Perspective on an Assembly from a Parent and Board Member

The following is a guest post by Chuck Weinberg. He is one of our secondary parents and the chairman of our school board. He has agreed to offer his thoughts after our recent Christmas assembly. Enjoy.

It seems like it would be the farthest thing from my mind to be the chairman- “Cheer-man” of the board of a school. Of all the people who are possible candidates I see myself at the bottom of the list, but I guess God has a sense of humor.

With that role there are certain responsibilities and joys that come with the territory. Assemblies are one of those times.

The Christmas season brings lots of appointments on the calendar, lots of feasting, lots of gift giving and lots of events that can bring joy and sometimes sadness.

The Weinberg family has a unique place at ECS with John, our adopted son from China, learning English as a second language while learning Latin and logic, among many other things.

Recently we had the opportunity to go to the ECS Christmas Assembly and you never know what will come up in one of these kinds of events. To say that I am proud to be associated with the school is an understatement.

We arrived at the school and all the kids were lined up and excitedly ready to give us all the things they had been working on and learning. The material is probably way over the heads of the younger kids, just as “schoolhouse rock” didn’t make total sense until the day when, in school, I thought, “Oh yeah, I know what that means.”

The kids stood in a neat little row and as their turn came up they stepped forward and, often with excitement and some sheepishly, delivered the information they had been so studiously working on.

Invertebrates Sound-Off from Evangel Classical School on Vimeo.

John doesn’t participate in the “sound-off” portion of the program (which is for the elementary age kids) and so we, as a family, are not learning the parts of cells or all the forms of life along the way.

The program went by faster than the clock showed and to the kids I’m sure it was over before they knew it but the memory will last a long time.

I love that these kids get to stand up and speak in front of a “crowd” of people at such an early age. I can’t wait until the day when they are speaking to a room of 500 or 5000 and are so confident in their learning that it is a delight for them to share.

Today so many people have never had the opportunity to speak in front of a group and so they are afraid- not these kids. We are training future generations to be prepared for whatever life brings their way.

As a school and as parents our job is to train the next generation to be ready for what’s coming and to be sure there is much coming their way, but we pray and labor towards the day when these kids will be ready.

What a privilege to have the opportunity to be involved with the school at this time of its life. What a privilege to play a very small part in shaping future generations.

None of this could be done without huge sacrifices on the part of the teachers and staff of ECS. Being a pastor while learning and teaching Latin at the same time is not the norm, especially to 4-10 graders. Being a contractor and teaching art are not normally connected. Being a housewife and teaching other people’s kids math, music or reading is not what you normally see, but many are doing something abnormal today so that the outcome will be abnormally great in the future. Great things have small beginnings.

We would love to have all of you come to the next assembly. I am confident that you will be impressed with the work the kids are doing and be excited about what is happening in the lives of these future leaders.

Real Education for Christians

While we believe that the education our students are getting here at ECS is sound and good, and while we believe that it will only get better, they could technically learn much the same information somewhere else.

They could read Anne of Green Gables or the Odyssey somewhere else. Someone else can teach them how to write cursive or multiply and divide, or about the basic needs of all living things (a recent unit from Science class).

But I’ve been around enough schools to know that a good education is rare. In fact, most people can’t even agree on what a good education is. By a “good education,” I mean learning about how a Christian is to live in the world so as to maximize his influence and God’s glory. I’d love to flesh that out some other time, but today I want to briefly mention two threads that run through everything we’re trying to teach here at Evangel Classical School. I would hope that our students and families would recognize these things and notice when they come up over and over. First…

Our Testimony is Important

More and more of late I’ve been thinking about how the power of our testimonies.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus knew that the disciples were not going to save their unbelieving neighbors by their theological understanding or the strength of their conviction. If that were enough, then Jesus’ preaching by itself would have saved everyone who heard Him.

Our theological and academic knowledge are very important, but they are not the principle human instrument in anyone’s salvation. What do we have that the world wants? A life. Relationship. Love for each other.

We can spend our days and nights gaining more and more information, but if we do so without a love for each other, we’ll look just like the world. And why would the world want what we have when they already have it themselves? They wouldn’t.

At ECS we regularly pray and care about how our students treat each other. We are trying to equip them to be better worshipers than they are now by teaching them how to live as Christians.

This brings great glory to God and makes the world around us scratch its head in wonder.

The other lesson I will key in on is that The Dragon is for Fighting.

The Dragon is for Fighting

In Scripture, there is a dragon, and he’s there to fight. His name is Satan, and if we think we can avoid him, we’ve already lost the battle. But avoidance is the method we teach our Christian children more often than not.

Most education today does a poor job of preparing Christians for effective living as we combat the forces of darkness. This is not an all-inclusive claim, but the trends are very strong.

Public schools and secular private schools often teach ideologies and lessons intended to call into question the truths and principles of Scripture. That means that a lot of non-Christian schools teach unbiblical messages and unbiblical views of morality, history, science, etc. The world wants us to reject the claims of the Bible, and a lot of schools train students to do just that.

Many Christian schools teach a lot of the same material as their secular counterparts but with two distinct differences:
1. They integrate the Bible, including chapel programs and Bible classes.
2. They endeavor to protect students by insulating them from the evils of the secular world.

This second one gives birth to this parental mindset: “I chose this Christian school so my kid wouldn’t have to be bullied in the locker room like he was at his last school. I want my kid’s teachers to be saying the same things I am.” This is well-intentioned, but it is artificial and incomplete.

The thing is, someday our students are going to leave our halls and will inevitably face the evils of the world. What will they do then, when through their formative years they have been trained simply to avoid evil?

Imagine I were to drop my three-year old son in the deep end of a swimming pool and tell him to try to avoid the water. What would he do? Flail violently trying to get out, exhaust himself and succumb to the inevitable forces around him, sink and drown. But that’s exactly what the Church does today with its youth! We insulate them from evil (i.e. Keep them “dry”) through their formative years, then graduate them and throw them into the deep end and tell them to swim, when they’ve been taught all along to avoid the water.

Like water, evil inevitably surrounds us. We want to train our students to swim. Trying to avoid evil (and the dragon) is like trying to avoid water while in the pool.

Let me finish with another illustration. Many schools are like summer camp, where it’s pleasant, fun, and safe. We want ECS to be like boot camp (but more fun!) where we’re using real bullets and growing tight as as team and trying to equip our little soldiers for Christ about real life-and-death, good-and-evil battles.

Thankfully, in Christ we already have the victory, so we want to go forward joyfully with our spelling, our reading, our cursive writing, our Latin verb conjugation and our correcting of logical fallacies.

Every day our students are learning things that are of great value that will never show up on any standardized test. They are learning how to live like Christians in a dying world. That is what should make the world around us jealous, wanting desperately to enjoy the sort of love that we share.