Should churches start more schools?

Here is a post from the Ministry Matters blog by United Methodist Christian blogger Shane Raynor exploring why he thinks churches should be starting more private schools.  While Methodists and Wesleyans have been quite prodigious in founding colleges and universities, we have not been so zealous in starting primary, elementary, or high schools, certainly not like our Anglican and Roman Catholic brethren.  I believe part of the reason for this lack of interest in grade-schools is an historic support for public education among United Methodists as (in principle) the best way to promote solid education among all students of all demographic and socio-economic groups (whether public education across this country actually delivers on that promise is another question entirely). 

I am a product of both an excellent Roman Catholic elementary school and some very fine small-town public schools as well.  I know that in many communities the public schools are not only excellent but also friendly towards the Christian faith.  However on the national level, we must consider the current cultural realities:

- given that children will spend far far more time being shaped by (largely godless) television programming than they will spend in church activities; 
-given that family devotions, once the staple of Christian formation, now seems like an endangered species;
- given that our public education will more and more reflect and promote values that are simply contrary to the teachings of the Bible and the Churches - many worry about this when it comes to marriage, sex, and family, but also there is the concern about prophetic and Gospel "truth-telling" in an "aggresively tolerant" (don't ever say anything that might upset anyone) milieu;
- given that children will spend far more time in the school environment than at church, whether or not that school environment is hostile to the faith;
- given that private schools offer an excellent connection point for churches with the young families that are so often lacking in our church life;
- given that Christians virtually invented the education system as we know it and, in keeping with that heritage, still provide education that generally out-performs public education (especially in large cities)
...given all of these current cultural realities, I completely agree that - at least in many places - more church-sponsored schools would be a boon for the church and the future of the community as well.

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Blogger Methodist Monk said...

I had this conversation the other day with my wife.

1. When Methodists originally supported "public schools" they did so in a time when they were primarily a Christian based curriculum. Part of me thinks the "hang up" over starting schools is outdated.

2. With the failure of today's public run school system. I believe either Louisiana or Mississippi ranks dead last in this regard. Don't we have a responsibility to educate future generations of children? I would love us to start schools as a "mission" not as some football powerhouse money maker as other denominations do.

9:43 AM, April 15, 2013  
Blogger Simply Me said...

My children went to pre-school at our Methodist church and were wonderfully prepared for kindergarten. Had our program continued on into elementary school, we would have had them in it because of the academics and because of the culture and Christian-based curriculum of the school.

11:58 AM, April 15, 2013  

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