Does Homeschooling Deny the Missional Life?

Last week, Scot McKnight reposted some of Tony Jones’s thoughts on homeschooling and being missional on his blog. Tony believes homeschooling denies the missional life. Here’s what he had to say:

But it seems to me that if I am truly committed to living a missional life, then I must enroll my kids in the public school. That is, I am committed to living a life fully invested in what I might call the “Jesus Ethic” or the “Kingdom of God Ethic,” and also fully invested in the society — in fact, you might say that I live according to the Kingdom of God for the sake of society….

Similarly, formal education was formerly for the societal elite. But in a democracy, education is for all, with the understanding that the more educated we all become, the more humane we will be toward one another (this, of course, is open to debate).

So it seems to me that to withdraw my children from public education is to not play my (God-given) role as a missional member of society — like I can’t just choose to withhold my taxes. We give our children all those vaccinations when they’re young not necessarily to protect themfrom polio (since the chances of any one of my children getting it is exceedingly small) but because we live in a society, and part of the contract within the society is that we will never again let polio gain a foothold.

So I can’t think, “I’ll just pull my kids out of the public schools — what difference will one less follower of Jesus make in a school full of hundreds of kids?” I don’t, as a Christian, have the option to “opt out” of the societal contractInstead, I live under a mandate to be the most involved, missional societal participant that I can be.

Let me start off by saying, whatever you choose to do for schooling for your kids is completely your decision. I personally don’t think a family should put their kids in a Christian school, a charter school, a public school or homeschool them. I think each parent needs to make that choice, and it may even be different for different kids in your family. I knew a family that had 3 kids, one was home schooled, one was in a public school and the other was in a private school as it was the best for each child.

Here’s why I’m posting about this and why I took offense to it. We homeschool our kids. We made that choice after having our oldest in school for a quarter and saw what it did to our schedule, especially since I work on the weekend. We lost too much of our family time because of my work schedule. We’ve made the decision to evaluate each year what is best for our kids and our family and right now this is what is best for us.

Tony is right on one hand because many families homeschool their children to protect them from the world. I don’t think this is a good idea. At some point they will encounter the world around them. But to say that it denies the missional life it to say that every Christian who has their child in a public school is living on mission. If that were the case, our schools would be drastically different.

Living on mission and homeschooling simply means you have to be more intentional about how you life on mission, how you bring the culture into the life of your kids. You have to think through it.

Here are some things we do:

  • Our kids go to school 3 days a week for specials: gym, art and music. This helps them to meet other kids, be in a school, it allows us to meet the teachers and build a relationship with them.
  • Be outside. People walk around neighborhoods, they work in their yards, on their cars. Play out front instead of in the back. People walk around our neighborhood around 6pm, so we try to play out front then.
  • Invite your neighbors over, get to know them. Football started this week and that is an easy invite to a neighbor.
  • Get involved in the school. You can volunteer at the school, be a part of fairs or carnivals the school puts on that are open to the public.
  • Ask the principal how you could serve at the school and then follow through.

[Image Credit]

Thoughts on Turning 32

Today I turn 32, hard to believe. I thought I’d share a few things that God has blessed me with right now as I turn 32 (in no particular order):

  • I am more in love with Katie than ever before.
  • Our marriage is stronger than ever.
  • Our kids are healthy.
  • I love being a dad.
  • All of my kids crack me up in completely different ways.
  • I have known Katie for half my life.
  • I love that we homeschool Ava, one of the best choices we’ve ever made.
  • Revolution is stronger than ever before.
  • Our leadership team is stronger and healthier than we’ve ever been.
  • God has protected our church from a lot of the pitfalls that hit most church plants.
  • I got to preach through one of my favorite books this past year at Revolution, the book of James and in 2012 it looks like I will get to preach through one of my other favorite books of the Bible, Romans.
  • I am in the best shape of my life, hard to believe. Here is my journey on that.
  • God has continued to bless our church with lots of growth, people finding Jesus, getting baptized, growing in their faith, getting out of debt, marriages being saved. Love being a part of it.
  • Katie got me man flowers the other day for my birthday, awesome.
  • God is working behind the scenes of Revolution right now to prepare us for some big things, stay tuned for those details.
  • Our adoption is getting closer and closer to completion.
  • I’m working on a book proposal. I’ve started several, praying I finish this one as I think it will challenge and bless a lot of people.
  • We are having a bunch of friends over tonight to grill out and celebrate, love being around our community.
  • The future for our family and our church looks great.
  • I get to preach tomorrow night, which is one of my favorite things to do.
  • I have more books that I want to read than I have time for.

Favorite Posts of 2010

In case you missed them this year, here are the top posts for 2010:

  1. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
  2. Radicalis Notes
  3. Being a Pastor’s Wife
  4. How a Wife Handles Her Husband’s Sexual Addiction
  5. Thoughts on Burnout, Sleep, Adrenalin, Stress, Sex and Eating
  6. Don’t Malign Your Spouse
  7. Someone Pays the Price
  8. The Role of Men in the Family
  9. Why We’re Homeschooling
  10. Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Shirtless Guy

Top Books of 2010

Along with music, books is my other love that I don’t have enough money to give to. What makes this list different is that the book doesn’t have to be released in the year of 2010, I just read it in 2010. It was cool putting this list together because it was a great reminder of the things I learned this year through the books I read. It was also cool seeing that I hit my goal of reading 30 books this year. I think I’m going to bump that up to 50 in 2011.

Here are my top 10 books for this year:

  1. You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for our Sinful Behaviors and Negative Emotions by Tim Chester. This was easily the best book I read all year. It speaks to how to break free from sin, additions, sinful thoughts, habits, the broken places in our lives. The one line that rings over and over in my head from this book is, “Everytime you sin, you are believing a lie.” You can read my review here.
  2. Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches by Russell Moore. As many of you know, we are adopting. This was the first book we read after making that decision and it clearly lays out the doctrine of adoption and how that should be lived out by followers of Jesus. Adoption is not something that is optional for followers of Jesus, all of us are called to play some kind of part in it (James 1:27). Can’t recommend this book high enough. You can read my review here.
  3. Gospel Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting by William Farley. I did a parenting series this past year at Revolution and this was one of the books I read for it. So many great and practical parenting things in here, but it is also about the why behind parenting. Too many books focus on how to parent, which is good to a degree, but this gets into the why and what the gospel has to do with parenting. If you aren’t shaping your parenting and children with the gospel, how will the gospel infiltrate your family? You can read my review here.
  4. Total Church by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis. This book was recommended to me by Jeff Vanderstelt when I met with him to talk about leadership, gospel and missional communities. It has given us at Revolution a clearer picture of what the next level/step for us as a church is. Marrying together gospel & community. If you’re curious about what 2011 and beyond will look at Revolution, this is a book worth checking out. You can read my review here.
  5. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. This book was incredibly stretching and came at the right time as we were thinking through the adoption and how to move forward. Too many Christians are trying to mix the American dream with Jesus, and it doesn’t fit. It leads to what everyone else has, and what everyone else has, Jesus doesn’t give you, He gives you life. This book could easily be #1 on this list. You can read my review here.
  6. The Painful Side of Leadership: Moving Forward Even When it Hurts by Jeff Iorg. If you have been a leader for longer than 5 minutes, you know leadership can hurt, especially if you lead in a church setting. I highlighted this book more than any other book this year. So many times I could think of situations in my life as a pastor that this book spoke to. If you are a leader you need to read this book. You can read my review here.
  7. Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne. This book has done a lot to shape how we do teams and think about leadership at Revolution. Really helpful book on teams and leadership. You can read my review here.
  8. Family Driven Faith: Doing what it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters who Walk with God by Voddie Baucham. This book was another book I read for the parenting series I did in the summer. Unlike other books that talk about passing on your faith, this one gets right into the family, where it should be. I was challenged by this book and after Katie and I read it, we really took a hard look at how we are raising our kids and passing on our faith. This was also the book that really pushed school at home to the forefront of our minds (which we now do and love). You can read more about that here. You can read my review here.
  9. What He Must Be…To Marry my Daughter by Voddie Baucham. If you want a book on what a man of God looks like, how to raise a son that is worth following or worth marrying, or how to teach your daughter what kind of man she should look for, this is the book. This is easily the best book I’ve read on what a man is. You can read my review here.
  10. Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln by James C. Humes. This is a great preaching book, even though it doesn’t set out to be a preaching book. Humes looks at great speakers and leaders throughout history to see what communicators can learn from the. Highly recommended if you speak in front of groups on a regular basis. You can read my review here.

Honorable mention reviews:  Deep Church, Sun Stand Still, Leaders Who Last, and Soccernomics.

If you’re curious about what my favorite books of 2009 were, you can see that list here.

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Unbelievable night
  • Tonight was one of those nights where everything came together, God showed up and did some great things
  • Tonight I preached on 2 Timothy 3:10 – 4:5
  • It was all about the bible, how we got it, the point of it, why it matters, what makes it different from other religious texts
  • Loved the conversations afterwards
  • All week I prayed that God would put a passion in our church to know the Scriptures, to want to study them
  • Love the flow of the passage tonight:  after Paul tells Timothy to know the scriptures and why he should know them, the point of them and what they do, he then says “So you can be equipped for every good work”
  • I wonder if God doesn’t use us because he knows we aren’t ready for it, we aren’t equipped yet
  • If you are interested, here is a list of articles and books to check out on how the bible was put together, what it means that it was inspired by God, etc.
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • Have a crazy week this week, would appreciate your prayers
  • Should be fun speaking at MOPS, I’ve never been so I’m not sure what to expect
  • I shared this week that Katie and I have decided to homeschool
  • If you are curious, here is why
  • I didn’t get into it tonight, because it didn’t fit my topic, but when it comes to discerning heresies in our culture, this is a big one in the church right now
  • Crazy to me how many Christians have bought into this book so blindly
  • I’m beat and I’m going to eat some food and watch the U of A game
  • Don’t miss next week as we wrap up our Ultimate Fighter series
  • And be thinking about who you are going to bring on October 2nd
  • Let’s pack it out

Why We’re Homeschooling

I’ve gotten some questions on our decision to homeschool, so I thought I’d share why we’re doing it as a family and why I don’t think everyone should do it. As with our adoption, everyone has an opinion on homeschooling and they are passionate about it.

This past summer, I did a parenting series at Revolution and for that series I read Gospel Powered Parenting, Revolutionary Parenting, and Family Driven Faith. Through those books and that series, God really worked on mine and Katie’s heart as we thought about parenting, our family, how we raised our kids, how we pass on our faith and how we keep our family on track spiritually.

When Ava started kindergarten, it was a hard adjustment for our family schedule wise. My day on Saturday begins around 10am and I don’t get home from church until 8pm. So I started to see that one day out of the weekend was almost shot for family time. Sunday morning is a hard morning for me because of preaching and ministering to people.

For Katie and I, the idea of being this involved in our kids education and being able to teach them is awesome. Katie was valedictorian in high school and incredibly smart and as we talked more and more about this, the more and more she (and I) got excited about it.

Now, I realize that there are pastors who preach more than I do who don’t homeschool. I also know that lots of families raise their kids to follow Jesus by having them in public school. My opinion has always been I don’t think every Christian should homeschool, I don’t even think every pastor should homeschool. I don’t think this is the only or even best way for every family to educate their kids or pass on their faith. Katie and I attended public and Christian schools our whole lives and we turned out pretty well education wise and faith wise. In fact, you will have to ask my opinion on schooling for me to tell you what I think.

This is just what we have decided is the best thing for our family right now.

As I thought about our kids growing older, more and more activities, adding kids through adoption, I started to wonder how to handle it with our schedule. After talking with some mentors, Katie and I praying about for a few months, we landed on this. I love the idea that Sunday and Monday will actually be a weekend for our family with no school (school will be Tuesday – Saturday).

It was awesome today going through the boxes of curriculum with Ava and Gavin. They were so excited about it. So, I’m excited about this next step for our family.