A Parents’ Journey
by Marty Wynn, Grace Classical Academy (www.graceclassical.org)
During our daughter’s elementary education, my husband and I found ourselves at an unexpected fork in the road in raising our children. We had pulled our daughter out of the public school that she attended midway through the second semester of her second grade year. We did this without having a plan and it felt drastic, but we simply knew that God was clearly showing us that we needed to do something different in educating our children. We had absolutely no idea what that should look like. As we were in prayer about what God would have for our family, we started asking questions of Christians that we respected. The first two people we asked suggested that we look at Grace Classical Academy. We had never heard of Grace Classical Academy or of classical Christian education. We attended an open house at GCA a few weeks later. As we walked inside, we felt a little like we were entering a foreign land. By the time we left at the end of the evening, what had seemed like a foreign land felt like home.
We heard Mr. and Mrs. Vandiver speak, as well as a board member and a parent. We met teachers and saw classrooms and curriculum. We took our daughter to visit during a school day the following week. Each time we visited, we could feel God’s presence and a sense of peace in the school. We could hear love for God and passion for offering a Christ-centered education in the words of administrators, staff, parents and teachers. We saw well-behaved, respectful children with smiles on their faces. We saw where God wanted our family, and it felt like coming home. We enrolled our daughter in 3rd grade and our oldest son in K4. We had a peace about the decision which was a gift from God even though we could not see exactly where we would go on this journey.
As people found out that we were taking a different path in educating our children, we were taken aback by some of the responses—often from well-meaning fellow Christians. We were advised that we should not “raise our children in a bubble” or asked “Where will the public schools be if all the ‘good’ Christian families leave?” Not wanting to sound judgmental or argumentative, we would usually respond with, “This is what God has for our family right now.”
During that first school year, we continued asking questions of ourselves and others. We began reading about education and classical Christian education, specifically. We didn’t want to raise our children in a bubble; we wanted to raise children that could articulate their Biblical worldview. We wanted to raise children that served the Lord, loved people, and owned their faith. Telling ourselves that “we did not know that we did not know” was not a valid excuse. We often thought back to the advice that my husband’s oldest sister and brother-in-law had given us as we sought a different path for our family—making decisions about raising your children and the parenting choices that are in front of you is clear if you always come back to “Does this benefit my child’s spiritual journey and does this help my child grow closer to God?” Parenting becomes clearer when this is your baseline test for everything as you raise your children—not easier, just more straightforward.
Our consumer-driven culture and the atmosphere of competitive parenting in our society today creates a lot of unrest in parents. There is a delusion in our culture these days that we must raise “perfect” kids, be “perfect” parents, find “perfect” schools, and give our kids “every opportunity” lest they “fall behind.” Christian parents are not necessarily immune. In his article “Forging the Vision for Academic Discipleship,” Dr. D. John Seel says, “Christian parents want a career-oriented education that provides religious justification for a suburban lifestyle of personal peace and affluence. They want an education that is practical, unquestioning, and status promoting. Finally, they want an education that will bring their children back to their neighborhood. They want their children to be just like them: enmeshed, affluent, superficial, and content.” Ouch! We’ve been those parents. Having our three kids at GCA has challenged us to think differently about society’s status quo. Just because a path has a lot of footprints doesn’t mean it’s the right path for our family or where God would have us.
In the same article, Dr. Seel says that, “In the long term, the education we give our children is far more important for the kingdom of God than who sits in the White House.” and “Christian parents need children who have been educated to think about all aspects of life from within a Christian worldview and from the vantage point of the historic tradition of the church.” Dr. D. John Seel’s writing challenges Christian parents and we need to be challenged.
So, what have we experienced, so far, on our journey to educate our children? We have experienced a peace in our home that comes from the alignment of ideas being taught at church, home, and school. We have been challenged to live, as a family, at a higher level for Christ. We understand that it is more important to be an advocate for our children’s education, spiritual life, and character growth than just to be an advocate for our children as the world would have us believe. We have found friendship and Christian community with like-minded people. Our children get to watch adults and other families walk out their faith in different ways.
Is GCA, its staff, teachers and parents, perfect? No. And it would be idolatrous to think so or to have those expectations. Are there sometimes growing pains and tough conversations with administrators, teachers and fellow parents? Yes. But knowing that we all share a love for the Lord and are committed to raising children that first and foremost serve God, love people, and own their faith make those conversations necessary and beneficial. Do we always agree with every single person’s theology? No. Yet, we know that if we agree on the core Statement of Faith, we can disagree on secondary issues and still encourage and love one another.
We accept and encourage you in the following challenges: 1) to continually seek God as you parent and educate your children, 2) to clarify what your are seeking as you educate your children, 3) to read about and gain an understanding of classical Christian education, and 4) to trust in God’s grace and plan for your families and 5) to enjoy the journey He leads you on. May “The Lord bless you and keep you; [may] the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; [may] the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV).