What do you remember about your elementary school? Maybe the games you played at recess? Your favorite teacher? The hated multiplication table speed drills? The glorious day when you earned 100% on your spelling test? I remember all those, but my most important memories from my school days don’t have anything to do with the 3 Rs. Here’s some of them:

  • My second-grade teacher reading The Chronicles of Narnia aloud and explaining the ways that Aslan represented Jesus.
  • The club my friends and I started in fourth grade, which required its members to memorize Galatians 5:22-23 and choose one of the Fruit of the Spirit as a codename.
  • Weekly chapels with the whole school, where we recited the memory verses each class had learned and sang Jesus Movement-era worship songs twenty years after they were new.
  • Time spent contemplating life, death, and eternity during the unit study on Revelation in sixth grade.
  • Philippians 2:5-11, which hardly counts as a memory because my life is built on it like a fortress.

Yes, I went to a Christian school: Brea-Olinda Friends Christian School, where I slid into second grade just before my seventh birthday in January and remained, largely with the same classmates, until our sixth-grade graduation when I was eleven. At Brea, I learned handwriting (well), spelling (badly), math (fair to middling), English, history, and science. We also learned Bible stories and Bible verses, theology, how to pray, and what it means to be someone who loves Jesus. My friends and I played silly games, but we also talked seriously about what we thought God wanted us to be like. My teachers gave us the education we needed, but they cared about our souls as much as our minds. When I think about it now, I can see that Brea is a major part of my testimony; it’s one of the ways God worked in my life in my formative years to shape me in the likeness of his Son.

I grew up in a Christian home and went to church regularly, so I certainly wouldn’t have been a heathen if I hadn’t gone to Christian school! However, you know from your own experience that school is the framework for a child’s life. The average American student spends 6.5 hours a day for 180 days out of the year in school, or 1,170 hours in a year. In contrast, a child who goes to church every week spends 78 hours in a year receiving Christian instruction—which means that every year, children spend fifteen times the amount of time in school as they do in church. Their lives are centered around the people and activities that happen in their classrooms and on the playground. This is why I am an advocate for Christian education. Why, in heaven’s name, would we not want children to spend that time immersed in the Christian life?

The world’s voice is loud and insistent, and we are in a time where it has become especially belligerent. It’s hard enough as an adult to be in the world but not of it; imagine being a child who doesn’t have the ability to discern truth or practice fighting off lies. We ought to do everything we can to help them know the truth from the beginning. Christian schools can be a partner in this project, reenforcing the teaching and values kids receive at home and church or providing a place for students and families looking for an alternative to the world’s teaching to come face to face with the truth, surrounding students with like-minded teachers and peers to help and encourage them for the 1,170 hours set aside to learn and grow. And churches and individuals can be a partner in the project of Christian schools, enabling them to carry out this important ministry.

How, you may ask? Well, there’s probably a Christian school in your area; why not ask them if you can help? Whether they need volunteers for their after-school care, donations of markers and glue sticks, or financial support, I’m sure they have needs you can meet. Or, if you have a heart to support Christian schools more broadly, reach out to Church Investors Fund and ask about our Christian School Endowment Fund. This fund is set up to assist Christian schools with their facilities needs, freeing up their resources for operational needs instead. We believe God builds his kingdom in all kinds of ways and are excited to grow this area of our ministry.

Our children are the new wing of the Church; let’s join together in raising them up!