The expense of Christian education can be daunting for families. Christian schools not only need to make sure they are providing a quality education within a safe and faith affirming environment they also need to make a case for why sending children to their schools is worth the financial sacrifice.
Mennonite Schools Council and Everence collaborated in 2014 to produce a five minute video to help make the case for Christian education as well as offer suggestions on how it could be affordable. Some key points highlighted in the video and in the seminar offered at the February 2015 Education Leaders Gathering included:
What is the value of Christian education?
A key reason parents feel the financial commitment to Christian education makes sense is because it helps parents prepare their children for the future by helping them experience the integration of faith into all aspects of life and learning. Those who have been through kindergarten through grade 12 Christian education look back and can identify the impact it had on how they feel about themselves, the church and the world. Christian schools partner with both home and church in helping to establish life-long ethics. Perhaps, most importantly, students who attend Christian schools find mentors among their teachers who shape and continue to influence their students’ lives beyond the school years and into adulthood.
Why do parents choose Christian education?
Parents recognize they do not get to redo these early years of raising and training their children. Since our children are in school settings for up to eight hours a day, who they are around makes a difference and becomes a major influence in their lives. Parents want children to be exposed to positive morals. Parents want their children to begin feeling a positive sense of accountability that reinforces what is happening at home. We recognize that in our current world parents can’t do the important job of raising and training children on their own and having Christian teachers connecting with their students provides another source of support. Parents need other trusted adults to provide counsel – to provide what we as parents cannot always provide for our children.
Managing the costs of Christian education
Having established the value of something helps us make the difficult choices of setting priorities to make what we value happen. Walking in the way of Jesus as parents and families has a cost. But the financial sacrifices that we make are an investment in the future of our children as well as the future of our church and community. We all make discretionary choices in life. Many families who decide to say yes to Christian education need to say no to other choices.
There are some congregations that have determined that Christian education is part of their mission and part of their commitment to the children that participate in their church community. Because of this they have established student aid funds that may be part of the budget or may be set up as a discretionary fund that members of the church can contribute to. At the end of the day education is the means by which one generation gets to pass on to future generations what really matters.
Together – parents, schools and congregations - can make things happen that we cannot do on our own. We encourage parents who desire to send their children to Christian schools to begin planning early. An important first step is talking with the school admissions staff to find out about costs and what financial aid is available. Other important steps are talking with grandparents and other family members who may feel called to assist financially and having a conversation with your congregation to explore their level of financial support.
The video on choosing Christian education is found at: http://everence.wistia.com/medias/nephuubnev