ACSI — Vol 17.3
Urban School Services
Is Christian schooling good for all children? The answer to this question is usually the driving factor and the deciding factor behind Christian schools’ admissions policies. For example, if a school only admits students from a Christian home where at least one parent is a Christian, the school believes that Christian schooling is good only for children from Christian homes. Perhaps another way to look at this—and what is perhaps really suggested by the question—is, What students are good for Christian schooling? Among Christian schools today, the prevailing belief is that if the percentage of non-Christian students in a school reaches a critical mass (say, 15 percent), then the mission and effectiveness of the school is greatly compromised. Usually, the rationale behind the practice presupposes, for example, that a group of non-Christian parents could launch a coup whereby they successfully derail the school from its Christian mission and distinction, or a group of non-Christian students could act as corrosive leaven and eventually poison the student body. The conclusion follows that these students and these parents are not good for Christian schooling; therefore, Christian schooling is not good for them. The fear is that when Christian schools start compromising in their admissions policies and practices, they start down a slippery slope that eventually lands them far away from their Christian foundation.
This fear operates as a debilitating force preventing Christian schools and educators from expanding their services to children for whom they believe Christian schooling is not. Fear, not love, is the driving force behind the schools’ admissions policies. These schools, in essence, operate as “love/fear academies.” That is, some children are admitted out of love, while others are omitted out of fear. Other fears also factor into the decision making concerning which children to admit and which ones to omit. If the students being considered for omission pose a perceived threat, then the Christian school is not good for those students.
The truth of the matter is that God loves those children. They are highly valued by Him. It would seem that the schools that operate in the name of Jesus would also assess children with His assessment. Therefore, I would offer that the question really being asked is not whether Christian schooling is good for all children but whether Jesus Christ is good for all children. Or, to put it another way, are there some children Christ would not welcome into His school if He were here serving as a school administrator? Are there children He would fear because they would pose a threat to His program? On the contrary, I think His admissions policy would go something like this: “If any child is willing to do My will, he or she is welcome in My school.” He probably would then instruct the adults to permit the children to come to Him, that He might bless them. This is not a matter of guesswork, because this is exactly what He practiced as recorded in the Scriptures.
When those around Him questioned the wisdom of going to the home of such a person as Zacchaeus, Jesus reminded the audience that Zacchaeus also was “a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9–10, NIV). When He was questioned concerning the company He kept (“with tax collectors and sinners”), Jesus informed them that what He valued was mercy (Matthew 9:11–13). Finally, when a woman who was a reputed “sinner” was accepted by Jesus, others around Him doubted if He knew what kind of person she was, and Jesus responded with a lesson on love and forgiveness (Luke 7:36–50). Again, when His good-intentioned disciples sought to keep the children away from Jesus because they thought that they had His best interest at heart, Jesus quickly corrected them because He also wanted to touch and bless the children as well as the adults (Mark 10:13–16). It leaves one to wonder how many children are not being socially and academically blessed by Jesus because they are not welcome in the schools His people operate. This is a tragic state of affairs because the prevailing reason is not so much the belief that Christian schooling is not good for all children, but the belief that all children are not good enough for Christian schools.