of the benefits of both types of schooling.

  • JoeyS

    @tom 27

    Part of the issue with those zip codes is not whether or not Christians are in those areas. As a society the well resourced have systematically fled those areas (some call this white-flight) leaving those communities with fewer resources for their schools. One of the three R’s of Christian community development is Relocation, an attempt to see missionally minded Christians move back to these areas to help raise the tide for everybody. When parents are involved in their children’s education, PTA’s and the like the whole tide rises. When people of all income levels choose to live together rather than creating gated communities surrounded by ghettos (if I might generalize) the community does better.

    I understand why many people homeschool and I know for a fact that many HS families are quite missional. That is not my issue. My issue is, how is homeschooling a missional choice? I’m not suggesting that you or Angie @#10 or whoever don’t do incredibly generous and missional things, and I commend the folks here who help other families and children get to school.

    What I’m suggesting is that when families invest in public schools it actually helps the community because parents that HS care about education and will advocate for high quality education for the community. Most low-income families do not have the financial, relational, or educational capital to choose to homeschool so public education is all they have. Most of the low income families I work with don’t value education in constructive ways (they may say they want their children to graduate but let them stay up too late, don’t hold them accountable for their homework, and don’t meet with their teachers to ensure that they are being held accountable). When families that do care about these things invest in public education it helps students who don’t have parents to advocate for these things. It also puts parents in relationship with families that may not care as much and peer pressure can be harnessed in positive ways.

    But again, if most of us (and I’m not making any accusations here) move to safe homogeneous places rather than intentionally seeking out economically and racially diverse communities these zip codes won’t change. Once in a while low income urban areas become sexy and lots of young white folks move in, but that displaces low income families rather than raising the tide.

    FCS in Atlanta has a pretty neat housing ministry that seeks to create mixed income communities that raise property values while seeking to keep living costs low for low income families. Some people get displaced but it is usually people who are creating social ills (drug dealers, etc.). http://chariscommunity.org/

    Rice can name these zip codes because the resourced have made a huge exodus away from them, relegating those who are left to fend for themselves. In a city near me many of the wealthy folks moved to the outskirts of the city and started their own school so they could avoid paying city taxes. The education in the city took a hard hit as a result. Thankfully the city eventually annexed this area. Now people are moving into the next county to avoid these taxes.

    I believe many HS families to be missional and beautiful families. I’m just not convinced that homeschooling is a particularly missional choice, even while I admit there are times when it is the right option for families.

  • JoeyS

    Here’s an example of a community investing in education in transformational ways. http://www.urbanfaith.com/2012/09/in-the-zone-geoffrey-canada-is-changing-the-odds-in-harlem.html/

  • http://aprilkarli.com AprilK

    I agree with those here who say Tony Jones must not understand what a homeschooling family’s life is really like. Otherwise he wouldn’t have jumped to so many false conclusions about homeschoolers and their lack of missional living.

  • Barb

    I completely agree with Tony’s stance on this. when I read the posts from the Homeschoolers above I think that they are the ones who have jumped to many false conclusions–and those seem to me to be driven by fear. some of you seem to believe that schools exist to turn your child away from his faith. School actually exist to teach children how to read, write, do math, understand history, science, etc. Most public school situations are not scary–many, many, many public school teachers are Christians. There are Christian principals and counselors etc. etc. all in the public school–ready to provide your children with a safe place to learn–and to learn that there are many kids that come from families that are different from yours. I’m sad that in what seems like a short period of time–20 years?–so many good people have left the public schools. If you were there you could be working with those of us who are there to help all kids. Where does this fear come from–I realize that in some poor areas the schools suffer. But I do believe that most of the fears that homeschool parents have are based on false information. I think that what JoeyS states above is a good assessment of the benefit of Christian families staying or returning to the public school.

  • Sue

    Wow. By the same logic, early Christians should have continued to participate in pagan festivals. Weren’t they being “non-missional” by refusing to participate in mainstream culture this way?

    What about all the churches that set up Christian schools in impoverished areas and countries in order to provide a solid education where it is severely lacking? Should those churches shut them down and just settle for what the state can provide, especially in areas where citizens have no say in what the state does?

    Where the heck is this coming from?

  • Michael

    Is Tony trying to increase blog traffic? A topic on homeschooling always stirs up the Christian crowd!

    I have a different question no matter whether you think homeschooling passes missional muster. Since when is “missional” our criterion for life? What happened to fruit of the spirit? To the Jesus Creed?

    And did anyone notice the odd juxtopision of this post with John Frye’s post earlier today? John noted how there was always the next “thing” that was the important key to being a pastor (CEO/Seeker/etc.) but none of it had an spiritual grounding. So we’ve got missional movements preceded by emergent criteria for life, preceeded by seeker churches, etc. I resonate with much of what the “missional” crowd says, but why do we keep making up these crazy fads to measure our faith and our churches?

  • http://www.theupsidedownworld.com Rebecca Trotter

    I can only speak of my own experiences. But one of the reasons I took my oldest out of school and ended up homeschooling him was because the school district made it very clear that we would have no influence on anything that went on in the school. It was up to my son to fit in and if I was a good parent this shouldn’t be a problem. They weren’t just unresponsive; they were actively hostile to any attempts to ask for even minor accomodations or changes to anything they were doing. So, this whole notion that by taking your kids out of public schools means taking your influence to improve the schools with you strikes me as absurdly rich. If I had any way to influence the schools, I wouldn’t have taken my kid out.

    OTOH, in the last few years, the pressure created by parents making the same choice I did and homeschooling has actually made the local schools better. We’re not a very large community and there were 200 families homeschooling. Way higher percentage wise than the average. So the school actually started approaching homeschool families and asking why they made the choice they did. They started offering ways for homeschool kids to be involved in the schools even if they weren’t attending fulltime. They got rid of the “Everyday Math” program they were using. Parents had been complaining about it for years, but it wasn’t until it was identified as one of the reasons people gave for taking their kids out of school that they took parent’s dissatisfaction seriously. Now the local school district has a person on staff whose job it is to help people who want to use public online schools as their homeschooling option. One of my kids is using this option and I was told specifically that the school district had a goal to reduce the number of kids being homeschooled by making improvements that would appeal to homeschool families.

    So again, it’s just my experience. But in my community homeschooling has proven to be the thing which has allowed parents to actually influence change in our local schools. My two daughters are in 1st and 2nd grade at the local public school. I hope it’s not just because they know that I homeschooled, but it’s a completely different experience than when I had my oldest at the local school for kindergarten. I feel like I can ask for and get appropriate considerations for my kids. Parental involvement isn’t just code for “do what we say”. Frankly, life is too complicated for these simplistic either/or ideas about we all should or shouldn’t be doing.

  • http://strangefigures.wordpress.com Sharon Autenrieth

    Tony’s post is entitled “Death to Homeschooling” (!), and is built on flawed stereotypes of homeschoolers and their place in community life. Thank God I don’t have to justify my parenting decisions to Tony Jones. That post is simultaneously so flawed and so judgmental that I hardly think it dignifies a response.

    But…to #19, how does homeschooling improve my community? You do realize, I imagine, that education, parenting, nurturing a child to adulthood – to engage in these activities, whatever choices you make, is to play the long game. I make decisions in the hopes of helping each of my children reach their full potential as adults. Sometimes, in our family, that has involved public schooling, sometimes homeschooling, and currently we have children in both “camps”. I absolutely think that Christian families should be supporting the public school system, but this can be done in many ways. Tomorrow, for instance, I’m going to buy school supplies for the teachers at our public middle school. However, I am persuaded that as a parent faithfulness to my task is not about where my 7 year old does her schoolwork. Instead, it’s about the kind of person she is becoming, and the woman that she will be in the world.

  • Elizabeth

    Andrew (#29) – Where in Chad are you going? My brother and his family are also moving there in January (to N’djamena with MAF)

    Obviously, no one choice is right for all families (or all kids in a family for that matter). That being said, I think there was a lot of sense in Barb’s comment (#33). Public schools are not usually the scary, anti-Christian places that some Christians seem to think they are. Some homeschooling families educate their kids very well (and are missional) and I have nothing but respect for them.

  • Sue G

    I really think most of these posts are missing the point. It has to do with being fully engaged with your neighbors, loving them and entering relationship with them and even being loved by them – entering wholeheartedly into the community’s experience, which in many cases is organized around local public schools. If we think being missional is about doing something to other people because we are better equipped, by virtue of our Christianness, then we are one-upping them, not loving them. I really think that’s his point: that by withdrawing from the public school we are already refusing to be part of the neighborhood, and if we respond that no, we come and deliver food to “them” and do things for “them,” so we are missional! then we’re just proving his point. Missionaries spend a long time in a different country trying to learn how to be part of the community, to not only welcome people into their home but to be welcomed into other homes, to *really* be part of the community, the warp and woof of it. I am sure it is possible to homeschool your kids and also work very very hard to have those relationships with your neighbors, and also possible to send your kids to public school and still hold yourself aloof. But I think I understand his challenge.

  • MatthewS

    I recall a spirited debate between a father and a son some years ago about American-made vs. foreign cars (things have changed a lot in the ensuing couple of decades). We were eating dinner at a restaurant and for a minute I thought we might get thrown out! The son argued that no patriotic American would ever purchase a foreign-made car, the dad maintained that if the product being produced domestically was inferior, then purchasing that product was simply propping up bad behavior. Round and round it went. I’m not sure who won but today that debate wouldn’t happen. There is hardly such a thing as a truly foreign or truly domestic vehicle, and they are both better quality than ever in many ways.

    Comment #36 reminded me of that debate. I think it might be fair to say that hopefully there is a sufficient group of people who are influencing schools in a positive way from within, and hopefully there are enough people doing something else to drive home the point that public schools are not prisons with a captive audience that has no other options.

  • D. Foster

    Derek, age 28, did homeschooled K-12.

    I’m surprised people still debate over this. I feel like I’m stating the obvious when I say some kids are better off in public school, others in private school, and others doing homeschooling. The idea that all Christians everywhere are all obligated to put their kids in public school is ridiculous–just as ridiculous as when people say that all Christians everywhere are obligated to homeschool their kids.

    –Derek

  • D. Foster

    …did homeschooling*

  • Mike M

    There are as many reasons for homeschooling as there are for raising and growing your own food. Am I not being “missional” because I’m not spreading God’s word at the local grocery store instead? Around here, there are many homeschooling groups whose members support and advise each other and arrange special events for the kids to attend. There is a great sense of community amongst the members.
    Then again, we know one Christian mom who pulled her son out of the public school system so she could “homeschool” him and he could work at McDonalds. Apparently, he could be missional there. Is trading McEducation for McDonalds a part of the Great Commission?

  • Andrew

    Elizabeth (#38), sorry I just caught your comment! Hope you get this. My family and I will be stationed in N’Djamena, though I’ll be making regular trips further afield. We’re with SIL Chad (better known here in the US under the banner of partner organization Wycliffe Bible Translators). Small world! What’s your brother’s name? And does he have young kids that mine (5/4/2) can play with? =) We’ll be in orientation in Cameroon Jan-Feb, then coming to N’Djamena right behind your brother….

  • Amanda B.

    I was homeschooled as a kid. My parents pulled me out of the public school system, not because of religious reasons, but because at my school (one of the best in our region, coincidentally), I was being under-challenged academically and bullied by my peers. Trying to get the school to address either situation was like pulling teeth. I’m old enough that my parents hadn’t even heard of homeschooling when I first began kindergarten, but when they did hear about it a few years later, they knew instantly that it was what I needed. I was becoming shut down socially, afraid of people thinking I was weird, and I was becoming disinterested academically due to being forced to do work that was several grades beneath my actual reading level.

    Short version: Homeschooling was the right choice for me. I was in no position to be salt and light in that context, because I was hurt and scared. Today, as an adult, I have no problem walking into a secular, and even hostile environment, because I was allowed the space I needed as a child to develop a root system. Our decision to homeschool had nothing to do with running away from society, but with making sure I could turn into a functional, well-balanced, educated adult in the future. And as many of the other homeschoolers above have said, my brother and I were enrolled in many extra-curricular activities, from local dance classes, to library reading programs, to neighborhood functions, community Little League, food drives, park building projects, art classes, choirs, and more.

    (It might also be mentioned that my Mom is certified in elementary education and has taught in both preschool and public elementary school.)

    True, there are selfish and over-sheltering reasons to homeschool. But there are also very legitimate reasons to homeschool. Being in public school does not guarantee a missional lifestyle, and being homeschooled does not preclude it. Families have a responsibility to their community, but parents have a responsibility to their children first. Ultimately, if the child will wither in public school (as I did), they should not be enrolled there. Some children thrive in public school, and in that case, there is no good reason to withdraw them.

    It’s no more reasonable to say that every missional Christian family should put their children in public school, than it is to say that adults should always have a job in the secular world, always run for municipal office, and should never go to seminary. Different people have different needs and different callings, and will be differently equipped to impact their community. Rather than passing judgment on which education/career paths best accommodate impact, I’d much rather that Mr. Jones focused on being missional in whatever education or career one finds oneself in.

  • Hamo

    One of the poorer pieces of logic I have heard in a while.

    Yes – we are homeskoolers and yes we are very committed to local mission.

    I have no idea how Tony can paint with so broad a brush!

  • bob c

    We homeschooled our kids.

    “Learning to learn” was a primary lesson. They can use computers and ipods. Check.

    “Education” was also important. We educated all our kids. Check.

    We vaccinated our kids. Check.

    We did not withdraw from society. We played with the neighbors. We participated in the town sports teams. We joined the local pool. Check.

    “It seems” to Mr. Jones that sending his kids to public school is a good idea. I have no problems with that.

  • http://plantingjesus.blogspot.com Burly

    What #47 (bob c) said (among others)! We’re currently homeschooling and deeply invested in the lives of our neighbors in our neighborhood. We’re in a missional order/community/church with other parents who are deeply invested in the public schools and the neighborhood and the sports teams. Because we function as a community of believers primarily – though individually we follow Christ.

    It’s my understanding that homeschooling couldn’t possibly be an option for Tony Jones, as it relates to his family circumstances. The argument seems extraordinarily dogmatic (that doesn’t make it wrong) and I am extraordinarily uncomfortable with the notion that democracy is given such power to inform how I must interact missionally in culture with my family. Am I missing something? Is he saying that? BTW, we may send our son to public school next year – it’s a good district – he’ll get a good education there if we do.

  • Katherine

    Amongst all the other reasons that commenters have already mentioned, some parents homeschool their children because the school does not have the resources and/or will to educate children who need particular accommodations.

  • http://plantingjesus.blogspot.com Burly

    In #48, I don’t think it was necessary for me to add “extraordinarily.” Please don’t get hung up on my use of that unnecessary adjective.

  • http://fromdiaperstodriversed.blogspot.com Holly

    Public school central to a missional lifestyle? I’ll believe it as soon as someone can show me where God designed public schools rather than families as the building block of society.

    How’s this for missional? Our homeschool Science Olympiad team participated in a competition along with 40 public/private schools. While scores were being tallied and adults otherwise preoccupied, students ran a comedy/talent showcase which quickly turned to ad-libbed raunchiness in an auditorium filled with hundreds of kids. All the boys on our team quietly excused themselves and walked out rather than listen to the filth. They were the only students to do so. You can’t convince me they were the only Christians in the room–why are the others so desensitized?

    How’s this for missional? When our church’s main campus childrens’ director needs help, she often calls my kids because she knows they have time during the week, thanks to their homeschool efficient schedule, to be able to serve.

    How’s this for missional? A church friend speculates that my teens are “unusual” because they don’t mind spending time with their parents. Many comment how well our kids interact with kids of all different ages. Maybe they are unusual in a broader cultural context, but they certainly are not unusual in this regard when compared to their home educated peers.

    How’s this for missional? My middle kid invites his entire soccer team to come to AWANA at our church.

    How’s this for missional? My kids invite neighbors to pray and support them as they go on short-term missions to inner city Chicago, inner city Philadelphia, inner city Nashville, San Juan PR.

    How’s this for missional? The home education allowed my kid to accelerate and compress his classes to start college classes at age 15. He has invited his professors to church. His professors remark on his preparation and dedication to excellence and learning that is largely absent among other college kids today.

    How’s this for missional? Our kids can shovel the neighbors’ driveways when they are off at work because service is part of our school day.

    How’s this for missional? Our school day incorporates Scripture memory and bible reading. A Christian worldview imbues every subject.

    How can I expect my kids to be missional if they don’t have an education grounded in Truth?

  • Elizabeth

    Andrew at #44. Yes – they have young kids :)
    Perhaps you can email me and I’ll tell you more and put you in touch with my brother.
    philandbethgmail.com

  • http://www.christfellowshipny.com jared

    This is actually not a new conversation. Those of us who were involved in urban mission and the related conversations about incarnational living in the city a couple of decades ago (before mission was mainstream!) might find this a familiar debate. I struggled with this, but I finely came to the conclusion that my child is not a theological statement. We live in the Bronx, the poorest urban county in the U.S. Like every other family in our urban neighborhoods, we’re fighting to do our best for her. That contract supersedes whatever Lockean philosophical claims to the contrary. We homeschool and we live a missional life. My daughter has accompanied me when we’ve gone into different homes to plant a new house church and has the opportunity to see brokenness on a daily basis or hear gun shots during a simple walk in the park. Forgive my tendency towards self-righteousness on this point, but if someone is making this argument from inner-city detroit or here in the Bronx or perhaps East L.A. or Houston’s 3rd Ward. I might be inclined to listen to 17th century Western philosophy applied to our family’s educational & missional practices.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Forgive the bluntness of my statement, but I wish more of the Christian kids in my kids public schools were home schooled because they totally turned my kids off to Christianity. My kids say they actively avoid them because they are so mean.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Let me just withdrawal that last comment. My bad mood is showing…

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Now to the point, I don’t find any merit in a blanket statement. There is no optimum.

  • Dan

    Clearly this is a man without a clue. He is paid by the opinion and that is all he has.

  • scotmcknight

    I’d like to weigh in with a few thoughts:

    1. Many in this thread equate “missional” with “being evangelistic.” This is precisely not the point Tony is making. I suspect Tony would see “missional” more in terms of the missio Dei of God to establish God’s kingdom. Tony’s approach, so it appears to me, is more Reformed in arguing the way to make that missional approach happen is through influence and presence in culture in order to reshape culture in a Christian direction.

    2. The homeschooling movement, in general but not in each case obviously, is more of an Anabaptist approach to education, etc, than a Reformed or Lutheran or Catholic approach. Yet, I find many in homeschooling who have a combined approach: an Anabaptist withdrawal from culture for formative education so the mature adult can influence in a more Reformed approach.

    That’s enough for now.

  • EricMichaelSay

    Age 28, homeschooled. Important to note I lived in 13 different residences and 3 states during my school years. When I went to public school in 2nd grade, I was embarrassed that I didn’t know my own address.

    This post is dumb. While I would argue homeschooler are disproportionately socially malformed, his argument holds no water.

    Can someone point me to a ‘missional’ article that defines the term? I’m growing tired of hearing it and the people who use it

  • RDH

    I don’t understand “missional.” Does everything we do have to be “missional”? I sent my kids to a small-town public school, as does my son. My daughter sends her children to Lutheran school. I never thought about “missional.” Neither of them is concerned about whether the kids are “missional.” As did I, they just want the kids to read, write and cipher well in a safe environment. The kids can learn to be “missional” in other ways.

    Nick at #28 makes good points. I try to be “missional” when I’m out drinking on Friday and Saturday nights, by handing out gospel tracts to folks in the bar. Also, I tell the shapely young ladies how good God was to them.

  • LMC

    This is an interesting discussion, I have not read over every comment but I would agree with those that suggest it is not really an easy one or the other. You can argue that depending on the situation or the circumstances or the larger vision overtime that it can benefit in both choices in different ways and much of it depends on the real motivations.

    But what stands out to me is the idea that Christians must do such and such. I know at some level in life there is the aspect of having to do what is best (or thought to be) even when one does not really want to but I think to limit Christianity to always giving everything away limits or even might embitter people. In this it seems to grow overtime into a religion of all work and no play and even those that are supposed to be on the receiving end simply begin to feel like inconveniences. Of course that is not a formula either or always true – like much of this conversation…can not be one way entirelly or another. But my main point is where there is a heart motivation in the sacrifice or not. If one is too empty then they should take a break and seek a space for themselves. What seems to be a deeper work of relational transformation is to always tie to the heart, teach children to, and always hope to see that in others – not to convert, fix or whathaveyou.

    For instance much of the work stirring within what we might label as “New Age” are shared teachings within the world about life, about questioning and seeking ideas about God, etc and this I have seen is connecting to a hunger among many young people that have always or often had these questions already and they watch, they listen, they want to learn.

    And this is happening among people in that group that are learning to listen to what is moving within their own curiosity – it is not first and foremost outward converting.

    I also know many in the Christian groups might be suspicious, nervous, etc about that but my main intent is to show that there are ways to stir and connect people within conversations that we are all mostly curious about already.

    I think some aspects of Christianity need to release some of this almost embittered weary work of fixing people – for their sake and others. It is making them hate the “chore”. But I also know it is not always that way either, there are some very loving Christians out there, many.

  • LMC

    I am sort of saying that maybe there is a time to just do what you really want to do or would enjoy doing and then allow those who have been ignited by the loving work to rise up, or trust that they not only want to but will, or have been, in a different form. It is like losing some control, that is also a Christ-like loving act.

  • LMC

    Hey so this is the third post – sorry – but this stirs some ideas of mine or my own experience.

    Something to think about in the scenario of one that does then try to decide to “quit” the work of Christianity: be it missional, be it volunteer work, etc, is this….If you were to quit, imagine it, can you?

    Can you quit and if not why? What this “self-permission” to quit this work revealed to me is this:

    It felt good and felt freeing to then pursue something else. More love grew in giving myself this permission – renewed for myself and for others.

    It revealed other reasons why I did the work, partially to help others but also to gain the approval of others in “better positions” and it felt like a threat to lose that approval and potentially then have those in “powerful positions” (in the community) reject me (which was or was not true). It revealed other ties to my work.

    When the church just tends to teach forced good deeds, does this create a fear to follow ones creative leading? Is there a control in always “having” to be the ones holding everything together? Is it true/false?

    Is America like this too – like we “have” to hold everything together? Is this true? Do we tend to create that then “have to” maintain that? How do we really gain relationship?

  • John Inglis

    “Does homeschooling prevent the missional life?”
    No..
    my kids are not pawns in my attempts to be missional. Blanket statements about what is or is not “missional” is like every other reformed attempt to make secondary or tertiary things primary. As Paul said about seasons, etc.–each to their own and no criticism from fellow Christians. Anything that is secondary should never be made with generalizations. Let each Christian work out what they believe is best in their situation. If they need advice, it’s not from some busybody making pronouncements, but from people who know them.

    J.

  • Jason

    I do not homeschool. My kids go to public school.

    There must be more to it, for this is very short sighted. Parents must cultivate a heart to love God and thus, to love their community. It matters not if you go to public school. What matters happens as parents live as disciples before their kids, demonstrating a love to seek and save the lost. Missional isn’t submitting your kids to whatever the culture welcomes but parents submitting their lives to live as salt and light, elevating Jesus, before their children and towards their community.

  • John I.

    Our obligation and responsibility to our kids, from God, is to make disciples of them, not to use them as a missional tool. They are ends in themselves, not tools. It is a very small view of missional that has problems with homeschooling, treating it as if it were a serious obstacle to being missional.

    J.

  • joe strube

    It seems Tony reads a lot of books and doesn’t spend a lot of time with kids, publics schools, or homeschool kids.

    As mentioned in the posts above – students are complicated and there is no ‘fits all’.

    Even more complicated is spiritual formation of students in the changing face of adolescent development, complicated family schedules, and an economy in which a family will have to make significant sacrifices in order to spend enough time with their children to see to their spiritual formation.

  • http://www.doulos.at/ Wolf Paul

    I see only two comments above touching on what I think is the biggest problem with Jones’ argument:

    He views children as resources, like money, which parents must use (spend?) for the good of the community and the furtherance of the gospel.

    But children NOT primarily resources.

    I never have any responsibility TO my money; my money isn’t hurt by how I use or spend it.

    On the other hand, as a parent I DO have a huge responsibility to my children, which comes WAY before my responsibility to society, the community, or the state.

    Of course I still have a responsibility before God concerning how I raise these kids, but it is in no way comparable to the responsibility concerning how I spend my money.

    Ultimately, while the outcome is not as horrible, at its core the assumption that kids are a resource to be used and expended is not fundamentally different from the assumption that (unborn) kids are just a bit of tissue in the mother’s body which she can keep or discard without any reference to their well-being. It treats kids as objects rather than as image bearers and people.

  • http://compelledbymel.wordpress.com Mel

    My husband and I both were public schooled and then I was saved when I was 17 (thankfully mostly unharmed from my secular life.) I started my senior year of public school out wanting to save the entire school, staff, and janitors. I shared my new faith to my classmates and teachers. I also stopped hanging out with my previous friends since I didn’t want to go to drinking parties anymore. I did not come from a Christian home, but I was discipled under the youth pastor and his wife so my faith grew. What I learned from public school is: you are made fun of if you don’t join in with what everyone else is doing, you don’t need to try very hard to get good grades, teachers are not to be respected, and the most important thing is to be in the right crowd. In Deut. 6: 5-7 we are commanded to teach our children the ways of God, day and night. We are raising them up to go into the world as discipled strong believers who will share the gospel. I am not at all saying that if you public school your children that they will turn into heathens and be lost souls. But if your child is taught the Bible, sees their parents live our their faith, interact with their parents living missional lives, come along side their families doing service projects, learn to speak to people of all ages instead of just the same aged peers, not be tempted by peer pressure, and to most importantly be discipled as a follow of Christ which is far greater than reading, writing, and arithmetic than why wouldn’t you? If you public school your children who do you want them to hangout with? The lost souls? The ones that drink and do drugs? Or do you want them to be with the church kids? If you want your children to be missional then like Jesus He went to the lost souls of His time. He went to the drunks, the prostitutes, the lowest of society. Do you send your children to such people? I hope so. But why send them off to fend for themselves, why not go with them? The apostles followed Jesus for years before He taught them enough to send them off to the world. That is the model I want for my kids. I will disciple them, teach them, and lead them in the ways of Jesus and then when they graduate they can go into the world fully equipped to be missional.

  • http://www.GwenMeharg.com Gwen Meharg

    Wow. Missional is a personal choice, not one we make for our children. We are called to be faithful to the path laid before us to the best of our understanding. Parents offer guidance as they can, but you can’t choose missional for a child any more than you can shop at a christian grocery store. Poor Tony.


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