No matter what you might have heard or read about on the news, public schools are not a “no-go” zone for churches. In fact, a growing number of churches are reaching out to their local schools through service projects. These include supplying underprivileged students with backpacks, providing crates of school supplies to teachers, and church members volunteering to perform clean-up projects on Saturdays.
But our involvement in local schools does not have to end with service projects. In fact, you and your church can influence what students are taught in class about the Bible and Christianity. Really!
Too many educators have the false assumption that teaching about the Bible and Christianity is forbidden and that expressions of faith cannot be allowed in class. The truth is quite different, and the truth will set them free to help students develop better.
For example, many educators are surprised to discover that their state’s academic standards provide ample opportunity for them to teach about the Bible, Christian beliefs, and Christians who were influential in history.
For example, in California, sixth grade students are expected to: “Note the origins of Christianity in the Jewish Messianic prophecies
, the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament, and the contribution of St. Paul the Apostle to the definition and spread of Christian beliefs (for example, belief in the Trinity
, resurrection, salvation).”
When they get to tenth grade and study World War II, California expects students to “discuss the moral courage of Christians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Raoul Wallenberg, who risked their lives to save Jews.”
In Tennessee, students are expected to study the Ten Commandments. In New Hampshire, students are to “analyze how religious ideas of morality have impacted social change (for example, the Abolitionist Movement or the debate over legalized abortion).”
How about that—an educator in New Hampshire is expected to teach about the Christian belief in the sanctity of life!
In Pennsylvania, students are to “identify and explain how individuals and groups made significant political and cultural contributions to world history.” And the academic standard includes as examples: “Pope Leo X, John Calvin, John Wesley, Martin Luther, and Ignatius of Loyola.”
But all too often, educators are uninformed about their state’s academic standards. They are afraid to give faith topics too much time or attention, so they opt to teach only what is in the textbook.
To help churches be a positive influence on their local public schools, our friends at Gateways to Better Education offer a half-day professional development seminar specifically for educators. Bringing this seminar to your community will give educators the confidence they need and practical strategies they can use. They will learn how to make their classrooms faith-friendly places where all students can feel free to express their faith. And they will learn how to teach about the Bible and Christianity as they relate to history, culture, and values.
Based on surveys of public school educators who attend Gateways’ seminar, 78 percent indicate they will teach more about Christianity, the Bible, and America’s religious heritage.
You can get Gateways to Better Education involved in your community’s public schools. Please come to Breakpoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to Gateways to Better Education.
Whether it’s Gateway’s materials that parents can pass along to educators and students, or their seminars for parents and educators, Gateways can help your church be a positive influence on what students learn this coming school year.
Again, please come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary to learn more.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Publication date: June 23, 2014