Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 5, Number 3-7, January 31-February 20, 2003


by Roy W. Lowrie, Jr., Ed.D

The Lord's work is never problem-free.

The first writing on the history of the church, the book of Acts, shows the first Christians living through complicated difficulties, some of which were life threatening. Each disciple of Christ died violently, with the lone exception of the beloved disciple, John.

Christian school is a matter of integrity and of maturity. It is not an issue of whether or not the school is of God. His blessing upon the school is evidence that it is a work of God's Spirit, not a work of man. The school-church relationship is susceptible to a number of problems of which school families and church families are to be aware. Staying alert is a big step toward keeping problems out, or toward catching them early so they can be resolved before they become deep and major. The school and the church are the same body, and are to function in unison.

Among the school-church concerns to be monitored are the following:

  • School problems become church pro¬blems. A clear example is serious dis¬ciplinary matters, particularly among employees of the school who are also church members and visa versa.

  • Interpersonal problems between par¬ents, teachers, and administrators are a drain on the pastor.

  • The school can drain leadership away from the church, especially if the church is small.

  • People may begin to believe that Christian school education is the number one priority of the church, hindering the church from being focused on missions, evangelism, or any other important aspect of the mission of the church.

  • Public school teachers in the church are sometimes restless if the ministry of the school is not presented in a gentle, loving manner, for they feel the very existence of the school is a quiet indictment upon their work.

  • Believing that Christian school educa¬tion is the only way for children to grow in Christ and develop spiritually causes problems.

  • Understanding and articulating the purpose of the school — either as evangelistic out¬reach or as building up those who know Christ — is not a simple matter when it may be viewed as competing or in subtle conflict with the church.

  • The investment of church monies for the operation of the school or for the construction of facilities is always a serious decision that will have long-term consequences.

  • The size of the school compared to the size of the church can raise "tail wagging the dog" issues that are very difficult to manage.

  • The school may increase the pastor's coun¬seling load when school parents, who perceive him as a "safe" pastor to seek counsel from in situations relating to their home church, come to him for counsel.

  • Sometimes unavoidable scheduling conflicts arise between school activities and church activities, particularly as sports practice time increases parallel to youth activities.

  • A very high predominance of students from the church enrolled in the Christian school can create the illusion that this is the "school church", thus keeping families whose children attend other schools from coming to the church.

  • Joint use of facilities and equipment can be problematic.

  • The relationship between the pastor and the school administrator can be difficult if the administrator if the pastor is not involved in the life of the school, but still wishes to be the "boss" of the school administrator.

  • If the pastor is also a parent in the school, this causes a conflict of interest that is not easily resolved.

  • It is often sticky when the contract of a teacher, who is a member of the church, is not renewed.

  • Problems arise when some church mem¬bers perceive the school as a threat to the foreign missions, home missions, or any other expensive line item that is important to the church.

  • Division results if school parents stick together or if non-school parents stick together in worship or in church activities.

  • There is a tendency to be too critical of the students attending the school, with heavy repercussions if they get into trouble. The children of the pastor and staff members face the misbehavior of their children as a professional matter, not just a parental one.

It is apparent that each of the above does not fit every Christian school. If any were applicable to your school and church, it would be reasonable to take heed before grievous problems become rooted.

Father, give us wisdom from above, spiritual insight, to see things that could become problems in the relationship between our school and our church. It is the desire of our hearts that the Lord Jesus Christ be high and lifted up in our midst. Show us how to live together in harmony in such a way that Jesus Christ shall increase and we shall decrease. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

© Copyright 1985 Roy W. Lowrie, Jr., Ed.D. Edited for the web by Third Millennium. Used by permission.