One of the great problems with living in a post-Constantinian society is that the government no longer reflects Christian values. I guess it never really did, but the government is now much less Christian than ever before. At times, the government is flatly anti-Christian.
This fact has a huge impact on child rearing. A Christian parent cannot count on the public schools to encourage his children to be good Christians. In fact, the schools are very likely to interfere with your child’s practice of Christianity.
It is therefore imperative that Christian parents realize that parenting is now harder and not likely to get easier anytime soon. On the other hand, the new world offers new opportunities.
To adapt to this new world, Christian parents must accept the fact that they are now strangers living in a strange land. They must raise their children in the United States much as missionaries have to raise their children in other pagan cultures. This means it’s up to the parents to bring their children up as Christians. You can’t count on the school teachers or their friends at church or the Little League coach to be of much help. They may well help–but you can’t count on it.
This means your choice of a home congregation is more important than ever before. You need to find a church that will help you bring your children up, giving them good Christian friends and role models–a place where they can get the training and encouragement they need to live as Christians in a pagan nation.
But even with a great church home, the bottom line is it’s up to the parents to raise their children and bring them to Jesus. It all happens at home or it’s just not likely to happen at all. Nor is it enough to get them baptized. The goal is to raise disciples of Jesus who are strong in their faith, who stay loyal to Jesus for the rest of their lives and bring their children–your grandchildren–up in the Lord.
And you have a tough choice. Ideally, the children of Christians will be equipped to be missionaries for Jesus at school. Rather than being influenced by the anti-Christian culture of the public schools, our children should bring the gospel to their school friends.
However, children mature at different rates, and not every child is ready for this most-important task. You may need to place your children in a private Christian school or home school them. I think the answer differs from child to child.
But in every case possible, we should see the public schools, not as a place that should teach kids to pray (that battle is over), but as a mission field–and celebrate the fact that we are allowed to send our children to reach the lost for Jesus.
I recently spoke to a former youth minister who made a point of substitute teaching and otherwise working at the local public schools to encourage the kids from his church and to open young minds to the gospel. I know Christian public school teachers who risk being fired to teach their students about Jesus. I know principals who do the same.
In short, no longer do we have the luxury of expecting the schools to teach our children to pray. That’s the parents’ job. It really always was. Nor may we expect the teachers and principals to teach our children the gospel. But that’s always been the parents’ job, too. Our home congregation should help, but it’s the parents who have the foremost responsibility. And if we do it right, our children will not only survive the pagan culture of the schools, they’ll help redeem them by spreading the gospel.