Students who grew up in a Christian home and go to a Christian school need an experience with God’s grace as much as anyone else.
“Why does the school need a campus missionary? Don’t they have chapel time every week and insert the Bible in their lessons? Aren’t they promoting Christian principles?“
I get asked these questions many times. Most people equate a Christian school to a school of Christian students. Reality paints a much different picture.
I hear stories of people getting shocked when someone from a Christian school ends up as a statistic of teenage pregnancy or substance abuse, sinks into depression, or commits suicide.
Ironically, people are not as bothered when they hear of students who graduated from a Christian school make fun of a druggie or a transgender. People are not as concerned when Christian students start to disparage a couple caught in a scandal in their new non-Christian university. People are not as shocked when these students start to withdraw from their wild and worldly classmates and become apathetic to their need for the gospel.
I’m no longer surprised at these things. Leading students who have either grown up in church or who go to a Christian school made me realize that behind these behaviors is simply a lack of understanding of the gospel.
Why do we need to reach Christian schools? Just like any other campus, there are lost students in Christian schools who need to hear, believe, and live out the gospel.
I found that in order to effectively reach students who might be all too familiar with Christianity (this goes for students who grew up with Kids Church, too), we need to remember these principles.
Students who grew up in a Christian school might be prevented from having outwardly shocking behavior, but if all they hear is how good they are compared to the rest of the world, they will fail to understand that they too have fallen short and are in need of the grace of God (Romans 3:23).
When they cross a line or break a rule, their tendency is to hide, thinking that as long as they don’t get caught, all remains well.
Mary* goes to a Christian school where there are strict rules about how physically close they should be with students of the opposite sex. After school, however, she meets up with her boyfriend, a former classmate from another Christian school, to party and to have sex. Her reasons for doing this? She’s not like others, who jump from one sexual partner to another; she and her boyfriend have been together for a year, they were each other’s first, and they want to get married someday.
If we don’t emphasize that we are all sinful and that we need Jesus to transform us, these students will compare themselves to others all their life and struggle between condemnation and self-righteousness.
Anya* grew up in church, but being a precocious child, she looked at the evil happening around her and started to question how a good God could allow these things.
But whenever she would ask her parents or teachers about it, they would scold her for doubting. Finally, she decided she would rather be an agnostic than believe in an apathetic God, and started to tune out preachings or any discussion about God.
When we met, she was staunch in her unbelief, but when she realized that I was open to addressing her questions, she started to meet me every week to challenge my faith. We discussed the book God’s Not Dead, and at the end of our logical discussions, she concluded that she needed to put her faith in Jesus.
Just because a student doubts God does not mean we must panic. In fact, when their faith becomes solid, they will become the best defenders of the Christian faith (1 Peter 3:15).
School rules cannot make someone a follower of Jesus. Rules don’t have the power to change anyone’s heart (Colossians 2:23). In fact, Paul emphasizes in Romans 5 how the law simply reveals our sinfulness, but it has no power to keep us from sinning. Only through personal discipleship will we be able to see real transformation that comes from an understanding of God’s loving-kindness, which leads us to repentance.
Che*, Mary’s classmate, was addicted to porn. She knew she was committing sexual sin, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself from looking for the comfort and pleasure it gave her, albeit temporarily. Afterward, she’d be eaten up by guilt and shame until she felt the need to have comfort again, putting her into an endless cycle of sin and shame.
One day, she went to a Victory group and her life was radically transformed when she understood what Jesus did for her on the cross. She went through a long and difficult process of confessing her sin so she could be accountable to someone. She eventually found joy and comfort in her relationship with God and with the friends He brought into her life. Slowly, she found that throwing herself into God’s purpose for her life brought her so much more pleasure and fulfillment than porn ever did, and she stopped giving in to that addiction.
She is now a Victory group leader and understands God’s calling for her to reach out to others like Mary, who grew up in church and go to a Christian school, but have yet to encounter Jesus Christ personally.
Being in a Christian school will not protect these students from sin, because our sinful nature cannot be uprooted by rules and principles.
Only Jesus Christ can transform us, because He dealt with the root of that sinful nature on the cross. Through the power of His resurrection, a hardened heart that encounters His loving-kindness will not be left untouched (Hebrews 10:3–10).
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
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