When you walk onto the campus of a Christian School, what do you see? A sea of saints? Yes and no!

There really should be a tangible sense of the reality of stepping into the presence of God's people. If a school is to be a Christian School, that should mean it is filled with Christians. It is the home of Christian people, not just Christian ideas. Christian students from Christian families, as well as Christian teachers.

However, as Jesus taught us in the parable of the wheat and tares, this side of eternity we live with the reality of mixture. Much as the disciples wanted to weed out all the tares here and now, the fact remains that for the present the Christian School, like any other field on earth, is filled with mixture. But it should, nonetheless, be identifiable as a wheat field rather than a weed field!

So this sea of saints is not a vista of unalloyed saintliness. Those who genuinely are saints - staff and students - do not always live and shine like the set apart ones they have been saved to be. And then there are other students whose parents wanted their children in this Christian environment despite the fact that at this time they are not yet Christians at all. The presence of those who are not Christians in a school that is determined to be a Christian School is both an opportunity and a challenge.

It is clearly an opportunity. Evangelism must be an important goal in Christian Education. It is only as our students are found in Christ that our students will be able to hit the target God has prepared for them, as we have talked about in earlier blogs. The primary focus of Christian Education should be educational rather than evangelistic. However, the education that we seek to offer them will not be possible without this evangelistic imperative. To over-simplify the point: if we do not succeed in our evangelizing, we we fail in our educating.

This is true in terms of academics. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1Corinthians 2:14). As we saw last time, we are teaching our students a Bible-based, Christ-centred curriculum. This makes no sense to the natural mind. To the non-Christian student, all we are saying appears foolish apart from the indwelling Spirit of God. Some more compliant students are willing to jump through our religious hoops and regurgitate our biblical ideas in their classroom participation and written assignments, pleasing us with what they know we want to hear. But unless this exposure to the Word of God leads them to a place of faith in Christ in which these truths become precious, we are in danger of inoculating them against the Gospel by their constant exposure to it and their growing ability to ignore it. In the worst case scenario, a constant diet of biblical perspectives that make no sense apart from the Holy Spirit breeds rebellion.

The same is true in terms of the behavior we expect of our students. This is a Christian School. So we insist that they behave like Christians. Our codes of conduct reflect this; so do our expectations that they would pray and read their Bibles and worship. But it is hard enough for Spirit-filled Christians to behave like Christians! It is impossible for those without the Spirit. Some rebel. Others are outwardly compliant. And despite the fact that the latter group are the ones that get the glowing report cards, they are perhaps the ones we should be more concerned about. Their external conformity to our rules, even to biblical standards, does not constitute genuine salvation, though they may be excused for thinking we believe it does given the accolades we shower upon them.

Graduating successfully from a Christian School without actually becoming a Christian may set a person up for a life in which they have no sense of the need of the gospel. They are in danger of entering the real world with a grounded conviction that legalism and moralism are all that are required to earn favor and commendation. How tragic that some who conform so well to the external requirements of a Christian School are spending their years in that environment developing great moral resolve that blinds them to their need of a savior and his grace.

Pupils who can see is a book that helps us build our educational programs with a biblical view of children in mind. This blog introduces some of the ideas in chapter 9. How do we decide when to include or exclude Chirstian students and what place doe evangelism have in a Christian school? The book is now available in all e-book formats through a variety of outlets at $1.99. 

To find it for Kindle at Amazon.com, click here

To buy a copy for Koboclick here

To download it for iPads and iPhones, go to your account at the iTunes store and search for "Brian Watts pupils"