All four of my children have spent every year of their primary and secondary education so far at Bethel Christian Academy, a ministry of our church. I do not believe that an elementary and primary aged young person should go to a public school. It's not because it would be wrong to attend a public school. Moses and Daniel both went to public school. They didn't divide over the school, but over disobedience to the Word of God. I wouldn't want to risk these children and young people to the influences of the public school. It's too much for almost all children and young people.
For many years, we recommended all of our high school graduates to some Christian college. Ultimately, it could only be a college the ministry of a church. It turned out OK for our young people. But here's what happened---mainly three things.
First, the nature of the Christian college is such that few to none believe and practice like our church. That's where the conviction of 1 Timothy, two texts in particular (1:3b, 4a; 6:2b, 3, 5b), enters the decision:
....that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed....
These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;....from such withdraw thyself....
On the basis of these texts, within the context of a church or an ecclesiastical institution (one that claims to teach doctrine and practice with authority, like a parachurch organization), I don't believe we should be exposing our own young people to doctrine and practice other than what our own church believes and practices. I don't see how to obey these passages in God's Word and recommend young people to any Christian college that doesn't believe and practice identical to our church. There is one doctrine and practice. Our young people should continue believing that. We are not to give heed to any other doctrine.
Every Bible college our young people attended, they were being taught a doctrine and practice other than our church's. I don't blame that on the colleges. I blame it on us for recommending and even sending our young people to those places. These places believed and taught their doctrine before our young people arrived. And then when they did arrive, they were in for a regular battle over what they were taught at our church.
This all makes sense, because these college-aged students should be learning their doctrine and practice in their own church. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), not a college. Before or shortly after I was born, churches became convinced that their young people had to go to college to get their doctrine. So much goes wrong in doing it this way (that I will discuss in a future part to this series), and mainly because God didn't design this as the way for doctrine and practice to be promulgated. I'm sure that they thought that a person could no longer be prepared for this complicated world by a mere church. And churches agreed to this extra-scriptural arrangement.
I can't recommend our high school graduates to a place that teaches something different than what we believe or practice. It's because of those verses in 1 Timothy. I found it difficult to oppose when they learned something different, without coming into sharp conflict with the place where they received it. I didn't want to have that kind of conflict, but I really brought it upon myself by recommending it or sending them there in the first place. And again, it wasn't the fault of that institution. They were probably doing the best job they could with the ideas they already held.
Many Christian colleges are a worse influence than a state college. Why? One, your young people are exposed to the wrong belief and practice. The kids are often peddled a worldly version of Christianity that is more damaging to your young people's affections for God. Their guard is down. They become accustomed many times to a view that diminishes what they received from their church. Some watered down version of Christianity, I believe, is more dangerous than what you know is in and of the world. That's easier to distinguish and dispense with.
So church kids should learn their doctrine and practice from your church. The only other alternative is to learn it at a church that teaches exactly what you believe and practice. That's not superior to your own church, but I believe it is acceptable, because it doesn't come into conflict with 1 Timothy 1 and 6.
I believe that your church kids are better off going to a local community college or something better (the latter in part depending on the financials) and staying home with their family and their church. Their family and their church are what should be teaching those most important doctrines, practices, and character traits. That's what we're doing and I'll break that down a little bit more in a future part to this series.
Second, I noticed that young people who graduated from a Christian college were ill prepared to support a family. Now, you may say, sure they do: pastor, missionary, and Christian school teacher. None of those gives much hope of financial support, especially for a twenty-two year old young man, who needs to support a wife and family. Generally, each of those require someone else to do something to support one of those young people.
This is where I began rethinking the point of college. Why do we send our young people to college? Is it to get Christian instruction? I send you to number one again for that point. I think it is to prepare them to earn a living, essentially to fulfill their God-given roles, which for a man is to support a wife and children. Part of being a good parent is training your sons to earn a living. Do Christian colleges do the best job in preparing a young man to do that? At this point, I don't think so. I'm not convinced that they even do a superior job of educating our college-aged young people. I'm talking about preparing them to make it in the world in the most basic way possible. Christian colleges try. They very often do their best. My observation is that as a whole they're inferior, in part because they lack the resources.
Our first tier of education responsibility is to fulfill the basic responsibility of earning a living. That is a godly task. It should be fulfilled. Christian kids can make it in the world after high school if they have Christian character. They'll be able to hold a job. They might even do more. If we're talking about the advantage of college, we want more than merely holding a job. We want to offer a greater advantage of a better job---for instance, the kind of job that allows the wife to stay home with the children. In many instances, you've got two Christian college graduates, who both, man and woman, must earn an income to make ends meet. They're done with college, back in your church, and now what? They're not the responsibility of the Christian college.
Third, Christian colleges have a difficult time competing with state or other private colleges in the quality of education. They can't usually get the experts in the field that can compete even with the community college. This year my daughter, a senior in high school, took Chemistry in a local community college and her teacher was a PhD in Chemistry that was an excellent teacher of Chemistry. By the way, the class cost her and us (as taxpayers in this state) one dollar. I understand that you'll have some bad influences from them here or there. We can debate that if you wish. Math really is math. Much of science really is science. English is English. Writing is writing. And when they are in those classes, they'll be at home and with their church, or at least with their church, the right church, to guide them through those times. They're going to face them in the real world anyway.
I'll be breaking down how this has worked and is working with us in future parts to this series.