While families that homeschool their children can be a great blessing to a church and pastor (as I have experienced firsthand), many preachers find it difficult to assimilate them into their church. This is due to a variety of reasons, and even some misconceptions on the part of many pastors. Here are some thoughts that have helped us and that I hope will be a help to you:
Homeschool families are sometimes perceived as a threat to the church. Now, to be honest, this can occasionally be the case. Some parents (not all or even most) who choose to homeschool their children think that children should never be separated from their parents for Sunday school, nursery, youth activities, junior church, etc. These parents believe that any activities which “separate” the family such as camps, retreats, and youth activities are harmful and unscriptural.
Families who feel this way do not visit our church more than once or twice. Should they continue to attend, I let them know clearly in my preaching and in my personal conversation how we operate. I will not change our church to gain a family. I want to be a blessing to them, but if they are not interested in going the same direction as we are, they should find another church. Having said that, there are many fine people who choose to homeschool their children; who love God, know how to follow pastoral leadership, and would be a great blessing if we would treat them correctly.
Sometimes homeschool families are perceived as being in competition with the Christian school. This is simply not the case. Many years ago, one of our Christian school teachers was more than a little bit excited about some of the parents in our church who were teaching their children at home. “Pastor,” he said, “they’re not supporting us. They’re not being loyal to our school.” (See my response to this teacher below.)
Sometimes homeschooled children are perceived as being socially awkward with others in the church. On occasion, because they have not had interaction with other children, children who are being homeschooled can be a bit awkward in social situations.
- Children belong to God.
- God gives parents the authority and the responsibility to train them for Him.
- God gives churches the responsibility to assist parents in the training of their children. I said to the teacher referenced earlier, “My brother, God did not give those people children so that we could have more tuition. Parents are responsible to raise their children to serve God. We are here to help them. If we come to a point where our help is not wanted, we do not deserve to exist.”
Our church welcomes and accepts homeschooling familes. Because of the principles we believe, it would be wrong for us to criticize a parent for “not putting their children in our school.”
- We accept them. We acknowledge their right to homeschool their children and accept them as a significant and important part of our ministry.
- We help them. We allow homeschoolers to attend the chapel services in our Christian school if they wish. For a small fee, we allow them to participate in extra-curricular activities such as our plays, field trips, sports programs, Spirit Week and other special events. We assist them in getting textbooks and will, at their request, keep records of their students and count them to be enrolled in our school for legal purposes.
- We try to involve them. We want homeschool kids out soulwinning on Wednesdays after school just like the Christian school kids. We want homeschool kids to feel welcome at camps and activities just like Christian or public school kids. We want them to be serving in our bus ministry, visiting nursing homes and working in the ministries just like any other young person in our church.
- We have gained members because of the good reception homeschool families have found in our church. Some who were uncomfortable other places have become part of our church family.
- We gain the opportunity to influence young people. Teenagers who are homeschooled are excellent prospects for the ministry and future Christian service.
- We have gained students. On several occasions, families have been so positively impressed by our efforts to help them and so pleased with what they have seen when they have been in our Christian school that they have enrolled their children in our school.
One of the things I say often to our staff and think needs to be widely repeated to all of God’s children is that we should help people. There are many ways in which we can help and a few which, for practical or principled reasons, we cannot. When we can, let us be a blessing. Let us help people. Remember that when Peter was moved by the Spirit of God to summarize the life of our Saviour, he said, “…who went about doing good and healing…for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).