While we likely all agree that parents share the primary responsibility for the faith nurture of their children, the Christian school and the church can play major supporting roles. Sometimes it has problematically felt like the Christian school and the church have been competing for the time and attention of the children and young adults they are attempting to serve. It is critical that these two organizations share a common, rather than competitive role.
The common ground that both share is faith nurture of young children and adults, each in different contexts. Whenever churches and Christian schools communicate, collaborate, and even co-plan, the kingdom can be advanced. The focus needs to be on the needs of the young person, not the organization.
Consequently, there are at least four areas of focus for Christian schools and churches as they consider how to best serve a young person’s faith development:
▪ Differentiating – How can we attend to spiritual needs of youth at each stage of their development?
▪ Describing – How has God gifted individual students? How can we help them identify their gifts? How can we encourage them to develop their gifts? What fruits do we see emerging? How can we help young people understand their spiritual pathways?
▪ Discerning – How can we help students with worldview development, cultural “maladjustment,” lifestyle choices, and seeing good and evil in social/institutional structures?
▪ Developing – How can we help connect head, heart, and hands? How can we help disciple young people move beyond personal salvation to Lordship issues? How can we help them articulate their growing faith? How can we help with cross-cultural and cross faith connections?
What are some partnering strategies that you have observed that have proven effective for churches and Christian schools?
Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting Dan Beerens Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He serves as a Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education), represents Curriculum Trak sales and professional development and serves as co-chair of the annual Christian Deeper Learning conference. He blogs regularly for CACE and is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning (Corwin Press) and co-editor of the recent book MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education (ACSI).