I recently came across an announcement Martin Luther gave to his church members that was in some ways hilarious and, in other ways, would have gotten him thrown out of most churches today. His opening sentence was, “I understand that this is the week for the church collection, and many of you do not want to give a thing.” He continued by saying, “You ungrateful people should be ashamed of yourselves.” He went on to describe what their offerings were supporting with these words: “They are first for the ministers, schoolteachers, and sacristans. The first labor for your salvation, preach to you the precious treasure of the gospel, administer the sacraments, and visit you at great personal risk in the plague. The second train children to be good magistrates, judges, and ministers. The third care for the poor.”
What I found most interesting about Luther’s words was the simple fact that the newly formed Protestant churches were funding school teachers who were training young men and women to become future magistrates, judges, and ministers. Thus, the education of children was a central part of the church’s mission. So much so that the church was paying the teachers just like they were paying the pastors.
As a young pastor, it dawned on me that whoever had the most access to the hearts and minds of children was going to determine what those children ended up believing. Because we wanted to have a major influence in our students’ lives, we took responsibility for a Christian club in every public middle or senior high school in our vast county. However, it didn’t take me long to figure out that our one hour per week in a Christian club and our two hours per week at church were no competition to the thirty-five to forty hours a week our students were being indoctrinated in the day to day training at school. I began to strongly believe that if we were going to truly disciple our children, we would have to start a weekday education ministry.
In my second pastorate, we launched a school. My dream of everyday discipleship became a practical reality, and it actually worked! Today, hundreds of men and women are walking with Jesus and carrying out His plans in business, medicine, law, government, ministry, and more because we decided to make the education of children a central part of our church ministry.
Here’s the great news: It’s not as difficult or costly to launch a school today as it was twenty years ago, and there’s a lot more help available to walk you through the process.
Whether you want to start a traditional brick-and-mortar school, a homeschool co-op, or a school entirely using iLumenEd Online Academy, Renewanation can walk you through the process. With iLumenEd Online Academy, we can relieve the burden of finding teachers, determining curriculum, and worrying about accreditation. Every church can literally start a school as long as they have a passion for giving children a biblical worldview, are willing to make facilities available, and provide adult supervision.
The path to supporting and providing some form of weekday education for students can look very different from one church to another. All churches can open their pulpits to the message that parents must take very seriously their call to give their children a biblical worldview. Some churches choose to get behind the homeschooling families in their community by opening up their facilities during the week. Other churches are choosing a local Christian school to support in a significant way. Yet others are launching micro-schools that use iLumenEd Online Academy, while some can launch a traditional school using their own teachers and chosen curriculum.
Here’s what every church must grapple with: We have lost millions of children over the last forty years, and if we don’t do something completely different in the training of our children, we are going to lose millions more in the next forty years. Non-Christian education at the K-12 and college levels has played a significant role in the loss of our children’s faith. If we hope to save this and future generations, we must act now.
All across the world, non-Christian organizations are launching micro-schools because they understand the power of educating children. What if the church rose up like Luther did in the reformation and declared we are no longer going to sit back and watch our children lose their faith a little more each school day? What if the church rose up and declared enough is enough? What if we fought with every fiber of our being to train our children to know the one true God and be prepared to take His beautiful way of thinking and acting into every sphere of society? What if the church started measuring success, not by the numbers in attendance on Sunday morning but by the number of eighteen-year-old young men and women who are being sent out from their churches in love with Christ, fully equipped to defend their faith, and committed to answering the call God has given them in this world?
Thanks to COVID-19 and the lunacy of leftist ideology in education and society, there is an educational revolution taking place. Never before in my lifetime have parents been more open to the possibility of their children receiving education in places other than the public school. Pastors and church leaders, I challenge you to be courageous and take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to reach the hearts and minds of the children God has entrusted to you.
Please feel free to reach out to our team at Renewanation, and we will walk with you on this journey to once again make the church and the home the most dominant influence in the lives of the children in your church.
Jeff Keaton has been a successful pastor, church and school planter, and ministry entrepreneur. As the founder and CEO of Renewanation, Jeff works across the United States and Canada to help awaken the church to the great need to give every child a biblical worldview. Jeff is married to his high school sweetheart, Michele, and they have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and a grandson. He is the author of The Life of Radical Faith.