To Those Who Teach or Administrate in Christian Schools

The issues of “rules” in a Christian day school setting have been discussed for many years.  Now with a full generation or more of “products” since the great explosion of evangelical Christian day schools hit our country in the 70′s and 80′s, many are being forced to admit that most of us would not want to attend the reunions of our graduating classes as we’d feel horrifically out of place.  In other words, the “rules” really didn’t make that much of a difference.

Mike Durning has written a thought-provoking article for those who still think that “rules” and “standards” help produce good Christians.  When I first began raising similar questions nearly twenty years ago, I was considered a renegade and a “liberal”.  Mike does a great job of making his case and if you are part of a school that seems to be “rules-oriented”, may I suggest you read his essay and follow the ones that will be released over the next few days.

You can find it HERE.

10 thoughts on “To Those Who Teach or Administrate in Christian Schools

  1. Aaron Blumer

    If “most of us would not want to attend the reunions of our graduating classes as we’d feel horrifically out of place,” wouldn’t that mean that “most” of us turned out pretty good? And would that mean the rules worked for us?
    I’m inclined to think that rules help the helpable and but either harden or just irritate those who aren’t interested anyway. They do not *reach* people. But I believe they do teach the teachable (actually “train the trainable” would be more accurate I think. It’s about habits.)
    I attended four different Christian schools growing up (from 2nd grade on), but I’m one of the few left (apparently) who still believe the rules were mostly a good thing.

  2. Dan Burrell Post author

    Aaron, my issue was not with the rules, but how they were applied in the extremely conservative school I attended. Thankfully, I had parents who had more patience and grace than the administration of the school or I might well have rebelled against the “system”. As it was, for several years after leaving college (where I received even more reinforcement in “rules living”), I lived a pompous, arrogant, critical life that judged others harshly on their commitment to “rules” as opposed to the genuineness of their relationship with God.

    I assumed when I wrote the “class reunion” line that I was addressing those who were in Christian education today — not the whole of those who attended.

    I’m not against rules. I’m against the artificial standard of spirituality and the attitude with which many rules are enforced in our settings that Mike seems to have in his crosshairs.

    Thanks for publishing the article. I think the discussion is very healthy.

  3. bob

    The issue I believe is giving youth the impression that external compliance equates to godliness….or the idea that if you are good at keeping rules you are godly. I was the kind that was good at keeping rules for the most was no big deal to me but in time I was trapped by pride and God found the need to break it.

  4. Rus

    I like how Aaron adjusted his response from “teach the teachable” to “train the trainable” because for me it’s a good way to look at the discussion. Training, as I understand it, does not necessarily include understanding and knowledge. It is outward behavior for the most part. Teaching, as I understand it, is bringing someone from the unknown to the known. Both are valuable and “rules” address the training (as it relates to what happens during a school day) while teaching address WHY the rules are there. I believe true heart (and mind) change will happen from the inside out and therefore the teaching MUST accompany the rules. I suspect the essence of the while essay will be that schools (and churches and homes) need to find the correct balance between teaching righteousness and training righteousness.

  5. bob

    True righteousness is a fruit of the Spirit and can come only from spiritual rebirth…habits and training and discipline are good but “living water flows from the hearts of believers…”

  6. Rebecca Aguilar

    Sorry…I don’t buy this argument. Actually I blame the parents. If parents did not agree with dress standards or whatever at the school, all they had to do was explain to their children why, give reasons from the Bible and teach them to respect and obey the rules as long as they CHOOSE to be a part of the institution. Rebellion comes when the PARENTS make fun of the rules at home and do not support the authority of those in charge.

    My seven kiddos go to a Christian school. Do I agree with all the rules? NO! Do I think some of the rules are downright dumb? YEP! However, I tell my kids that as long as they go to the school they will obey the rules and they will not criticize. I tell my kids they may not agree with all the rules we have at home but as long as they live under my roof it is wrong for them to disobey my rules. When they are on their own, they will answer directly to God for their actions.

    I don’t expect the Christian school to make my children into good Christians. To be honest, I don’t expect our home to make them into good Christians. I fail too much and am not the example that I wish I were to them 24/7. I pray earnestly that GOD would have mercy and work in their lives and that they would always love and serve the Lord. I won’t blame the Christian school if they don’t turn out right. What does that have to do with it? God loaned our children to my husband and me and it is our responsibility to do our best to raise them right.

  7. Wally

    I agree with Rebecca. Mr. Durning should grow up a little. Nothing is perfect. Christian school is better than public school anyday. Rules are there for a reason. And, like Rebecca said, we respect the rules of the institution or we change institutions. The crying and moaning because my little darling got her feelings hurt because of some mean old rules is rediculous.

    No one should expect rules or Christian schools to bring our kids to Christ. We have primary responsibility to teach them the whole truth of the Bible including how to defend it. If God is not preeminent to us, He will not likely be preeminent to them. If we take our responsibility for our kids seriously and pray for them constantly, God will take care of the rest.

    Pastors and teachers can only shoulder so much responsibility. Parents need to grow up…

    Miami, FL

  8. bryan baskin

    Totally agree with Rebecca Aguilar’s post. I would just add that I grew up in a Southern Baptist church in the country. Over the course of many years, I saw behavior at all levels that was indistinctive from the unsaved world. It was culture shock for this Southern Baptist teen to go to his first “indy fundy Baptist” church camp and see a lady’s softball team with everyone in dresses and culottes. I never accepted the rationales for it all but my first impressions were not to indignantly thunder, LEGALISM. My first thoughts were, “wow, these people take their committment to Christ so seriously they even let it affect their dress.” I guess I say all that to say simply that one person’s legalism may be another’s discipline. The heart behind the standard is the key. I’m glad you clarified that in your response to Aaron, Dan. I might also add that if legalism is excessive separation from the world to the point of isolation, the contemporary American church has little to worry about. (Oh, to be in a worship service that bears more of the influence of Christ than American Idol!)


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