FILTER BY: [searchandfilter fields="sermons-category,sermons-tag,sermons-speakers,issue" show_count="1,1,1,"]

Exploring the Importance of Christian Schools and Missions

Both Christian schools and missions demand a place in the life of the Christian.

On the one hand, missions are an imperative. They are a biblical mandate. Jesus Christ himself put great emphasis on them. As related in Go and make disciples!, “Each of the four Gospels ends with a ‘Great Commission’…Jesus says that his will is that his disciples take the gospel to all peoples everywhere.”[1] Four texts are then cited: Matthew 28:18–20, Mark 16:15–18, Luke 24:44–48, and John 20:21–23.

Missions are people being sent to communicate the gospel to others. Missions include missionaries, the message that they bring, and the official calling of being sent. We perceive missions as important in many ways. We read the monthly newsletters, bulletin announcements, and blogs. We give to the collections. We hear the prayers by pastors.

On the other hand, there are Christian schools. Christian schools are also an imperative. Though one would be hard pressed to find a text that specifically mandates Christian schools, there are many texts that support Christian education. Deuteronomy 6:7 and Proverbs 22:6 are often cited. Martin Luther wrote A Sermon on Keeping Children in School.[2] In the sermon he addressed various questions: What would happen if we did not have Christian schools? What would happen if we did not support Christian education?  Why does the devil oppose Christian schools? At the dawn of the Reformation, it was immediately recognized that if the movement were to continue, consistent Bible-based education of children must be the norm. The fact that the Christian schools are opposed by the devil proves that they are important.

Christian schools are teachers training the youth in what they need to function as mature Christians in today’s society. Children, teachers, and Christ-centered education constitute the Christian schools. We perceive Christian schools as important in many ways. Children come home singing songs, telling stories, and relating chapel talks. There are homework, after-school activities, sports, and evenings with friends. Friendships are formed. Volunteers get involved. Work bees commence. There are collections on Sunday, fund drives, and bulletin announcements. There is spiritual growth in the lives of the children.

Christian schools and missions are very different. The daily work associated with the school is close at hand, but the daily work associated with missions is many miles away and easily escapes our notice. Also, school work is pressing and urgent. School work needs to be done ASAP. Mission work seems like it can wait. If we don’t get to that mission work, our lives don’t change much. Further, Christian schools are felt to be an obligation by parents. Parents and teachers share the responsibility to train and educate the children. But mission work is often seen as the missionary’s job. It could easily be said, “I’m not a minister. He is. Isn’t that why we sent him, so that he can go out and preach?”

When these differences are placed next to each other, something happens. The tug and the pull and the urgency of the school tend to nudge out missions. Missions tend to get slighted. Christian schools, because of the five-day-a-week routine, weekend activities, and evening social functions, push any missions thinking right to the back of our brains.

Yet there are similarities between Christian schools and missions. Each of them involves people who teach. Schools have teachers and support staff. Missionaries are themselves the teachers. Each of them has a group that they teach. There are children in the schools. There are men, women, and children on the mission field. Each of them has a message to communicate. The schools have the job of training in the three R’s, specifically using a Christ-based curriculum. The missionaries have the calling of opening up and explaining the scriptures.

Acts 2:39 applies to both: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” This passage names three groups. The first is you, the adults, the ones who are teaching. The second, children, are those whom we train in the Christian school. The third, those who are afar off, are the people with whom mission work is done. The promise is to all three groups. As many as are called will receive salvation in Jesus Christ. Members from each of them will be gathered into God’s covenant.

This brings us to a question. How do we do justice to both Christian schools and mission work at the same time? How do we do maintain each of them without slighting either of them?

We need balance. Balance is essential when considering Christian schools and missions. Balance is a part of our lives. Every day we make decisions. We do one thing, and by doing it, we decide not to do another thing. Some things don’t make the cut. It seems that some things we never get around to.

Many factors influence balance. We all have the same limited amount of time to use every day, and we all balance it. Sometimes we run out of time at the end of the day. Sometimes we are busy with work. Each of us also has a limited amount of resources. We all have a finite amount of money. We balance it between spending, saving, and giving.

As time passes in our lives, as our resources are spent day by day, balance generally turns into habit. For example, we each have our favorite way to relax at the end of the day. Or, out of every paycheck we put a little money in the collection plate. These actions soon turn into habits. Without thinking, the habit is formed. Habits can be good. Habits can be bad. Either way, they soon form, and then we are not consciously thinking about what to do. Often we are just doing it.

Our habits are often modified. Sometimes, against our will, our habits are changed by pressing needs that are in front of us. Emergencies happen. Cars break down. Instead of going home on time, duty calls, and we work late to get the job done. Other times, we willingly change our habits. We realize that what we are eating impacts our health, so we change. We become convicted through the preaching, so we live our lives differently.

What should the balance in our lives between Christian schools and missions be driven by? Habits or something else? Our balance should be driven by our station and calling in life. Station and calling is referred to in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 49, which refers to each man’s performing “the duties of his station and calling.”[3]

Each of us has a station and calling. Some are students in school. Some are mothers. Some are fathers. Station and calling includes more than one thing. Using the example of a student, not only can a person be a student, but he also might be a child, sibling, co-worker, and next-door neighbor; also a friend to multiple people, a grandchild, a cousin, and a teammate.

A man is placed in his station and calling by God’s providence. We must attend to each aspect of our station and calling because God has placed us in that exact position. God has set before us the obligations of our lives by his providence. Station and calling are often what moves a man. Because God has determined that one is a student, the student is the one who will need to react to an incident with a fellow student. The normal, everyday situations in life are what determine our actions.

Within our station and calling we also have opportunities. Many times God obligates us to act, but we are not obligated to a particular course of action. When a pastor receives a call to be a missionary, he is obligated to give an answer, but either way he answers the call can be viewed as an opportunity to serve in a different area. Three weeks later he either continues to serve his church or he picks up his life and moves to a mission field. When the parents in a small church are fed up with the world-centered education that their children are getting fed, they have the obligation to continue to ensure their children receive a Christ-based education, but at a certain point, they have the opportunity to form a society. The obligation is to continue to educate. The opportunity is to form a school society.

This is also seen in the Good Samaritan. God placed before him an obligation to help, but not a command to help in a specific way. What did he do? He seized the opportunity, took advantage of the situation, and gave assistance. He gave his time, talents, and resources for the man whom God placed in his path.

What explains a group of men forming a society for the creation of a new Christian school? What explains a pastor taking a call and moving halfway around the world? Station and calling does. Information does. A widened perspective does. Knowledge does.

The common thread in these three, a person’s station and calling, the Christian school, and missions, is the mixture of love with knowledge. Love knows that missions are wider than the official work of the church. Missions consist of more than just missionaries. Missions need books: shipping them, writing them, translating them. Mission fields need prayer. To pray well, you must be informed and knowledgeable. Thus they include people who visit and report back to others. Missions also include our personal witness. We evangelize. We talk to others about what God has done for us. We show concern for our neighbor.

Missions are about a mindset and a way of thinking. As Christian schools are the mindset of some, missions are the mindset of others. We must care for and love those around us enough to want to help them, to seek their good, to care for them, whether they are our children or those who are many miles away. We must pray for them.

There is a directive within our station and calling. We must prioritize our opportunities.  Galatians 6:10 puts things in perspective: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” This text speaks of opportunities. These opportunities come to us with respect to all those who cross our path. We must be willing to avail ourselves of opportunities, to think outside the box. This puts in place a priority in our station and calling. Our station and calling must be first toward those who are within our reach, but then also to those who are further away. Each must be done. We may not do one to the exclusion of the other. To emphasize one so much that we have no time for the other is failure. The imperative to do both applies even within the ranking of opportunities.

Though no two situations are the same, each of us has opportunities. Though dad works, mom is busy in the home, and the homework for the student is demanding, each will be given opportunities. What opportunities are on your path? How will you lend a hand in support of the Christian school or missions? Will you give your time to a particular aspect? What projects might you be a good fit for? Will you allocate some of your resources for a cause? What resources has God given to you as a steward to allocate? Will you be involved in the cause? Will you keep up on the writings that come out? Will you pray about these things? How will you see the opportunities that will present themselves?

Each of us has some time and resources. We need to make both Christian schools and missions a priority in our lives. By being close to both, we will see the opportunities. By becoming involved, each of us can be ready assistants within our own particular station and calling.

 

[1] Roger S. Greenway, Go and Make Disciples!: An Introduction to Christian Missions (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 42.

[2] http://www.godrules.net/library/luther/NEW1luther_d12.htm, accessed May 18, 2016.

[3] The Confessions and the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches (Grandville, MI: Protestant Reformed Churches in America, 2005), 138.