The issue of homeschooling is a battleground in the church today. Each side takes positions that divide the body of Christ.
(I list various viewpoints. Not everyone in each category has these viewpoints and there are others besides these.)
- Parents have the God-ordained responsibility to raise their children to love the Lord.
- Peer pressure from public education institutions (including private Christian school) results in worldly, disrespectful, and badly-behaved children.
- The institutional church should not impose its own ideas on families and should not attempt to usurp the authority of parents.
- Parents have the right to make decisions in the church that affect their own children.
- The church should provide ministry to children in the form of Bible instruction for children who might not otherwise have the opportunity for such instruction.
- Bible teaching should be geared towards a person's ability to understand the message.
- Since children can't understand adult Bible teaching, it is the responsibility of the church to provide teaching focused at a level they can understand.
- Even parents need to hear and understand the Bible teaching in the church service and should not have to be distracted by children — their own or anyone else's.
- Church leaders have the responsibility to make policies that contribute to the orderly functioning of the members.
- Not all policies will be 100% satisfactory for all members. Each member needs to adapt to the policies for the unity and the good of the whole.
These positions in and of themselves seem right and could be defended from scripture. If both sides were willing to understand and accept the positions of the other and to relate to one another with a spirit of harmony and unity there would not be a problem. It is not the positions themselves that are the problem, it is the desire by both sides to control the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the other. In this we have the war.
Attacks by homeschoolers
- Public and private schools are not Biblical and are institutions originating from Satan.
- It is unbiblical and morally wrong for a church to provide a Children's Church program.
- It will damage my children if I allow them to mingle with the Godless, disrespectful, and unruly public school children at my church by allowing my children to participate in the Children's Church program.
- I have the right as a parent to insist my children be allowed to sit with me in the church service and even to participate on the worship team or as an usher or greeter. It is wrong for the church to take that right away from me.
- Children who attend public school or even private Christian school are godless and inferior to my children.
- Parents who send their children to public school or even private Christian school are worldly and have forfeited their responsibilities as parents by allowing godless people to educate their children.
Attacks by church leaders
- Homeschool parents are arrogant to think only they are capable of loving and ministering to their children.
- Homeschool parents are wrong in thinking their tight-knit family experience should be supported by the church.
- Homeschoolers are self-centered and self-absorbed and don't reach out to other families who are hurting or in need of ministry and love.
- Homeschool parents are unreasonable and unwilling to compromise.
- Homeschool children are disadvantaged in that they lack opportunities for socialization.
- It is the duty of every Christian child to go to public school so they can preach the gospel to the lost of this world.
- As a leader of this church I must break the spirit of anyone who opposes me to demonstrate my God-given leadership and authority.
Peace in Christ
We must end the war. The division in the body of Christ must cease. The homeschool issues must not be allowed to destroy churches and create strife in the hearts of both homeschoolers and church leaders. To do this each side must aggressively disarm and embrace and encourage the other.
- Understand the difficult challenge church leaders face.
- Be willing to wholeheartedly accept church policies even if they are not what you would prefer.
- Pray for your church leaders.
- Support your church policies even if you must send your children to Children's Church or even teach a class at Children's Church yourself. Nothing will do more to end the war than this selfless action.
- Stop saying hurtful and Christ-dishonoring things about your church leaders behind their backs.
- Get rid of the us-they mentality and view each side the way Christ views them — as good and faithful servants who are loved by the Lord.
- Stop thinking that a child's unruly and disrespectful behavior is the worst thing in the world. Unless of course you yourself are perfect in all you say, think and do.
- If you cannot wholeheartedly support your church leaders, quietly leave the church without taking even a single other person with you. Continue to be supportive of the church in your speech and thoughts.
Church leader actions
- Stop thinking about what a burden these homeschoolers are and enjoy the cozy families they have.
- Stop thinking you have to oppose the homeschoolers at every turn. They have the God-given responsibility to be concerned with the well-being of their families and children.
- Don't deny the facts and observations that homeschoolers bring up. Be willing to acknowledge that peer pressure in children and young people has a profound effect on their thoughts and actions.
- Accommodate homeschoolers as much as you can.
- Be willing to suggest to a homeschool parent the possibility that if they are not happy, prosperous, and supportive at this church, perhaps it would be better for them to find somewhere else where they would be happier.
- Don't think being a minister to a homeschooler is any different than for any other person. People are all self-centered and selfish and if left to their own devices are all capable of instigating a church split. This is not unique to homeschoolers.
- Pray for the homeschool families in the church.
My thoughts since writing this article, now that I've forever abandoned loyalty to the model of institutional churches based on overly-controlling bishops or rigid denominationalism (including dogmatic non-denominationalism)...
Above, I propose homeschoolers leave their local church and find one more suitable. Sadly, there are none more suitable.
I doubt if such conflicts can be resolved. Institutional churches require conformity to maintain unity.Perhaps the only solution is for homeschoolers to band together into homeschool churches. This requires several factors...
- A suitable location for church meetings.
- Leaders who can agree and who have pastoral skills.
- Willingness of everyone to work as a team.
And what happens to these churches once the kids have grown?
Perhaps a home church modelshould be the norm as it was in the apostolic church.