So, let’s envision you are leading a private Christian school and your role includes meeting with potential new families, many of which are led by parents which did not receive the blessing of a Christian education. If you find yourself in this role, you will invariably be faced with the commonly heard objection of “Your tuition is expensive!”.
WHAT DO YOU DO? WHAT DO YOU SAY?
In my experience, working with heads of school, principals, board chairs, development directors, and admissions specialists, there is ONE fundamental fork in the road, which will govern which TWO paths the discussion will go down. In our experience at IGC we have seen one path lead to blessing and one path lead to challenges. Today, we will scratch the surface of how to recognize these two PATHS or PARADIGMS and how to help your potential new families to orient themselves to what is close to God’s heart, as confirmed by scripture. We will look at the (very) basic tenets of these opposing paradigms, viewing Christian education as a COST and a BURDEN, versus viewing it as an INVESTMENT and a BLESSING to the whole family. Before we delve into the details let’s orient ourselves to God’s heart for our children using the Holy Scripture;
CHILDREN ARE PRECIOUS, AND VALUABLE ARE WORTHY OF INVESTMENT.
I am sure that everyone reading this would agree that only the most callous and cold parent who say that our children are unworthy of investment. In fact, Jesus himself conveys how children are of ultimate value;
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-2, ESV)
JESUS COMMANDED HIS DISCIPLES TO INVEST INTO TEACHING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN THE TRUTH
The consequences of not teaching our children the trust and by extension causing them to sin, are clearly outlined by our Savior;
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)
This is not a mere guideline for that Jesus shares with parents and adults, this is an exhortation, a command, which if not heeded brings serious eternal consequences for both student and adult.
INVESTING IN CHILDREN BRINGS JOY
Many of you can relate to the depth of the blessing that comes from choosing to heed God’s commands, regardless of the area of our life in question, brings joy.
“It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:3-4 NIV)
Our Brother in Christ, John the Apostle affirms that the GREATEST JOY, here on earth and eternally in heaven, comes from a) teaching the truth and b) walking in truth. INVESTING in Christian schooling for your students, brings a powerful partner to the table that has an unparalleled opportunity to do both. For the JOY and the BLESSING of each student and their respective family. From our brief review above, Children are precious in the Lord’s sight and are worthy of investment. It is also clear that we are called to invest in teaching children God’s truth. Thirdly, it is clear that our investments bring JOY and BLESSING both here on earth, and eternally. No other entity has as much access to and influence on children during their waking hours as a School does. So, we need to choose WHO is pouring their 1100-1200 hours of access annually into our children, and WHAT they are pouring into our children. Praise the Lord that there remains a viable Christian Education option in North America.
We as parents need to choose to;
INVEST into our students, by CHOOSING TO invest in Christian Education, ensuring that they are being taught in accordance with the TRUTH, which brings JOY AND A BLESSING to the whole family. Placing the spiritual well being, and spiritual and academic growth of our students as a HIGHEST PRIORITY in our lives in alignment to God’s own heart – being willing to SACRIFICE where required (vacations not taken, driving an older used vehicle, working an extra shift, living on a strict budget) to bring BLESSINGS AND JOY to our lives. Or; focusing on the COST, disqualifying our students from a Christian education by claiming tuition as a insurmountable FINANCIAL BURDEN, unwilling to make the SACRIFICES that are potentially required for a Christian Education teaching with a Christian worldview. We encourage all parents who are considering or re-considering their choice of School Partner to; identify their priorities for their family and their students examine their motivations for choosing or not choosing a Christian education testing their priorities and motivations against God’s heart as conveyed in scripture. I hope that next time you are sitting in front of your next set of prospective parents this short summary is useful to point them to the JOY AND THE BLESSING of a Christian Education, shifting hearts away from less God honoring areas of focus.
A family choosing Private Christian School as their partners are typically investing between $9 and $10 per hour for the 1100-1200 hours of instructional and discipleship time a Christian School has with the students, less than minimum wage in over half the US states and ALL the Canadian provinces. By choosing to invest in their students, important to God’s heart, parents are making the highest yielding eternal investment they could make but it is ultimately their choice; A note of caution to the reader. One thing we can NEVER do is use material such as that above to create a sense of GUILT, as a coercive tool to somehow “manufacture” increased enrollment. Our role as leaders is to present information on our school, God’s vision and mission for it, and its heart and how it honors God’s heart as presented above. Our job is to present the potential Eternal Value (or the Eternal Return on Investment) that comes from INVESTING in a Christian Education. 2 Corinthians chapter 9, verses 6 and 7 are crystal clear that God blesses those who GIVE SACRIFICIALLY and SOW ABUNDANTLY in their students, with a cheerful heart – not under compulsion. As leaders we need to encourage our parents become cheerful INVESTORS in their students. Our heart at IGC is that every family that is willing to CHOOSE TRUTH and MAKE REQUIRED SACRIFICES be able to experience the JOY and BLESSING of education, preparation, equipping, mentor-ship, love, nurturing, and discipleship that comes through deploying the 12,000-14,000 “grade school hours” in a manner that honors the value that our Lord places on our children. This is why we at IGC are so passionate about “Strengthening Christian Schools for powerful Kingdom Impact” strong, well managed, well governed, well resourced Christian Schools are in the best position to come alongside families.
Strong Christian schools are those that have a well defined and consistently articulated strategic plan, a well equipped strategic leadership team, a well thought out plan to create a strong discipleship culture, financial management systems which steward investment that fuels the future, and fundraising plans and activities which focus on seeing the Vision and Mission thrive rather than the school survive.
Not coincidentally those schools which invest in improving the areas mentioned above, also have the financial wherewithal to offer robust tuition assistance and bursary programs to help bring JOY and BLESSING to those that just can’t meet the financial investment required. If you are involved in leading a school that is struggling and there is a decided lack of Joy, know that you are not alone.
The IGC team has “been” right where you are. If you wish to explore the BLESSING and the JOY that comes from Strengthening your school, our team of experts are here to help.
About the Contributor:
Shaun Alspach was called by the Lord into pastoral ministry after a 20+ year career leading publicly and private companies ranging in value from a few million to over one billion dollars, and volunteering at his own children’s Christian school. Shaun was then called into the ministry of IGC after recognizing that even the best church in the world only has between 100 and 200 hours of access to students, paling in comparison to the discipleship opportunity afforded Christian Schools and their 1100-1200 hours per year. Over his tenure with IGC, Shaun has used his diverse “toolkit” of leadership, corporate governance, strategic planning, financial management, marketing, fundraising, preaching, teaching, counseling, and discipleship skills to strengthen Christian schools for powerful Kingdom Impact. He is currently head of school for an IGC Client; leading an exciting new chapter of transformation. Shaun continuously looks forward to glorifying God by coming alongside schools in need. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.