Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Public School Christians

My kids go to our neighborhood public school, though we did not start out there. Our oldest goes to a middle school and the middle one goes to the elementary school just blocks from our home.

C started his Kindergarten at a small Christian School, but by Spring Break we had changed our minds. The teacher and the school did not work for us. Thus far, not realizing this problem sooner is one of my biggest parenting regrets. C was miserable and hated school. It is a rule, Kindergartners don't hate school!

We moved to our neighborhood elementary school in March of that year. The first day I could tell all was redeemed. C was a little evangelist at school. The first day he asked to pray before the snack. He was told he'd have to do it silently.

In First Grade, he started a Jesus club. He invited all his friends to join as long as they knew about Jesus. If they didn't know, he'd tell them all about Him. While the Jesus Club was shut down due to "rules" about non inclusive clubs (of course, C said anyone could join), it didn't stop his mother from starting a Bible Study with school moms that is still going strong some 5 years later.

Our family did not go into a Public School with the plan to revolt against the "worldly" view often expounded at the school. We didn't protest the fact that Christmas was not celebrated. We just continued to sign our cards "Merry Christmas" when we brought gifts for the teachers.

I decided the best way to make sure I wasn't offended by the Halloween party in the classroom would be to volunteer to be the room mother and watch the festivities up close and personal.

Yes, there have been times when I've been tempted to protest things taught about Holidays we don't celebrate, while they omit anything that might be considered "Christian" which is offensive to the PC crowd. Instead, I've learned to pick my battles and build relationships with teachers and administrators. This way, I can make my views known in a non confrontational way.

Through this, my kids have seen a world that does not always share our beliefs. They have learned that talking about God to others is always allowed, but that talking one-on-one and having a relationship with someone first is probably the best way to share our faith. They've learned to be bold and to stand up for their faith while still having a mom and dad watching their every move and making sure they are supported.

In many ways, I've found more Christian Friends for myself and my kids at the Public School than I did in 6 months at a Christian School. I've been bolder about seeking out like minded friends and so have my kids. I've found that there are a lot of Christians in the public school systems including many teachers, administrators, parents, and kids. They are being salt and light in a world often dark and abandoned.

Our family has been able to minister with other parents/families to hurting families in our school environment. Not boldly about Christ, but by being Jesus with skin on in today's world. Our kids have had opportunities to invite non-churched friends to youth group activities, summer VBS, and events at our church that otherwise they would not have been so exposed.

I realize that our family is blessed to be in a city and a school district that has conservative educational values. Textbooks and teaching subject for the most part are non offensive. I know that this could change and as we go up in grades I know that the Science curriculum and literature books might cause some further discussions. I'm OK with that. We know what we believe, we talk about it at home and our kids are equipped to stand up for what they believe or ask for help from us.

For now, I feel that we are like Esther. In the Public School for Such A Time as This....

C gave a speech this month in front of the entire 5/6 grade student body for Cultural Awareness Week. At first, I was surprised that my son, a white middle class suburban boy, would have any knowledge of Cultural Diversity. Yet, his speech was chosen from among his classmates by the teachers as the one that stood out. Amazingly, his speech mentions God and was not edited.

Here's an excerpt of the speech. I've changed a few words to protect people's identity.

At my years at ***, I have had many cultural experiences including a very special one, when I met Mrs. ****. Many of you probably know her, but what you might not know is that she is a missionary. When I heard about her orphanage in ****something inside me clicked. I started to think more about what I have to offer as opposed to what others have to offer me. I was very disappointed at the beginning of 5th grade because many of my elementary friends were on the opposite team as me. I have made many new friends and I have no regrets. Don’t get me wrong I still like my elementary friends, but I know that God put me on the “A” team instead of the “B” team for a special purpose. Part of that reason was to meet Mrs. ****.

When I heard this speech, tears rolled down my face. Not for how wonderful my son was, which he is, but for how wonderful God is that he uses a Public School teacher who just happens to be an Christian Missionary and FCA advisor in my son's life. God did put C in a certain teachers' classroom last year for a reason.

I think C is wondering now if you can you be a missionary and an Aeronautical Engineer at the same time? Who knows. Only God.

1 comment:

Kim said...

When my kids were in public school I was very active in a group called Fun With Faith. It is an after-school bible club that unashamedly teaches biblical truth (in the school!). If your school has any after-school clubs (like Boy Scouts) then legally, FWF is within those parameters. It goes from K-6th grade and each grade has the most wonderful curriculum. We met once a week for 12-weeks in our school cafeteria. The last year that I taught we had over 40 clubs in our county.

Invites are given to the entire class (so no one is excluded) and the kids who come wear their t-shirts on club days. There are certain school districts that raise a stink but legally there is little ground for it. If it really comes to that, there is always the opportunity to meet away from school.

But the teachers and administration (secretly) loved it! Coming by during our club and whispering in our ears what a blessing it was to hear the name of Christ spoken. During the Christmas holidays we walked the halls after school while the teachers were still there and sang carols :)I could go on and on about the different grade levels but my favorite was Proverbs & Patriots which was 5th grade. We studied the wisdom of Proverbs along with a specific historical figure whose faith in God was the basis for their wise choices (Christopher Columbus, George Washington, etc.)The website is

I felt much like you did when my kids were there, although I did always read the Christmas Story during our "Winter Parties" especially when they began the "Christmas Around the World" curriculum. Since the golden opportunity showed up to explain the origin of Christmas I was quick to remind the children that it wasn't Santa ;)The teachers never really cared ... as long as they weren't the ones teaching it.

I completely agree with you about not protesting. The public school is not a christian organization so we cannot very well expect it to assume a biblical worldview. Just like we wouldn't want a Christian school to assume a Muslim view.

I wrote a very similar post to this when my kids were younger. I felt very strongly about their presence in their school. Our struggle began when we found ourselves telling Hannah to keep quiet so she would not be singled out (in regard to exposing injustice or biblical reproof among friends for gossip or slander). The advice to "not make waves" just didn't wash with scripture. We also felt very challenged with the time left in a day to teach biblical truth. The night just came too soon!

Prayers for you while you continue on this parenting journey! It is challenging either way. You have a precious heart and a love for mothering that comes through in your words.

Blessings :)