The Myth of Evangelism In Public Schools

March 30, 2006 — 19 Comments

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In an older post of mine on the Public Schools, former homeschooler and a friend of mine, Amanda, posted an interesting comment worthy of consideration, thought, and a response.

“Personally, I am all for Public Schooling, and I fully plan on putting my children into public schools! (I bet you’re having a heart attack right now [I did in Tennessee--thanks Amanda...appreciated that. Lost some sleep over this one.] I went to public school for elementary and I would never change that–I loved it! I believe it really did help make me who I am. I had amazing teachers (many of whom were Christian ladies, just like many other schools across the country.) I also believe that the Public Schools area mission field. I regret not going to Public Schools because of that. I believe I missed a HUGE chance to witness to many of my teen peers. I think of being out in California again, when you saw that group of guys, one of whom was wearing a big hat. After talking to them you realized they were Christians [or new believers I might add]. I think the same thing could be very much applied to the Public Schools. You see a group of guys and you get to know them, then you throw out Jesus. There you go–pure witnessing at it’s best…among peers. Heck yes, it would be hard because people would think you were stupid and would hate you…but what about those few, that because you went to Public Schools, became Christians because of the example you set? Public Schools are our mission fields sitting right in our backyards!”


I’ll be honest–and nice. I’m afraid that Amanda is mistaken in numerous points of her argument above. The following examination is not an attack, but an exhortation to follow the Scripture and to do what God says–not the Public Schools, not the government, and certainly not me personally. I’m basing this on God’s word, quotes, facts, lists, and statistics.

By the end I hope you’ll at least send your children to Christian school.

I won’t go too deep into examining the first part of your comment, but I did notice you inserted that you had many teachers who were Christians “just like at many other schools across the country.” That’s a somewhat general statement, without a lot of backup evidence. But it may point to the fact that a Christian teacher can have a whole lot more impact on students that a Christian student can have among his or her peers.

It’s a myth to say that students are “missionaries” in public schools. Nowhere in Scripture does it point to teen missionaries–they were always adults.

You brought up the group of guys that I witnessed to out in California. Pretty good point–the only problem was that it was I, the homeschooler, who witnessed to those guys. I’m not bragging, just pointing out that we must remember who went up and talked to them. It wasn’t a public school student. I wonder why?

“Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals.”

Students may have good intentions, but being around bad character DOES corrupt good morals. It’s easier to pull someone into the swimming pool that it is to pull someone out. As I stated above, Scripture points to adult missionaries–hence Christian teachers, Christian board members, etc. Christian adults must be the missionaries in the Public School system.

You may still heartily disagree with me. So let’s move on to the 6 or more hours when you’re not “evangelizing.” Your curriculum.

It’s time for total immersion in the socialist and humanistic curriculum that you and your family is fighting and teaching against. It’s teaching your peers atheism–reversing whatever you share with them. And who is able to change that curriculum? Adults. Not you.

You must deal with all of this:

CHRISTIANITY vs. HUMANISM

Christianity: The Sovereignty of the triune God is the starting point, and this God speaks through His infallible word.

Humanism: The sovereignty of man and the state is the starting point, and it is the word of scientific, elite men, which we must heed.

Christianity: We must accept God as God. He alone is Lord.

Humanism: Man is his own god, choosing or determining for himself what constitutes good and evil.

Christianity: God’s Word and Person is Truth.

Humanism: Truth is pragmatic and existential: it is what we find works and is helpful to us.

Christianity: Education is into God’s truth in every realm.

Humanism: Education is the self-realization and self-development of the child.

Christianity: Education is discipline under a body of truth. This body of truth grows with much research and study, but truth is objective and God-given. We begin by pre-supposing God and His Word.

Humanism: Education is freedom from restraint and from any idea of truth outside us. We are the standard, not something outside us.

Christianity: Godly standards grade us. We must measure up to them. The teacher grades the pupil.

Humanism: The school and the world must measure up to the pupil’s needs. The pupil grades the teacher.

Christianity: Man’s will, and the child’s will, must be broken by God’s purpose. Man must be remade, reborn by God’s grace.

Humanism: Society must be broken and remade to man’s will, and the child’s will is sacred.

Christianity: Man’s problem is sin. Man must be recreated by God.

Humanism: Man’s problem is society. Society must be recreated by man.

Christianity: The family is God’s basic institution.

Humanism: The family is obsolete. The individual or the state is basic.

Talk about heresy alert.

“I am afraid,” said Martin Luther, “That the schools will prove [to be] the very gates of hell unless they diligent ally labor in the explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of our youth.”

It’s kind of hard to compete between 40 hours or so of humanistic teaching versus two hours at church. Who’s going to win the battle of the mind? Even those who seem firm in their faith are at huge risk. No matter what, they will come out tainted by the teachings. Anyone can be convinced a lie is truth if the lie is told enough times.

And that’s not all–if you send you kids to school they encounter drugs, violence, tolerance, possible abuse, sexual promiscuity, evolution, no absolute values, and the degrading of Christianity, which you teach them at home and at church.

Who to believe? You or the School System?


The Bible instructs us to teach the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Would that not include education? A Christian worldview in everything that we encounter? We are told by God to provide our [present or future, depending on your age] children with an education based on His principles. Justifying attendance of public schools by saying your kids are “missionaries” doesn’t cut it. We can’t justify disobedience to God.

If that’s not enough for you, I have more: the list of famous people who were home schooled. Just think–you child could be added to this list:

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, John Tyler, William Henry Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Rev. John Witherspoon, Benjamin Franklin, William Samuel Johnson, George Clymer, Charles Pinckney III, John Francis Mercer, George Wythe, William Blount, John Rutledge, William Livingston, Richard Basset, William Houston, William Few, George Madison, Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Florence Nightingale, Phyllis Wheatley, Patrick Henry, John Jay, John Marshall, Timothy Dwight, John and Charles Wesley, William Carey, Dwight L. Moody, Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, Booker T. Washington, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, Pearl S. Buck, George Bernard Shaw, Irving Berlin, Ansel Adams, John Singleton Copley, Rembrandt Peale, Blaise Pascal, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, John Owen, Charles Louis Montesquieu, William the Silent (Prince of Orange), John Newton, and more.

That’s quite a list…and quite some men and women. Wouldn’t you think their education had something to do with what kind of people they became?

Also, I’ll add to that the popular “15 Reasons to Home school During the Teen Years.”

1. You get to see the completion of your efforts. Something is lost when you turn over your discipline to others.

2. You can customize your children’s education to provide motivation for their gifts and abilities. No one else will be able to provide the consistent and loving support that you can in weak areas.

3. You can direct them to early college entrance. Even public high schools realize many students are ready for college level courses and have cooperative programs with junior colleges.

4. You can continue the family building process. The teen years continue to be impressionable and formative. This is an invaluable time to cement family relationships.

5. You can be sure that your teens are learning, if they are at home. Studies have revealed that public high school students average 2 hours and 13 minutes of academic work a day.

6. You can continue to have influence over their peer relationships.
Teen rebellion is not in God’s plan for the family, but it is the humanist agenda for the public schools.

7. You can protect them from pressure to conform to what the other kids are doing. This pressure is so strong in the public high school. You won’t need to spend time de-programming.

8. If you send your teens to high school, there will be a diversion
away from the academic focus, as well as spiritual priorities. Be aware of the many distractions that won’t parallel the home life you have maintained.

9. Your young people will be thrown into things like boy/girl preoccupation, focus on clothes, and pressure to conform in
appearance and music.

10. Vast amounts of time separated from the family will affect their relationship with you. We have all put great amounts of our heart and time into our home-schooling years, and we want those efforts preserved.

11. Home school is the best preparation for college studies. The home education “style” is closer to college-type instruction.

12. There is greater flexibility for work/study opportunities.

13. The institutional method of public education is designed around “crowd control” not learning. If and when they learn, it will be a by-product of other priorities to maintain classroom order.

14. Home educators have the best available curriculum and greater selection. Public schools offer revisionist history and science that promotes their humanist perspective. The godly commitment of many great Americans has been deleted from public textbooks.

15. Age/grade isolation or segregation inhibits socialization. Public school children are behind their home school counterparts in maturity, socialization and vocabulary development, as demonstrated by available research.

I think this says a lot–and I pray that you reconsider. I really do. I would recommend visiting the library or bookstore and checking out “The Right Choice: Homeschooling” by Christopher Klicka. Read some of what is written there. You’ll have a hard time saying “no” to a Christian education.

Now quickly, I want to really thank you for your comment. I used to really believe exactly what you said–and sometimes I wished I could evangelize (easier said than done!). But a closer examination of academics, moral issues, and the pros and cons led me to take a stand for Christian Education.

I believe you have not missed out on anything–you’ve gotten a head start. You are more prepared to share the gospel in the REAL world. You still have that huge opportunity in front of you and I urge you to take it.

Now, to end I wish to address those of you who are rolling on the ground moaning at what I’ve said. “Spitting out indoctrination…gag…” Actually, all of this came from what I’ve thought about the subject. I researched it, and came to my own conclusion on the topic. I believe it is God’s conclusion.

I have friends in Public Schools because they have to be there for a number of reasons–and what I’m saying here is hard to say. But it needs to be said. If you’re there–witness, evangelize…do whatever you can. But for those of you who think you’ve missed out by being homeschooled–you haven’t. You are not missing out.

Addition: I believe I’ll add a quote from the Rebelution:

“I readily agree that there are many good teachers, students, and experiences within the public school system. I know that many young people have graduate from public high school much the better for it. Yet that does not justify the system.

I would encourage you to read “The Harsh Truth About Public Schools” by Bruce N. Shortt. In it he exposes many of the inherent dangers of public schools that you and I can’t see because of our limited view of the overall system.

Please understand that [Agent Tim Online] holds no negative views towards public schoolers, public school teachers, etc. But rather towards the system itself. These views are the result of a more thorough knowledge of the inherent evils of the system and the agendas being perpetuated regardless of the convictions of teachers, students, etc.”

*Christianity vs. Humanism, Martin Luther quote, and “Homeschooling Hall of Fame”, all from “The Right Choice: Homeschooling” by Christopher Klicka.
*15 Reasons to Home school During the Teen Years is by Elizabeth Smith, HSLDA.

Tim Sweetman

Posts

Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

19 responses to The Myth of Evangelism In Public Schools

  1. Amanda,

    Let me describe the spiritual condition of the public schools in PA: if you are a Christian teacher, you are sued, harassed, or punished for expressing any part of your faith during or outside of school time. If there are Christians in Western PA schools, and are somehow going through, they aren’t being the witness they should be.

    The Christians in the schools struggle with maintaining Christian virtues and separation. They have just as much an inclination toward drugs, partying, etc. as a non-Christian student. The only student in the public schools up here that I know is not having this problem was homeschooled up until this school year.

    It’s devoid of God in all aspects. “Christian” clubs exist throughout but very few of them feature anyone willing to take a strong stand for God. After all, it’s accept or be persecuted.

    David Ketter

  2. Dear Tim:

    Very good post, at first i was like “what is he saying!” then you closed out the post very well.
    In the beginning you made it seem that public school was totally evil, and homeschool was the ultimate good. I was a homeschooler up till 8th grade, then my mom sent me to Highschool cause she wasnt all that good at math and wanted me to learn it, haha. Thank God, i was saved in the end of 6th grade, because If i wasent a real christian when i went to public school, i woulda been one bad apple. But on the other hand, what it God haden’t saved me and I was homeschooled through highschool. I would be a pharasee, knowing the bible in and out, but not really understanding the love of Christ, or my sin.

    it can go both ways. First hand, i was a homeschooler, but now im a public schoolee (senior), and i notice that the homeschooled kids at my church are sheltered. Actually, all the real homeschooled kids ive met were sheltered. No real conception of what life is like outside of their home/life. Protecting ones children is good, not letting them see the light outside is a bit much :). I agree with like everything you said, but unless God saves your children, homeshcooling your kids wont help a bit. But yes, teaching the Bible at homeschool is sure to help.

    God has used public school in my life for good. hes used me there, saved two of my now best friends. I also lead/organize a campus biblestudy, if it wasent for that i would be homeschooled.

    wow this comment isnt very well put togther, im kinda tired. I hope you get what im saying :)

    God bless

  3. Hey Timbo

    Honestly, I think if there’s any way to be, like, neutral in this argument, that’s where I am. As you know, I am a public schooler, and a former homescooler. Thusly, I can understand where both you and Amanda are coming from. However, you said that no where in the Bible is there mentioned a teen missionary. What about Timothy? He was roughly fourteen when he started working with Paul. And lots of top Christian scholars believe that Jesus’ twelve disciples may have been about 17 or 18 when they started with him. Just a curious little thing to add, I thought.

  4. Walker,
    But using public school as a grounds for “getting the kids into the real world” shouldn’t be justification. Oh! I know! Let’s send the kids into the world with wolves, when they’re young, so they “won’t be sheltered”.

    We need to stop and think about this. Do we really want our kids, (again, present or future, depending on age) to be experiencing this? You don’t have to see the bad, to know the good. The “sheltered” homeschool student, is a stereotype that many people use to justify public schools. Unfortunately, to some extent, Christians have lived up to that. But regardless, that’s not justification for send the kids out into the world.

    On top of that, looking at the list that Tim gave, we can see that this isn’t always the case. Every one of the people he listed changed the world in some way. You can’t change the world if you have no grip on the world.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. There is something to be said for knowledge of what the world is like. But the best way to teach your kids isn’t to give your authority for instruction over to the government and say, “Here, you teach them what you think is best.” Unfortunately, many homeschoolers are too sheltered. But that’s because they develop such an aversion to sin, and in my opinion a pride that they aren’t like that, and they won’t go into the world, at all, because there’s bad things in it. We don’t want to be “sheltered” (in that sense), but “protected”.

    On top of what Tim said, the Bible tells the parents to teach the kids. It says to teach them, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

    I can’t think of a time frame that doesn’t cover. But aside from that, the Bible teaches the that the parents are supposed to teach.

    “But my parents are smart enough!” (

  5. Hey, if you’re concerned about the kids getting a test of the real world, why are you putting them in public school? That’s certianly not the real world!

  6. This is a bit off-topic, but I’ve always been curious: Why do evangelical Christians reject the idea of “tolerance”?

  7. marshall,

    I totally understand what you mean, my comment wasent very well written, and i knew it was going to be misread, i should have crafted it better. its all dependent on God and the parents with how a child is raised. A parent can send a kid to public school ans still ‘train the child in the way he should go’. same with homeschool. what i ment to say is that Homeschoolers can be extra vurnerable, atleast it seems that way.

    andrew,
    I dont know actually. But i know alot of the things that the world asks us to ‘tolerate’ are wrong. Tolerate homosexuality, tolerate sex outside of wedlock, tolerate pagan religions… you see what i mean? mabey thats why? im not sure.

  8. Like my friend Hannah says, “Homeschoolers aren’t the aliens; they are the intelligent life!!” Great post Tim!

  9. Hey Tim! I really enjoy reading your blog! You have a lot of insight! I do think that the public school corrupts. But also, it ins’t always quite so godless in its teachings. I’m in Oklahoma (Bible belt) and while the students were extremely terrible, the teachers taught some Christian views, although they were definitely up to the standard they should have been. I’m going to home school my kids. I think it will be best!

    Also, I love C.S. Lewis! I’ve been reading his autobiography “Surprised by Joy” lately and I saw that he is on your list of home schooled people, but he wasn’t! He went to several different boarding schools. Just to let you know!

    Great article, Tim!

  10. An additional question about homeschooling: what if the parents are unable to homeschool, because they themselves did not receive enough education? Also: there might be other valid reasons why a parent cannot homeschool there children: time involved, other ‘special needs’ siblings, etc. What to say to these parents who are then ‘forced’ to put their kids in public school?

  11. Having said the above, the stats show that homeschooled children score higher and learn more than the average public school child (see a.o. http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/hslda/200105070.asp or http://www.oakmeadow.com/resources/articles/WSJArticle.htm). This is interesting, because when homeschooling was made legal in the States, the government was worried that the homeschoolers would not have the same level of education as the public schoolers. Now they are afraid that if parents take their kids out of school to homeschool them, the level of the public schools will go down… Quite a change over 20 years!

  12. I agree and disagree with some of your points in this post.Personally,I want to homeschool my kids when I get married.I agree with your points on teh avantage of it and why we should do it.
    But it also seems like you are making the public schoolers look bad.I`ve been public schooled my whole life.Part of it because private school was too costly and because both of my parents work.I do agree that being homeschooled is way better.I myself wish I was homeschooled.But that doesn`t mean I can`t do certain things or that I`m not as spiritualy mature as homeschoolers.
    I gave my life to the LORD when I was in 7th grade.Now I am going into 11th grade and I am totally on fire for God.There are times when the classes I am in anger me to the point of making me very because of the immorality and the denying of God.But I do get many chances to witness and I do.Sometimes infront of whole classes. Till now I know it has been God that keeped people from denying me that opportunity.I am a missionary to those kids.Sometimes I am the only Christian making a stand for the Truth.And yes it is very hard most of the time.It`s extremly hard to make friends.Being this different doesn`t come with a price.But I know my life makes a difference.And maybe this is where God has placed me.
    Yes,I do agree that it is harder for christian teens to be strong in their faith while attending public schooles.But it can be done,I`m a living testimony of that.I`m not boasting to myself but to God.He has done this! Yes,its hard and lonely sometimes.Yes,you are persecuted for standing up for the truth,but Jesus said we would.I`m all for being homeschooled.I think its the way to go.But public schoolers shouldn`t be looked down on.

  13. This is the first time I have visited your website. Shortly before reading this article I was thinking about my purpose in public school. I was wondering, am I being a light for Jesus in my highschool? Is it worth being there? Would it be better to be homeschooled? You see I have been both homeschooled and sent to a private, Christian school. Now for my highschool years (now a sophomore) I have been in public school. I loved to be homeschooled. I was able to focus on my spiritual walk. I was not distracted by trends. I appreciated your article. It made me realize that although potentially I could help change a life in my school, is it not better to prepare myself now to be able to be a more successful evangelist in the years to come? I completely agree with you on the fact that the humanistic thinking of public school is very confusing. It is hard to center on God, when everyone around you is self-centered. It is a great struggle to stay strong in public school and not to be sucked into the thinking of this world. It is hard not to be vain and concerned about physical appearance, when peers are telling you you have to be beautiful. Personally I think you are better off in a private, Christian school or being homeschooled than you would be in public schools. The public schools deteriate you. They hurt you far more than you help others in it. I just want to encourage homeschoolers to treasure their Christian education and to stay put. It is so much better there than in the world. Everyday in classes (esp. science) you faith and beliefs are torn apart. They make you question the fact as to whether you are right or not. This obviously is going to happen when you are grown up and in the “real” world. You could agrue that this is good preparation, but now is the time you need to build up confidense and learn more about God, not have what you do believe in destroyed. Thank you for the good article. Keep up the good work. :)

  14. Quick side comments –
    “It’s a myth to say that students are ‘missionaries’ in public schools. Nowhere in Scripture does it point to teen missionaries–they were always adults.”

    The first person who lept to mind was Jeremiah, and the second was Timothy, as has already been pointed out. I am personally for homeschooling, and plan on homeschooling my children when I have them eventually — but I know people who really are using their schools as mission fields. You do have some good points, but I’m not sure that one little comment was called for. ;)

  15. As usual, there are exceptions to the rule.

  16. What is your advice to a teenager who would like to homeschool, but can’t, because both of their parents work? Also, what is your opinion on Private Christian schools?

  17. Hello Tim,

    I work with your Aunt Lisa and she showed me your blog. I have to say I value your opinion deeply.

    However.

    Not all people have access to Home Schooling. It’s rather expensive. I also noticed that alot of homeschooled kids are sheltered and miss out on doing alot of things, like going to the beach or doing what I consider “normal”.

    And I have attended public shooling all my life and I don’t think I ended up as corrupt. There are good people and bad people. But if you have a legitimate sense of right and wrong then you shouldn’t be easily swayed to try drugs or alcohol or any of that stuff. I also have a best friend who is a devout christian and attends public school. As I see it, if you truly hold dear to your beliefs, then you shouldn’t have a problem. And this isn’t only in public schooling where you encounter this kind of behavior. It’s everywhere, not just schooling. What happens when you finish home schooling? Where do you go after that? After college?

    I think to truly understand the rest of the world and how we interact, you need to see it. Not just take first hand accounts from books. See it yourself and then form your opinion, don’t count on an author’s perspective for everything.

    I respect your views and opinions. Hope to see more.

    ~John

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Agent Tim Online :: Culture And Theology--Hand In Hand - April 27, 2006

    [...] Most of my readers are aware of my views on the public schools, especially concerning being “salt and light” as well as missionaries in the public schools. The entire system has a base rotten to the core. [...]

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