Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

I came across an article by David Nienhuis in the recent issue of Modern Reformation which I have read several times.  In it, he addresses the issue of biblical illiteracy among modern evangelicals, particularly among young evangelicals.  It is a very insightful article.  Having spent several years working with young people in the local church, I can say that I think his assessment is quite accurate.  You can find his article here http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=1110&var3=main&var4=Home.  It is a little long, but it is worth the time to read.

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I recently posted a link to a couple of articles by Kevin DeYoung on reaching the next generation.  He has posted a couple of more articles on this topic.  Here is an excerpt from one of the posts entitled “Hold Them With Holiness”…

“Look at what God says in 2 Peter 1:5-8:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Did you pick up on the promise in the last verse?  If we are growing in faith, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, we will not be ineffective ministers for Christ.  If ever there was a secret to effective ministry, these verses give it to us.  Grow in God and you’ll make a difference in people’s lives.  If nothing of spiritual significance is happening in your church, your Bible study, your small group, or your family it may be because nothing spiritually significant is happening in your life…”

Sobering thought!!!

Take the time to read the following posts:

“Hold Them With Holiness” found here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2009/10/21/reaching-the-next-generation-hold-them-with-holiness/.”

“Challenge Them With Truth” found here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2009/10/22/reaching-the-next-generation-challenge-them-with-truth/.

“Amaze Them With God” found here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2009/10/23/reaching-the-next-generation-amaze-them-with-god/.

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Dr. Russell Moore has some interesting (convicting?) thoughts on unrestricted and unmonitored cellphone usage among our children.  Like virtually everything he writes, it is worth the time to read.  Here is an excerpt…

“The formation and discipline of children, after all, is built on the pattern of God’s fatherly discipline of his people (Heb 12:3-11), seen in his discipline of Israel (Deut 8:1-20) and, ultimately, in his discipleship of the incarnate Christ (Luke 2:20, John 5:19-20; Heb 2:10). Our discipline of our families is rooted, then, in the Fatherhood “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:14).

I wonder, then, when it comes to cell phones, how many parents do precisely what our Father never does, and never will do. James tell us, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:14). The Apostle Paul tells us that “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13).

That’s why our God, through the Law of Moses, treats his people as a tightly-governed child “under guardians and managers until the date set by his father” (Gal 4:2). He carefully works us toward maturity, seeing that we’re faithful in small things before putting us over many things. That’s what a good and loving Father does.

A pre-teen or a teenager with unrestricted cell-phone usage (or Internet or television consumption) is being placed in a very, very difficult place of temptation. The company of that young man or woman is now away from the scrutiny of parents, and is now left only to his or her discretion or conscience.  Are there some young Christians who can handle such? Of course. Should you assume your child is one of them? Your Father is more careful of you than that.”

Read the whole thing.  You can find it here http://www.russellmoore.com/index.php/2009/02/09/does-your-childs-cell-phone-preach-another-gospel/

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Dr. Gene Veith recently posted some interesting facts about growth among the Amish (they have grown 84% since 1992.)  The majority of this growth is the result of high birthrates (on average, each Amish family has 5 children with 85% of these children remaining Amish.)  The thrust of his post is the weakness among evangelicals when it comes to evangelizing their own children.  Sobering stuff here.  You can read it for yourself at http://www.geneveith.com/church-growth-amish-style/_992/

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As I have said before on this blog, I am a homeschooling father.  I take the biblical commands to evangelize and disciple my children seriously (i.e. Deut 6:4-9, Eph 6:4, etc.)  In an attempt to accomplish these God-given responsibilities, my wife and I have made the choice to keep our children home for their education.  Although I would not say that homeschooling is the only way in which a parent can fulfill the God-given mandate to evangelize and disciple one’s children, this is our way of striving to apply this teaching of Scripture to our life.  With this said, despite my best efforts, I am a sinner and I know that I fall short of God’s expectation of me as a father on daily basis.  But this is something I take very seriously.

I am also a pastor.  As a pastor, I am called to “shepherd the flock of God” (I Pet 5:2.)  Paul gives us a helpful (and convicting) description of what this is in Acts 20

Acts 20:18-21, 28-31 (ESV) – 18 And when they (i.e. the Ephesian elders) came to him (Paul), he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ… 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

Again… I am humbled by the awesome description of my responsibilities as a pastor.  Far too often, I fall short of what God expects of me as a shepherd of His flock.  Praise God for my Savior, who died to forgive all my sins!

But one of the most pressing questions upon my mind over the past couple of years has been how to bring these two aspects of the Christian life together. And, as a pastor, how do I strive to integrate these two aspects (family-based evangelism/discipleship and church-based evangelism/discipleship) in the local church I am called to shepherd?

There seems to be a movement among evangelicals today to try to pit the family and the Church against one another.  I see this tendency often among homeschooling families who, like myself, see the home as essential for the evangelism and discipleship of children in a wicked world.  But, unfortunately, more and more families (particularly homeschooling families) are leaving the church all the time in an effort to retain a family emphasis on evangelism and discipleship of children.

Now I am not going to say that churches (note:  “churches”, not the “Church”) are perfect.  Many churches have usurped the role of the family in evangelism and discipleship. And many parents have been more than willing to turn over the spiritual nurture of their children to “professionals” (i.e. Sunday School teachers, youth pastors, etc…) rather than accepting this daunting responsibility which God has given to them. 

But we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater.  The family and the church should not be odds.  The family is important to God.  Parents are COMMANDED to train up their children to know and love God (Deut 6:4-9, Eph 6:4.)  A man whose family is not in order cannot be an elder in the church (I Tim 3:4-5.)  But at the same time, Christ shed His blood for the Church (Acts 20:28, Eph 5:25-27)… not the family.  There is no question that the Church is central in the New Covenant era.  In fact, Jesus seems to state that the relationship of believers to one another is more intimate and central than natural, familial relationships (Matt 12:46-50, Lk 9:59-62, Lk 14:26.)  Not to mention the fact that, by and large, the majority of the New Testament is written to churches… not to individual families (i.e. epistles…)

This is not a white and black… either/or issue.  The family is ordained by God to be a center of biblical instruction (Deut 6:4-9.)  But the Church is uniquely ordained by God to reflect His glory.  In fact, Ephesians 3:8-10 seems to say that the Church is God’s ultimate plan of redemption.  Note this carefully. The Church… not the family… is the focus of God displaying His glory and has been for all eternity.  However, with this said, both are critical in God’s plan of redemption in bringing glory to Himself.  We cannot do without one or the other.  The family and the church should not be at odds with one another.  They should be seamlessly joined together for the glory of God.  One should support the other with the ultimate goal of God’s magnificence being seen by all creation!

I find that I have been highly ineffective as a pastor in trying to integrate these two strands of teaching in Scripture in the local church.  People on both sides of the issue are always mad at me.  Those who believe in age-segregated programs of evangelism and discipleship in the church get angry that I am not more supportive of their efforts to reach children for Christ (which I believe is a uniquely parental role.)  While, at the same time, those committed to the centrality of the family in evangelism/discipleship often accuse me of not being committed enough to a “family-integrated model.”  However, that doesn’t change the fact that I think both extremes are quite wrong.  We need to affirm both the centrality of the family and the Church.  And how this is applied will look different in differing contexts.

This brings me to the reason why I started writing this post.  Dr. Michael Lawrence has written an excellent review of Dr. Voddie Baucham’s book “Family-Driven Faith” over at the 9Marks website.  I greatly respect both of these men and have benefited from the teaching of both of them.  Dr. Baucham is an articulate advocate for the “family-integrated” side of the argument and his book is a helpful read.  It will challenge you as a parent to take seriously your God-given role as a parent.   However, I have always been a little uncomfortable with some of his applications, particularly in regards to the local church.  He seems to say that the family “trumps” the church (my word, not his.)  Dr. Lawrence does a far better job than I ever could of identifying these issues and attempting to bring balance between these two extremes.  I would highly recommend Dr. Lawrence’s review, even if you aren’t going to read Dr. Baucham’s book.  It would be time well spent.  You can find it here http://9marks.org/CC/article/0,,PTID314526%7CCHID598014%7CCIID2438258,00.html.

In the end… pray for the family and the Church.  Raise your children to know and love God!  Teach them diligently!  And love the Church… after all… Jesus shed His blood to save Her!




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Dr. John Walton has put his finger on a significant problem in much curriculum used in children’s ministry… bad hermeneutics.   According to Dr. Walton, some of the common hermeneutical errors in children’s curriculum are:

1)      Promotion of the trivial.

2)      Illegitimate extrapolation.

3)      Reading between the lines.

4)      Missing important nuance.

5)      Focus on people rather than God.

Are we teaching our children rightly? 

Are they learning to interpret the Word of God as God Himself intends it to be interpreted?

You can read the whole article here http://zondervan.typepad.com/koinonia/2008/08/hermeneutics-an.html

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Brian Sandifer… a fellow homeschool parent… recently posted on how “Homeschooling is Not the Gospel.”  Here is an excerpt from his post…

“…the problem (in the world today) is not bad education, it is bad character (sin).  The solution is not homeschooling, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ and participating in the growing kingdom of God.  The utopian society is not homeschool grads in power, but the consummation of the kingdom of God which will only occur at the second coming of the Lord in glory.  I fear that many in the Christian homeschooling movement have a false understanding of the problem, the solution, and the ultimate goal.  And smooth-talking, eloquent, yet misguided speakers that give vision and encouragement to homeschooling parents are not helping build the kingdom of God.  (You can read the whole thing here http://dangitbill.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/homeschooling-not-the-gospel/ .  It is worth the read!!!)

Reading Mr. Sandifer’s post, I found it resonating with many of my own experiences and concerns.  I am a homeschooling father.  My wife and I made the choice to begin homeschooling our three daughters after our two oldest daughters had attended public school for a couple of years.  We made the choice to remove our children from public education, not because we were dissatisfied with their education (for the most part they had wonderful teachers… a couple were even Christians!), but because we were concerned about the influence of the world upon them (both from the secular curriculum and their peers.) 

From those who are opposed to homeschooling (and there are many!), I have often heard the argument that taking our children out of public school is no guarantee that my children will have a vital relationship with the Lord.  I absolutely agree.  I have also heard the argument that sin is something which comes naturally to all children and is not something they learn in public school.  Again, I wholeheartedly agree.  I have no problem admitting that my children are depraved, little sinners.  I know that wickedness dwells within their hearts and this constantly spills over into sinful behavior (as Jesus says in Matt 15:19.)  I affirm with absolute assurance that apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus, there is no hope for my children (Eph 2:8-9.)  But, in response to these arguments, I am also acutely aware that the world (under the leadership of devil – i.e. Eph 2:1-3, etc…) is intentionally and continuously trying to conform all of us to its image and the only way to offset this is through the constant renewing of the mind (Rom 12:2.)  Our children, particularly when they are young, are unable to renew their own minds.  In fact, I would tend to say that Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us that it is the father’s responsibility to do this for his children.  Therefore, with this in mind, my wife and I made the choice to homeschool our children.

With this said, after we made the choice to homeschool, we immediately became exposed to the “homeschool subculture” through others in our church who agreed with our educational choice.  I must admit, I am not particularly enamored with what I have found there.  At its best, the homeschool subculture can be encouraging to those who are striving to be faithful in educating their children in the way they deem best.  At its worst, it can be sectarian, divisive and legalistic.  This has always concerned me. 

My greatest concern for those involved in the homeschooling subculture (and I must include myself here at this time) is that there is a tendency at times to confuse this issue (as important as it might be) with the central tenets of the Christian faith.  Many homeschool parents I know spend more time discussing the values of homeschooling than they do the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many homeschooling parents I know can better articulate from Scripture why it is necessary to homeschool than they can the doctrine of the deity of Christ or the depravity of mankind.  The gospel must be “of first importance” to us as Christians (I Cor 15:1-4.)  To elevate a secondary issue like homeschooling to the status of first importance could very well be akin to idolatry.  If we make an idol out of homeschooling our children… then are we not assisting the world in its efforts to conform our children to its image? 

I know that many homeschooling parents would disagree with me, but Scripture does not expressly state that it is necessary to homeschool in order to be a Christian.  Many Christians have varying views on this issue and I believe that this would fall under the category of Christian liberty described for us by the Apostle Paul in Romans 14.  I would tend to say with Paul, “…Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5b) for “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom 14:10b.)   I will stand before God and give an account for how I have raised my children.  I am fully convinced in my own mind that homeschooling is the right choice for my family.  But more importantly, I am absolutely… completely… totally convinced that I will answer for how I have trained up my children in the truth of the gospel.   I pray that my children will not confuse anything with the gospel.  I pray that the gospel will be of first importance to them.  Agree or disagree with me… that is why I homeschool.

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