In June 2004, the Southern Baptist Annual Convention will be held. There is hope that a resolution, calling for Southern Baptists to remove their children from the public system, will be introduced. World Net Daily reported the story in May, as did the News & Record, a prominent newspaper in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Home School Legal Defense Association Weekly Update has also covered it.
However, this is NOT news to the Southern Baptist Convention. In September 2001, T.C. Pinckney, Brig. General USAF (ret), then Second Vice President to the Southern Baptist Convention, addressed the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee in Nashville, TN. Pinckney clearly states in "We Are Losing Our Children" that:
"The ideal, most biblical solution is for parents to teach their children, to be homeschoolers. All our churches should welcome and openly encourage homeschoolers. But clearly many parents cannot or will not home-school. For their children, we need to start large numbers of Christian schools."
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In September 2002, SBC President Jack Graham calls for kingdom schools in his SBC Executive Committee message:
"I think it's time that Southern Baptist churches and associations and groups of churches look more seriously at establishing kingdom schools, Christian schools," Graham said. "I think it's time we look at not only ... equipping young leaders at seminaries and colleges, but we look more seriously at starting at the earliest years, developing disciples and empowering kingdom growth through education."
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However, there is no mention of homeschooling at all. I live near Prestonwood Christian Academy, and the school offers no opportunities for homeschooling families, unlike a local non-denominational, university-model school does. Both SBC President Jack Graham and Larry Taylor, PCA Headmaster and President of the SBACS Executive Committee, (Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools), www.sbacs.org, are highly supportive of church-based schools.
A pipeline of communication has been created between these schools and Southern Baptist institutions of higher learning. The offerings include: college scholarships, discounts on leadership development opportunities, and "premier training…. to raise the level of excellence…. and PRESENT, PROMOTE, PRACTICE and PRESERVE the spiritual and academic culture of their school…."
However, as a life-long Southern Baptist homeschooling family who provides a Kingdom Education to our children, why are we not provided the same resources and opportunities? We have the same mission statement: "developing disciples and empowering kingdom growth through education."
The SBC is sending a confusing message. A popular theme this year among Southern Baptist churches, was The Seven Pillars of a Kingdom Family. The message being sent is that it is preferable for the mother to go to work outside of the home, in order to afford to send her children to a church-based school. Many churches offer classes in support of working mothers, but few to encourage the homeschooling mother. We have committed to surviving on one income, in a two-income world, and to live out Paul's commandment in Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
By not conforming, we have lost many sources of encouragement, support, and friendship. The loss of secular, school based support was easy to accept. What was hard was the rejection of church members. Our family's decision to homeschool was a calling from God. Why were my pastor, Christian friends, and denomination not supportive? At one point, I was ready to walk out on the Southern Baptist Convention. However an article appeared in a May edition of The Baptist Press, "Wanted: Deliberately Christian Parents":
"The good news is there are some encouraging trends in evangelicalism that just might help bring about a needed reformation in Christian parenting. First there is homeschooling while not for every family, many a parent has realized that homeschooling provides a natural atmosphere where they can actively evangelize and disciple their children…. Many homeschooling curricula are Christ-centered, making it easier to talk to children about spiritual things. By all indications, homeschooling is only going to become more popular as time goes on." – Nathan Finn
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I wanted to shout, "Here am I! I searched the archives of The Baptist Press for other homeschooling articles that I may have missed. To my delight, the majority of the March 12, 2003 issue dealt with Kingdom Education, including homeschooling!
"The Christian school movement in our churches is going to take the denomination by storm in the next 10 to 15 years. By the end of that time it will be as unusual to find a church that is not sponsoring or supporting a Christian school and a home school network, as it is today to find a church that does not have a Sunday school program.
This movement and the homeschool movement together are going to radically reshape the way America does school in the next two decades." Ed Gamble, Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools. ("Christian schools, Homeschooling make gains among Southern Baptists" by Tammi Reed Ledbetter [ - Read More - ] )
Church-based Kingdom Schools and home-based Kingdom Schools can work together. The SBC has taken the first step: church-based schools. It is time to take another step: home-based schools. We need the establishment of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Homeschools!
So, we wait to see if the resolution makes it to the floor of the annual convention. If it does, what effect will it have on our convention? Will pastors bring word of it back to their congregations? Dr. Glen Schultz, author of Kingdom Education, and Director of LifeWay Christian School Resources, explains:
"However, very little is being done to help parents understand the kingdom education principles that have been addressed in this book. Sometimes the lack of such teaching and preaching results from the lack of understanding of these issues by the leaders of the church. Unfortunately, sometimes educational issues are avoided because of pressures, either real or perceived, from various groups and/or individuals within the church. Pastors feel as if they are in a no-win situation when it comes to addressing issues related to education.
When parents ask a church leader where they should send their children to school, the leader thinks that any answer he might give is likely to offend someone in the church. Those who home school pressure pastors to encourage other parents to do as they do. Others who teach in Christian schools expect the pastor to support this type of education, while those in public education become offended if the pastor would in any way encourage parents to remove their children from public schools. Pastors believe they cannot give much support to Christian schools because they have some fine Christians who are teachers and administrators in the public schools. They explain that these individuals would consider it a slap in the face if the pastor were to support other forms of education."