Twelve years ago my wife, Coby, and I found ourselves facing some of the most significant crossroads and challenges of our lives. After five years of ministry in British Columbia, we moved to London, Ontario, where I had accepted an invitation from Christian Reformed Home Missions to begin a brand-new church.
Of all the major decisions we struggled with early in this new endeavor, perhaps the most difficult involved the education of our children. Coby and I spent our entire educational lives in Christian schools. We benefited enormously from elementary, high school, college, and seminary educators who taught us from a Christian perspective and modeled for us Christian values and faithfulness. In those settings we also found friendships that enriched our faith in Christ.
We might think it should have been automatic to send our kids to Christian school for all of those reasons. But after months of prayer, conversation, and reflection we decided to enroll our young children in the local public school.
Our decision was based primarily on the new dominating reality of our lives.
We had accepted a call to begin a church that would connect with people far from God and help them find hope and eternal life in Christ. We became convinced that to do this effectively we had to fully intersect our lives with the community of people we were called to reach.
We soon realized that all our new neighbors were involved in the local public school. They spent time and built relationships in the school community. We realized that if we were going to build relationships and establish credibility with them, we needed to be part of that setting as well. Our decision was essentially missiological.A Decision Bears Fruit
A dozen years have now gone by. A lot of the friends we made in our local public school became followers of Christ over the years. I’ve baptized many of them and see them serving and leading in our church. Sometimes I think about our school decision those many years ago and wonder what might have happened if we had chosen differently.
God honored our decision in more ways than one. Not only have we seen a church take hold that is marked by a passion and love for people without faith, but our children have all grown into vital and committed faith in Christ. They profoundly understand the evangelistic opportunities and needs of our postmodern world. Our oldest two kids are in college; both chose Christian colleges, for which we’re thrilled and grateful.
Our decision is not for everyone. Many Christians will do the right thing in making the same decision our parents made when they sent us to Christian schools. But our journey took us on a different path.
In following this path, we grew to understand a little more fully the reality of the incarnation: that to reach and redeem us, God became one of us. God came to live in our very space—so that we could live forever in his. Meeting Fresh Challenges
The Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church has a long-standing provision that reads
The council shall diligently encourage the members of the congregation to establish and maintain good Christian schools in which the biblical, Reformed vision of Christ’s lordship over all creation is clearly taught. The council shall also urge parents to have their children educated in harmony with this vision according to the demands of the covenant.
—Church Order and Rules of Synodical Procedure 2004, p. 19
Synod 2005 of the Christian Reformed Church, meeting last June in Palos Heights, Ill., reaffirmed this policy and adopted a series of motions to meet the new realities that have developed over time. One such adopted recommendation reads as follows:
That synod advise the members and churches of the CRC to consider the responsibilities they bear both for Christian education and for doing evangelism as vitally important and complementary and declare that support for Christian education should never be used to undermine the work of evangelism and that evangelistic outreach should never be given as a ground for failing to support Christian day school education . . .
—Advisory Committee 9, Synod 2005