“Many Christian schools have incomplete plans because they have limited resources… when they have limited resources because they have incomplete plans.”
A large majority of Christian schools are struggling financially or are a decision or two away from a significant financial struggle. Many have closed their doors not because they provided a poor education, but because they did not generate the necessary revenue.
Many of the Christian schools that believe they are financially healthy are meeting their budgets by materially underpaying their teachers and staff. Paying below market compensation has not only become almost universal, but acceptable and often even considered appropriate.
The thinking goes like this – “teachers and staff are called to serve. A Christian school is a ministry and therefore, it is unbiblical to be motivated to serve based on money. The Bible is clear, the pursuit of money is inappropriate.” IGC agrees teachers and staff of Christian schools should not be motivated primarily by money.
More importantly, this is what the inerrant WORD OF GOD says:
1 Timothy 6:10
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
However, this is only one aspect of the Biblical instruction. The Bible also speaks to the responsibilities of the employer. It clearly states employers are to properly compensate their workers:
"Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me," says the LORD of hosts."
“You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.”
“Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath.”
Many will read this and say, “but we simply cannot pay them at market rates.” IGC disagrees. The funding model in Christian education is broken. Tuition and fees simply cannot and will not provide the revenue necessary to be financially sustainable. So, how can the funding model be fixed?
Some believe we need to turn to the government for direct funding or for voucher type solutions. IGC disagrees. We believe Government funding of any kind will eventually have strings attached that will threaten the very existence of Christian schools… unless they conform to the ways of the world. Once again, more important than IGC’s opinion is what the Bible says:
2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Taking money from the government forms a dependent relationship with an unequally yoked partner. Our Christian values will not be upheld by the government, which is why the Bible warns against these relationships. Our values are viewed as bigoted and racist. In the end Christians will be hated by everyone. Partnering with the government is short sighted and unbiblical.
Some believe we simply need a large donor or two to fix our funding problem. Once again, IGC disagrees. Receiving large donations that meet our budgets each year may seem like a very desirable solution, but this simply enables the continuation of existing behavior, eliminates the need to get stronger and potentially turns over effective control to a few individuals… this can cost you your vision and mission.
The donors may be God honoring high integrity people, but school decisions will inevitably be impacted disproportionately by the views of these donors. The school will be motivated to make decisions that conform to the desires of the large donors that keep it afloat. The Bible clearly states we are to do the work necessary to meet our needs:
2 Thessalonians 3:8 “Nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.”
So, what is the solution? First, there is not a single idea, silver bullet or magic pill that can be taken to fix the Christian school funding model. To become financially sustainable requires a new way of thinking. Christian schools need to create an organizational structure designed for material revenue generation, employ people that are highly gifted in this area and commit energy and resources to the generation of substantial multiple streams of non-tuition revenue. This requires the development and implementation of a strategic plan and a more sophisticated revenue generation strategy. IGC is confident that given a proper plan, organizational structure and the right people on the team, Christian schools can become financially sustainable and meet their biblical obligation to compensate teachers and staff at appropriate levels.