May 13, 2009

Are Southern Baptists Starting to Get Serious About Christian Education?

Morris H. Chapman is the president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and one of the most influential leaders in the SBC. In a very important new article, Dr. Chapman proposes that perhaps "our focus in the evangelical community should shift at least in part from training our children during the transition to adulthood to placing greater emphasis on training up a child in the way he should go." Some highlights:
I'm not advocating the neglect of what we have already established in higher education, but simply a course correction in an area that seems to have suffered neglect -- the protection and nurturing of the spiritual health and growth of children and adolescents. In far too many public schools throughout the country our children are being bombarded with secular reasoning, situational ethics and moral erosion. ...

Do not misunderstand; I believe the primary responsibility for raising children is charged to parents. However, it is undeniable that the church is charged with training parents and working with them to ensure tender shoots survive when moved from the greenhouse to the harshness of the natural environment.

To be sure, there are a number of areas where Kingdom education at this level would be a welcome alternative to public schools. Many of our inner cities are suffering from failed families and failing students. In Baltimore, Md., for example, schools are experiencing dropout rates up to 60 percent; 70 percent of teens are sexually active; and, the city has alarming rates for crimes, sexually transmitted diseases and out-of-wedlock births.

In such areas, Kingdom schools would serve as a central ministry among a myriad of ministries that would help families recover from the chaos that now exists and help them establish Christ in the home. ...

The focus should not be to abandon public schools, but to be certain not to abandon our biblical responsibility to come alongside parents in training up a child in the way he should go. Can we ignore the enormity of this need any longer when our children so desperately need to be fortified with strong biblical precepts as well as history, grammar, literature, civics, math and science? In recent days, two questions have weighed heavily on my soul. If Southern Baptists don't do it, who will? If we don't do it now, do we risk forever losing the opportunity to build schools for God's glory and the future of our children, grandchildren and the land we love?
Crossposted at Choice Remarks