Is Public School to Blame?

I was having a conversation recently about the reason so many students turn away from the church after high school, and it was suggested that it’s because they don’t get the proper biblical worldview/foundation in public school and only get an hour during the week at church.

It seems to me this is a big generalization since public school students can get a strong foundation in the home and Christian school and home school students don’t necessarily get a good foundation (or it is a skewed perspective that actually turns them away from the church). So I started thinking about the data that has been collected on this and wondered when the information is gathered and compiled if it takes into account what kind of schooling the student had – public, private Christian or homeschool.  My guess is that the data wouldn’t be significantly different if you did divide the three groups.

Also, does it make a difference if they go to a public college or a Christian college?  I would hope that students who go to a Christian college are more likely to continue going to church and to have a more Biblical worldview, but is that true?

Good question. Actually, studies show parents are the most influential in regard to the beliefs of young adults. So you’re right, school really has little to do with it. As a kid who went to public school and loved it, I’m actually quite offended by this very unfair, very common stereotype about public school. Truth be told, public school forced me to know what I believed and why in a way a Christian environment couldn’t have.

You’re also right that going to a Christian college can be really helpful, but it depends on the college/university, and it depends on the person. I know going to a Christ-centered university where integration of faith (worldview) and learning was important was super-helpful for me. However, if I had gone to a public university, I know I would have been involved in a local church and a campus ministry; studies also show that such involvement significantly lowers the risk of faith abandonment during the college years. Community is key.

All that to say, public school, private school, home school… it doesn’t really matter. When we grown-ups complain about the worldview issues of young adults, we really have no one but ourselves to blame because in both the home and the church, young people are watching how we walk the talk.

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6 Responses to Is Public School to Blame?

  1. Brian says:

    Nail on the head, Renea. And, to complicate things even more, even great, godly, diligent parents cannot guarantee that their children will turn out the same way. It is a great mystery. Since I’ve become a parent, it’s become even more of a mystery to me. It really causes me to fear God even more, and trust him even more.

    • reneamac says:

      Right you are, Brian. The proverb about raising children in the ways of God so that they will continue in them as adults is, simply, a proverb, not a promise. This is why fundamentalists like the Quiverfulls are sorely mistaken in thinking Christians need to make efforts to out breed everyone else.

      If we all could learn to hold on to what we love loosely, trusting God more, as you are learning to do with your son, rather than trying to control and possess, the church, the world would be a better place.

  2. Agreeeeeee. Parents parents parents, but also: Church.

    Lots of parents shoulder the entire responsibility for their children’s spiritual formation. Nice, but when the kids leave home, it seems like they sometimes leave the faith as well.

    Reggie Joiner has a book out called Orange, about developing a philosophy of Christian education that brings the family into a cooperation with the church. Developing a sense of the importance of the community of God within children as they grow takes the onus of responsibility for “bringing up” and places it on the community’s shoulders as well as the parents’. I really like this philosophy. I think a lot of Christian families try to do everything on their own, or they let the church take full responsibility for the development of faith in their children. There seems to be a balance there that’s equally important. If a love for the church and a sense of its importance can develop within a child, when he or she moves out of her parents’ home, she can still be connected with the family of God wherever she goes. She’s held accountable there, she’s given responsibility, and she’s not lonely.

    My two cents. 🙂

    • reneamac says:

      More like 25 cents! Excellent, excellent point. This also falls in line with the theology of family we’re given by Jesus which places biological family under the primacy of spiritual family.

  3. Hot topic – cool, clear, wise response.

    How we train our children to respond to culture and to the world is eternally significant… both at home and in the church.

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