I am often engaged in the debate about Christians working in schools. On the one side I will hear churches talking about their mission and how hard it is to ‘get into schools’ and share the gospel. On the other hand there are teachers and secularists who are keen to place a blanket ban on Christian and other faith visitors because they see faith as having no place in the public domain of a classroom.
It’s a debate that has raged for years but seems to be particularly acute at the present time. It is increasingly important, therefore, for Christian organisations to have an approach that can be seen as both Biblically founded and educationally sound. I am currently trying to do just that and my current stage of thinking has led me to identify four models of schools work that may well satisfy both criteria.
Evangelism model – Starting from the great Commission in Matthew 28 v 19 we have the command to make disciples in all people groups. That certainly means young people and can therefore be taken as including the places they are found such as schools. This is the approach taken by lots of groups and the one most feared by secularists. But I believe that a form of faith sharing can be seen as educationally sound. When OFSTED criticize the teaching of RE as being very poor and Christianity in particular, then one possible solution recognized by professionals is to invite contributions from people of faith who say what their faith means to them. It provides for an authentic voice and allows for children and students to be made aware of a spiritual dimension to life, something all schools are required to provide for under statute. Evangelism – faith sharing in a sensible, non coercive form without calls to respond can be educationally beneficial
Servant model – Jesus, according to Phillipians 2 gave up everything and took on the role of a servant. In his earthly ministry he lived a servant existence always seeking to understand and meet peoples needs such as Bartimaus. This is a biblical model for mission that would be very welcome in an educational setting. What do you need? Is a key question Christian workers should ask of their schools? The answers may not be fashionable or glamorous in anyway but they could be transforming – driving a mini bus, working as a lunch time supervisor, supporting reading all great biblical models.
Expert model – Paul says in Romans 12 v 9 – if you are then do it. We each of us have real gifts – if we believe these have their origins in God’s gift to us then we should use them. So if you are a great musician offer to teach children in school, if you can listen then offer to be a mentor, if you can encourage join a pastoral team. It’s a biblical model that has educational integrity
Accompanying model – God the father walked with Adam in Eden, Jesus walked with his disciples and journeyed to Emmaus the Holy Spirit is the paraclete, the one who comes alongside, the accompanier. It’s a truly Godly way of working with young people and an immense educational need. The need for chaplains, pastoral workers, mentors, counselors has never been greater. Doing this work in schools is truly doing the work of the kingdom.
All of us can find someway of working within these models and when we do we can be assured that we are working in a way recognized and initiated by Jesus. We can also be assured that we are working within the parameters of the educational system in a way that has integrity and benefit. Its just got to be a win win .
Nigel’s specialism is Education. He teaches on our BAs and also our CPD
Find out about the next CPD course here…
Education and training qualification in Schools Chaplaincy
29th Feb-3rd Mar2016
St John’s, Chilwell Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham, NG9 3DS
For more information about this course please contact Gill, our MCYM administrator.