Distinctively Christian?

A key question that we must ask ourselves today in Christian education is, “Are we distinctively Christian in all aspects of our school?” Here’s a simple exercise to try in this regard: a few years ago when I began to think about this topic I started to list everything I could think of that made our school different than others down the street. Then I began to organize these ideas into categories. Try this exercise with your faculty and/or school board and see what comes to their mind – it will be an instant assessment of perceptions as to where your school is coming across as distinctive and where some work needs to be done.

Most recently as I have considered this matter I have come up with some shorthand language – Christian schools must be distinctively Christian in these areas: curriculum, classroom, and community. More on what is meant by this language in future posts. How would you describe the ways your school is distinctively Christian?


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5 responses to “Distinctively Christian?

  1. “Are we distinctively Christian in all aspects of our school?”—great question. I would like to learn more about what you mean by “curriculum, classroom, and community.” I’m glad you’re planning future posts on this.

    At Christian Academy in Japan, we think about the following areas when considering this question: mission, board, leadership, staff, environment, reporting, content, assessment, instruction, parent/community involvement, and resources. We want to be a distinctively Christian school; we want to be different.

    Christian schools need to be places where students learn:
    * Different content (biblical perspective of the course content they have mastered)
    * For a different purpose (to impact the world for Christ)
    * From different people (Christians)
    * In a different environment (a Christ-centered learning environment).

  2. I have been pondering this type of question a great deal lately. I am concerned that we in Christian Education take a lot of things for granted or we assume a great many things. One of these false assumptions that has been plaguing me lately is that too many of us educators assume that our students and parents understand or see that the world view we are teaching is different from our counterparts in other systems. At times I am concerned that we educators are not pointing out or making our students aware that what we are teaching is different. We assume they are somehow catching it simply because we have the label of Christian School.

  3. Thanks to both of you for your excellent comments! I think that in our rapidly changing society we need to make sure we are having the dialogue rather than making assumptions. To that end, this blog and your participation – thanks! I also believe that each generation must make the reason and purpose for Christian education their own – re-examining and re-affirming how we, within Christian community, are distinctive and pushing back against culture in order to re-engage it with the message of the kingdom. I like John Hull’s phrase of “cultural maladjustment” – this takes active participation on the part of teachers, parents, and church to assist our students to develop discernment so that they learn to march to a “different drummer.”

  4. When you referred to John Hull’s terminology “Culturally Maladjusted” I was reminded of the comment that our Steve Fikkert, our School Guidance Counselor, often uses when speaking to parents about our mission and purpose. “We at Mount Vernon Christian School are in the business of creating maladjusted young people.” The first time he said it I thought, “Oh no!” However, upon further reflection and after hearing his presentation or explanation, how true it is. That is the precise business we should be in. Our graduates should be swimming up stream against a culture that promotes the postmodern idea of what I refer to as “me-ism”.

  5. Rebecca Schwartz

    My entire educational “career” until college has taken place in public schools. I am blessed to say that I am currently attending Trinity Chrisitian College as a Special Education Major with a whole-hearted aspiration to teach.
    I feel that I have learned a lot simply from the experience of attending public schools. I attended a “blue ribbon” highschool. Academically, public schools provided me with the ability to score well on standardized tests, and achieve good grades.
    While I definitely believe that academics are important, I feel it is critical that teachers strive to teach and meet the needs of the whole student, not just the brain. Teachers are blessed with the opportunity to be role models for their students. They spend hours a day in a single room with at least 20 students throughout the entire school year. I can’t help but wonder why public school teachers don’t realize the blessing they have been given to take on the wonderful responsibility of fostering ethical development and critical thinking of life decisions. To build the heart while building the mind.
    Thankfully, while attending Trinity I have been given the opportunity to see the true difference between public schools and Christian schools. Christian schools develop the heart of the student. They allow the student to realize and appreciate the gifts that God has given them as well as their peers.
    The answer to the posted question, “Are we distinctively Christian in all aspects of our school?” will be answered in reference to Trinity Christian College.

    Curriculum- Content is connected to God in all areas. Content is focused on providing students with the gift of knowledge so as to answer a calling to serve God and His children.

    Classroom- The classroom consists of a community of learners. Professors and students approach learning with an open mind. The classroom is a safe place where gifts and talents can be demonstrated and recognized. Prayer takes place often. The classroom has the characteristics of: Trust, Faith,
    Motivation, Honor, and Praise

    Community- Serving the community is a priority. Service learning projects are prominent in a large majority of classes. The classroom, student body, and college as a whole is also a community.

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