One of the most important decisions that a parent makes is where they send their child to get an education. Seeing how most students spend over 30 hours each week at school, it’s important to find somewhere that has the same values and morals that parents try to teach at home.
For many Christians, this means finding a Christian school. Private schools tend to be much smaller than public ones, though. This might make a parent wonder if Christian schools have enough activities to broaden their student’s educational experience.
Another thing to consider is college. It’s a time when many young people find themselves, so being in the right environment to explore and deepen their faith can be just as important as learning traditional academic subjects. The right Christian college can also prepare young people for careers within their denomination while also fostering a sense of spiritual identity within themselves that will last a lifetime.
The Christian Aspect
Perhaps the best part of Christian schools is the fact that everything is centered on certain beliefs. It can be very confusing for children to learn about things that don’t align with their religion. If children learn about evolution from their teachers but creationism at church or home, who should they believe?
In a Christian school, kids are only taught what their denomination believes. They also learn that school and church don’t have to be separate. Christians are always Christians, not just at home or at church. Kids can have access to religious activities at Christian schools, like Bible classes, ministry teams and church choirs.
College can also be a fertile ground for growing the Christian faith. There are many clubs, choirs, missionary groups and student associations dedicated to Christianity. Some are national and open to all college students across the country, including Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) and the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF). Others are specific to their universities or to local chapters of wide-reaching church organizations.
All things considered, if you want your children to learn Christian values, you’ll need to put them in an environment where Christian values are both preserved and encouraged. Christian schools aren’t the only institutions where this can happen, but they’re a good place to start.
Christian activities don’t have to be extracurricular. Some take place during the school day and can even be required for grades or credits. Along with Bible classes, for example, many Christian schools have chapel during the day.
As for what subjects Christian schools teach, the answer can be vast and varied. Traditional subjects are usually kept intact with younger students learning things like math, science and social studies. Older students might branch into subjects like history, government, literature and foreign languages.
Non-traditional subjects can join the roster as well. Because private schools don’t depend on state funding, they are often able to keep classes that other schools are forced to cut. For instance, Dublin Christian Academy only has about 100 students, but they still have classes that many larger public schools don’t have anymore, like home economics, business, art and music. (Parents can go to Dublin Christian Academy Website to see an example of what activities Christian schools can offer.)
On the college level, faith-based classes are usually part of a degree program. A student who is majoring in religious studies, for example, might take classes in theology, ministry, world religions, social ethics and Biblical history. A student who is majoring in religious education might be required to take leadership classes or to engage in community-based engagement activities for charity. Additional, more specialized classes are often available for students entering faith-based occupations such as pastor or preacher that have their own professional criteria.
There are even missionary classes for those who want to go abroad. Many of today’s missionaries earn degrees like a Master of Arts (MA) in Intercultural Ministry Education, and their degree program can require time spent overseas.
Overall, however, different Christian degree programs will have different course requirements. General faith-based subjects such as Bible studies might be required for all majors while more specialized ones might only be part of niche sub-disciplines.
To have a truly well-rounded education, students must have more in their curriculum than math, reading, writing, history and science. This includes Christian and non-Christian studies alike.
School is important, but so is what happens after. Public schools generally offer more extracurriculars, but for what Christian schools lack in quantity they gain in quality. Children can have fun practicing and playing games in a safe, supportive environment.
As a bonus, many extracurricular activities in Christian schools are faith-based, meaning that they’ll pass on valuable life lessons to children while also developing their brains and bodies. Children might memorize scripture rather than storybooks, for example, or they might play cooperative rather than competitive games. Even basic things like “Bingo” can be given a Christian makeover with themes of Noah’s Ark or Jesus’s birth.
Physical activity is also encouraged in many Christian schools. Kids learn more and are more apt to stay with sports in their adult life if they can enjoy athletics while they are young. With sports and other team-based games and activities, Christian schools can be more well-rounded than a lot of public schools.
Other areas of focus include science, mathematics and the fine arts. These subjects can help children find their passion while becoming exposed to many different activities. If parents want to look for a school offers a certain activity, they start by to browse through this directory, then look at each individual school’s website. For college, examples of college student activities can be found at Huntington University’s site.
Many Christian schools have a chapel on campus. It can be a quiet space devoted to prayer or a busy, bustling meeting hall where activities are held and social connections are made.
Some Christians schools require “chapel hours” or “chapel credits” for their students. Depending on the school, chapel hours can be structured and supervised like a formal class, or they can be more of an elective or an extracurricular where students are encouraged to find their own meaning in their worship time.
If the school doesn’t have a chapel, it might offer use of a nearby chapel as part of a community program with local churches or other Christian groups. Many religious schools are actually part of robust social networks that span entire neighborhoods and cities, so students can take advantage of spiritual resources even outside of their classrooms.
Missionary work is devoted to spreading the word of God. It isn’t always overseas, but the promise of travel can be a big incentive to young people who are eager to see the world. K-12 students are more likely to complete missionary projects locally while college students have the option to go abroad for a summer or semester.
Many Christian schools have programs for missionary work. On the college level, they usually fulfill credits for subjects like intercultural ministry education. They might be called “mission trips” or “missionary activities.”
Mission trips can take many forms. They might be brief, two-week sojourns in a foreign country where Christians volunteer to make a positive impact on the local community. They can also be extensive, year-long affairs where Christians go to remote regions to build houses and churches while also infusing their faith into other needed areas such as healthcare and education.
Missionary work is usually optional except for specific degree programs devoted to training future missionaries. However, it can be a great benefit of enrolling your children in dedicated Christian schools rather than public ones. Joining mission-based student groups or fellowships can also be a boon to student resumes.
Volunteering is closely related to missionary work, but it can be a distinct activity, especially for K-12 students who are too young to go abroad.
Volunteering can take many forms, including fundraising, collecting food or clothing for a donation drive, or physically spending an afternoon at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Schools often coordinate with local charities to fulfill some kind of community need while also keeping things age-appropriate for their volunteers. For example, elementary schoolers might write letters to veterans while high schoolers might answer phones or do other administrative tasks at a charity organization. For older students, volunteer work can sometimes count as internships or extracurricular activities to put on college applications.
Christian schools offer many of the same volunteer opportunities as secular schools, but they can expand their catalogue to include faith-based opportunities as well. Students might have the chance to teach Bible classes, organize church events, or act as youth leaders at Christian summer camps. All of these experiences can be advantageous both personally and professionally.
Youth and Outreach Groups
One of the most important things for young Christians is an active and healthy network of peers, mentors, community leaders and others who inspire and challenge them in their faith. The good news is that Christian schools can offer these connections in abundance.
A common way for students to make friends is through youth groups. These might take the form of clubs, camps, choirs, ministries, study groups, church volunteers, mission fellowships and more.
Peer-to-peer support groups are also quite common in Christian schools. These usually pair older, more experienced students with younger ones to offer guidance and encouragement throughout their school days. Children can benefit from these groups twice over: once as a mentee and then again as a mentor.
Theology or Ministry Study
For students who dream of entering the ministry, there are a number of school programs dedicated to the education of tomorrow’s pastors, preachers, nuns, theologians, youth counselors and more. There are even specialized degrees like “Church Music Leader” for those who want to head Christian choirs and bands.
Degrees for future religious leaders can be found at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Common four-year degrees are a Bachelor of Religious Studies (B.R.S), a Bachelor of Arts in Theology, or a Bachelor of Divinity (B.Div). Common master’s degrees are a Master of Divinity (M.Div) or a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S). There are also a number of PhD programs for studies of ministry, theology, Biblical studies, Christian education, missionary work and more.
In addition to earning a relevant degree, future Christian leaders will also be expected to engage in events and activities associated with the church. These will develop leadership skills and bolster their academic studies with real-world, faith-centered experiences.
Miscellaneous Clubs, Sports and Activities
Christian schools don’t usually preach 24/7. They’ll offer regular, student-led activities such as sports teams, chess clubs, movie nights, social mixers and more.
The difference between secular schools and Christian schools is that Christian schools will offer these activities through a spiritual lens. Students will be encouraged to remember and represent God in all things, so even as they’re having fun with piano lessons or karaoke stages, they’ll keep their faith in mind.
Another potential advantage of Christian schools is that they often have stricter rules than public or non-religious schools. For example, a Christian college might ban alcohol or mixed-gender meetings within private dorms. This can bring a certain amount of peace of mind to parents while also removing the temptation of students to ask rashly while independent.
Last but certainly not least, worship services are a common feature in Christian schools of all grades and denominations. These activities are a chance for students to strengthen their faith while also connecting with their peers and developing a sense of service and devotion towards God.
Depending on the school, worship services can take the form of prayer meetings, chapel hours, holiday masses, Sunday schools and more. Some schools might require attendance for a set number of worship services per week; others might merely encourage the practice and offer the space for students to do so.
An increasing number of Christian schools are also offering online worship services for those who can’t attend in-person, so rather than going to a chapel, students can livesteam digital church events from home or the classroom.
What’s More Important?
In order to have a broad educational experience, children must have access to more than public schools can offer. They need a place where they can feel safe and have consistency, as well as have opportunities to be involved with religious activities, fine arts, and athletics. When it comes right down to it, environment and activities are equally important to help a child become well-rounded.
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