Preparing Our Children for Life and Eternity

Today we are engaged in a fiercely fought war. One does not have to travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran or some other part of the world to encounter the battle that is raging. All one has to do is visit any home, church or community to find the war taking place in full force.

I refer to this war as a culture war. A culture war is a war of ideas and the two sides are fighting for their ideas to be the driving force in everyone’s life. The two sides have ideas that are in total opposition to one another. The ideas of both sides in this war are trying to provide answers to the two most important questions in life:

• What is REAL?

• What is TRUTH?

One thing that we must all realize is that the major target in this culture war is the hearts and minds of our children. Both sides want to capture our children and have them believe their ideas about reality and truth. Paul reminds us of this battle in Colossians 2:8 where he warns the church at Colossae: See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

The ideas from tradition of men and the principles of the world want to take us captive. This is because when one’s mind is taken captive by ideas, those ideas drive the person’s attitudes and actions in everyday life decisions.

The second reality of this war that we cannot overlook is that the major front of this war is being fought on educational turf. The reason why this is true is because the main business of all education is the communication of ideas from the one doing the educating to the one receiving it.

When most of us think of education, we immediately narrow our thoughts to what takes place in a school. However, education involves what takes place in three very important institutions in every society – the home, the church and the school. I think of these three entities as three legs on a stool. Each leg is providing support for the child by communicating a set of ideas or beliefs to the child. (Figure 1)

The home is the most important leg on the stool. Scripture makes it clear that parents have the greatest responsibility for what ideas are communicated to their children. Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 78:1-7, Psalm 127:3-5, Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4 are just a few examples found in God’s Word that emphasize the truth that parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children.

The church also plays a significant role in educating a child. The local church is God’s instrument to proclaim His kingdom to a lost world. The Bible clearly teaches that the church is to teach, another word for educate, its members so that they are equipped to do the work of the ministry. Also in our effort to fulfill the Great Commission, the church is to teach others to obey all that God commands. It is critical that the church come along side the home and provides support to parents in educating their children.

The third leg on this stool is the school. Schooling has a major influence on the education of a child. A child attends school six hours a day on average for 180 days a year. This represents 1,080 hours each school year – a significant number of hours that a school has opportunity to communicate its ideas to the hearts and minds of our children.

Some parents who are reading this article might give a big sigh of relief at this point. They can say to themselves that they are adequately preparing their children for the future because they are Christians, they attend a church and their children are in, what they believe to be, a good school. However, every parent needs to dig a little deeper into what it takes to properly educate one’s children.

True education can be defined as the process of preparing a child intellectually, physically, socially and spiritually for life and eternity. This means that we must make sure that the ideas that are communicated to our children through each leg on this stool of education is preparing the total child not only for this life but also for eternity. Just having three legs under a child does not mean that they are getting the right answers to the questions of what is real and what is truth.

In the forward of my book, Kingdom Education, Josh McDowell makes a profound statement. The ideal way to help our kids not only to reject the postmodern worldview (a set of ideas) but also embrace deepened Christian convictions is to align church, home, and school into a unified whole that arms our children with the truth and protects them from distortions.

According to McDowell, the key to winning the culture war, the battle for the hearts and minds of our children, is to align the three legs of the stool of education. Just having the three legs, home, church and school, present is not enough. In order to make this alignment, each leg must be firmly established on two fundamental foundation blocks if we are going to have any chance of preparing our children for life and eternity.

The first block that must undergird the home, church and school is Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul makes it clear that we cannot build on any other foundation than that of Jesus Christ. Christ must be preeminent in all of life according to Colossians 1:18.

In order for the home to provide their children with a good education, Jesus Christ must be Lord in the home. He must be the controlling force in everything that takes place in the home.

Since Christ is the Head of the church, He must be preeminent in everything that takes place in the church. The education that the church provides our children must reflect the person of Christ.

The same is true for the school. Too often we see the school as a place where children are given a body of neutral facts. However, there is no such thing as spiritually neutral education. Christ must be the cornerstone on which the school operates.

The second that must make up the foundation for the home, church and school is the Bible, God’s Word. God’s Word must be the source for all ideas that are being communicated to our children regardless of what subject or class they are attending. The Bible is the only thing that can provide them with the right ideas and answer the questions “What is REAL?” and “What is TRUTH?”

These two foundation stones are of absolute necessity for us to be able to educate our children and prepare them for life and eternity. (Figure 2) If these two stones are missing from any one of the legs of the stool, the stool will collapse and the child will fall. When the fall comes, the child is in danger of being taken captive by false ideas.

If we are going to win today’s culture war, we must give our full attention to each leg on the stool of education. We must make sure that each entity, the home, church and school, are firmly set on the foundation blocks of Jesus Christ and God’s Word. When this occurs, we will provide our children with a firm foundation. All three legs will be aligned and our children will be prepared not just for this life but, more importantly, for eternity.

By Dr. Glen Schultz