top of page

Shema: Is Christian Education a Choice?




Shema: Is Christian Education a Choice?


What the Hebrew word shema can teach us about responding to the increasing demand for Christian education.


By Ron Gordon


As the political season escalates throughout 2024, the ideologies around education will once again take center stage. Most of the debate will focus on support for or against educational choice and how federal and state funding for education should be managed. Most conservative voters will land on the side of strong support for educational choice and moving funding back into the hands of American families to best equip them with the finances to make their own decisions on their child’s education. However, should Christian education really be a choice for the Christ follower?


When asked what commandment was the greatest, Jesus pointed back to Deuteronomy 6:5, referred to as the Hebrew word shema. The Shema is the prayer spoken twice each day in the Jewish culture, morning and evening, as a testament and reminder that we are to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. The name shema gets its meaning from the first words of the prayer, translated as “hear” or “listen.” It’s interesting that this passage from Deuteronomy, the Greatest Commandment according to our Lord and Savior, is wrapped around language Moses shares that is for “you, your son, and your son’s son” (Deut. 6:2) and that “you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:7).


Throughout this passage, the words used include command, rule, and statute, a far cry from how we view education today as an option, alternative, or choice. Our only option as Christ’s followers is to train and educate our children with the Greatest Commandment so that they’ll one day be equipped to also follow the Great Commission in making other disciples of Jesus Christ. The Greatest Commandment is the predecessor of the Great Commission. Our children must first be prepared for battle before sending them out to be “salt and light” in this world.


SURGE IN DEMAND

Over the past few years, with rising concerns across various issues, including biological boys being allowed to use girls’ bathrooms in some public school systems, many Christian parents are finally taking action. According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), homeschooled children have increased over the past two years by more than 60 percent, from 2.65 million (2020) to 4.3 million (2022). Additionally, a 2022 survey of Christian schools by Dickerson, Bakker, and Associates reported nearly 80 percent of these schools were experiencing increased enrollment, with over half of those respondents characterizing the growth as “substantial.” At RenewaNation, we’ve also felt this surge, with inquiries about launching new Christian schools at an all-time high.


Christian homeschooling is a powerful educational option and should certainly be a strong consideration for Christian families seeking to train their children in biblical principles. However, the percentage of married couples in the United States that rely on dual incomes has more than doubled from 1960 to 2000, increasing from 25 percent to 60 percent (Pew Research Center, 2015). With this reality, Christian schools become a critical need for families seeking to train their children according to the Deuteronomy 6 mandate aligned with the values and beliefs they are working to instill in their children.


ANSWERING THE CALL

An urgent need exists to establish more thriving Christian schools to meet this growing demand for education taught around the Judeo-Christian belief system. Pastors, parents, grandparents, and teachers must answer the call.


Pastors who once feared financial stress and membership disunity from launching a Christian school at their churches realize their congregations’ future depends on cultivating families and children who develop a lasting relationship with their Savior, Jesus Christ. More and more pastors are understanding there will be no church in the next generation if we don’t grow disciples in this one.


Parents, grandparents, and guardians, once satisfied that their public schools had Christian teachers, are realizing these teachers are handcuffed by the policies and curriculum their public school boards are adopting and implementing. Parents are discerning that these ever-increasing restrictions greatly limit a teacher’s capacity to push back against the significant influence classmates, curriculum, and culture have on their children. They also see their children being swept away in the cultural wave of technology and social media, dominated by an increasingly sexualized society.


Teachers, once committed to shepherding the children in their public school classrooms with solid academics and a value system reflecting their Christian faith, are recognizing the impact they’ve had in the past is being snuffed out. Teachers don’t have the freedoms they once did to pray with students, craft their own lessons, share their personal stories, or even use the pronouns that match the biological gender of their students in most states. According to a 2023 Education Week survey, 35 percent of public school teachers indicated they are likely to find another job outside of teaching within the next two years.


In response to the heightened interest we’ve received from pastors, parents, and teachers in launching Christian schools, RenewaNation has developed a complete, module-based program with best practices content and templates for each phase of the launch journey. At RenewaNation, we understand every launch project will have its own unique characteristics and won’t fit in a box. Our Christian education coaching team has decades of real-world experience effectively launching and leading Christian schools. We are ready to help you and your team navigate financial decisions, curriculum approaches, leadership development, marketing plans, and every area you will face. Pastors can launch a school in their churches confident the school ministry will be financially viable and one of the best investments they can make to evangelize and disciple their fellowship of believers and local communities. Parents and teachers alike can passionately engage in a community of believers that share the same belief and value system they possess and seek to instill in the next generation.


The English translation of shema in Deuteronomy 6:5 misses the whole meaning of this Hebrew word. Beyond hearing and listening, the full intent also includes responding with action. It’s time to take action! We are poised and ready to help you launch a Christian school in your church or community. The need is great, and the time is now.



Ron Gordon is the Executive Vice President & COO of RenewaNation and leads their Christian Education Team. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering and an MBA from Virginia Tech. He spent 22 years in the Defense industry, leading manufacturing organizations, managing high-level projects, and building cross-functional teams. In addition, Ron has supported church plants, led AWANA groups, and helped over 50 Christian schools through renewal and startup efforts. Ron and his wife, Tonya, live in Roanoke, Virginia, and are blessed with three adult children.



2 Comments


This piece is anticipated to captivate readers of diverse backgrounds on account of its profusion of perceptive data and consequential concepts.

papa’s freezeria

Like

Pastors, parents, and educators have expressed a greater interest in starting Christian schools, thus RenewaNation has created a comprehensive module-based curriculum with best practices content and templates for every stage of the launch process.Dordle

Like
bottom of page