Before all time, the Father determined that He would send His Son, Jesus, to consummate all of creation in Himself. Jesus obeyed His Father in all things, being born as a human child, in complete humility and vulnerability. He lived perfectly in total reliance on the Holy Spirit, at the proper time preaching repentance and faith, powerfully testifying to the Father through signs and wonders. Obediently, Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Three days later, by His own power, He came back to life from the dead. After Jesus was resurrected and after he had spent significant time schooling the nascent church, as He Himself had been sent, He sent His church on a mission, and sent the Holy Spirit to empower them for that task until the end of time, to the very ends of the earth.
As Jesus was sent, and as the Spirit was sent, in like manner, the church has been sent. Therefore, the church exists missionally, sent by the triune God to carry out the mission of making disciples of all nations. Wherever the church exists, it exists for the sake of the world, as a sign and proclamation of the kingdom of God. As Christians, everything we do relates to the nature of this Mission given to His church. We all are missional beings living in Spirit-ual fellowship. As a church, we either do this well or we do this poorly, but we cannot help but to do it. Our redemption necessarily (de facto) fulfills this missional part of God’s purposes for humanity. Some call this incarnational ministry, but I think missional may actually represent it better. We are not the incarnate Son, but we have been sent by Him, and we represent Him. Moreover, we don’t do this primarily as individuals, though we are individually responsible; we do this as a body, as the church.
Homeschooling is no different.
I think it is important that we think through homeschooling missiologically and theologically. As important as the political, social, educational, and cultural reasons may very well be, we must not get caught up in the practice of homeschooling and then fail to pursue a purpose that is actually in accordance with a biblical worldview. We must ask very hard questions of ourselves; we must examine our motives and re-focus our agendas. No, I’m not trying to spiritualize the practice (enough of that is already being done unawares!), rather I am calling us to think as critically about homeschooling as we are asking our children to think about quadratic equations, geography, and rhetoric.
The purpose of homeschooling is not to withdraw from the bad, bad world. Rather, any form of education has its primary end in directing a soul to give glory to God in every sphere of life. And God is most glorified, as Piper tells us, when we are most satisfied in Him. Can we not study plate tectonics and astrophysics and give glory to God for the great beauty and mind-boggling complexity of His created universe? Can we not also give Him glory in exerting deep, and sometimes difficult and challenging, inquiry of the same subjects? Does it not also glorify God that He has created and designed the human mind to discern the information and intelligence laced in the very fabric of the universe? What of linguistics, mathematics, biology, oratory, philosophy and a host of other subjects? Or are we proud? Do we want our children to be loved and respected above others? Or do we want them to love and please God?
If God’s glory is the highest end, we learn to love learning because all true knowledge derives from God Himself and all truth is God’s Truth! And we learn to despise error because falsehood reveals the effects of the Fall, in the rebelliousness of human hearts and also in the Satanic world system allying itself against God. But in order to both learn to love God and to battle against sin and the Devil, we know from God’s self revelation that it’s not all about individual human minds either!
If we withdraw into ourselves, within the four walls of our own home, we are in grave danger! We need the church, and the church needs us! God not only has gifted parents with gifts designed bring the entire church body up to maturity, he also gifts your believing children. It’s not enough that your children think or believe rightly, as if Christianity was only a matter of facts and information, they must also live and love rightly. Our minds are transformed so that we can know God’s will and thereby put our gifts to use for the sake of the church and to demonstrate our love boldly towards others (Romans 12). Thus, Homeschooling can never be just about the home!!! We live and operate too often as if getting a child out of the home and into college with their faith intact is some sort of right of passage. We celebrate high school graduation, even college graduation, as if that actually makes a person something different, as if they have arrived. I’m not against diplomas or degrees (I have three, working on my fourth), but the end goal of homeschooling is not graduation! Moreover, its not just about raising our children to be good parents. We don’t know that God will give them a spouse; and we don’t know that God would then give them children. As important as the family is throughout scripture, human families are not the end goal of the universe. The purpose of homeschooling, rather, is to raise up a child who can give glory to God in the church and in the world through their gifts and vocation, and if they have family and children, to fulfill those vocations in like manner. Maturity isn’t measured by academic success, but by a person’s growth in faith and obedience.
How then can parents homeschool missionally? Missional, as I define it, means the church being the church in its given cultural context. It means engaging the culture with the life-giving gospel holistically in the very neighborhoods where its members reside. Homeschools, as embodiments of the gospel and their local church to their neighbors, are providentially placed for taking their neighborhoods by storm. You may have various reasons for choosing to homeschool, but having made that choice, allow God to use you in reaching your neighbors. You will do this by example, in loving truth and learning, but most importantly in physically demonstrating your love for others, through both actions and the verbal proclamation of the gospel. To do this here are a few tips for getting started:
- Encourage your children to play with the neighborhood kids (your kids will need this by the way!)
- Dads, hang out and invest in the father’s in your neighborhood. Be like a father to the kids in your neighborhood whose dads are long gone.
- Mothers, find time to get out with other mom’s, go on playdates; have other families over for dinner.
By practically loving and engaging your neighborhood, you are teaching your kids something neither the public school nor even your church’s youth group (Note: I’m not slamming youth groups) could ever teach them–that the gospel is life!
You know what, you don’t have to homeschool to do any of these things, but I guarantee that if you do homeschool, your kids will excel at this ministry. By learning from you how to talk respectfully, how to treat others better than themselves, how to engage people of various ages, how to speak rationally and well about the gospel, your children will display the glory of God!
A big part of homeschooling is discovering the image of God in your children and polishing it and putting it on display.
Will it be perfect? NO! Will it be easy? FAR FROM IT! But will it be worth it? DEFINITELY!
There is a lot more I want to say on this subject, but I can’t write a post on homeschooling without going over 1200 words, sorry! Please leave me any feedback; things you hate about my post, things you would say differently; some practical handles on how you’ve done missional homeschooling, tips, pointers, etc.