I'm not a missionary, in the narrow sense of the word. But it did get me thinking about ten things in the area where I have spent the last 35 years - at least as represented in my experiences.
1. Our student body is very diverse in the spiritual backgrounds of the students. For a number of our students, the only Christian teaching they receive is what they get at our Christian school. These students are not troublemakers or cause undue negative influence. But they are not from homes that place priority on Christian teaching and doctrine. This truly is its own mission field.
2. Christian schoolteachers deal with the same problems that are prevalent in society today. In recent months we've dealt with cutting, date rape, suicide, and a host of smaller problems. Our young people are as conflicted in many ways as the average teen, and we are in no way immune from the problems of today.
3. I have complete freedom to approach any work of literature, principle, or question asked by a young person, from a Biblical perspective. I don't have to "teach to a test." As long as the basic outlines of the coursework are covered, the administrator allows me the freedom to accomplish the goals as I desire.
4. A good Christian school has a strong academic program and is not content to settle for mediocrity in teaching. Teachers have to be creative, innovative, and know how to make do with fewer resources.
5. Most long-term teachers in Christian schools have some sort of break in housing or other expenses, a spouse or other family member with a good-paying job, or a second source of income. To pay teachers what they should be paid would price many students out of the opportunity.
6. Over the years, the trend has been that there are many more enrollees from single-child homes. Many families with multiple children homeschool.
7. I've also noticed in recent years that parents expect more perks than they used to. They also expect to be able to take their child out for vacations or other reasons, much more often. That used to be a rare thing. It's not any more. It's also a big headache to have students out for vacations. Some are good about catching up with their work--others are not. Either way, it increases the work.
8. A teacher in a Christian school needs to keep the perspective that even her students from Christian homes are from diverse backgrounds. Some parents, who love the Lord and desire to rear their children well, may have somewhat different theology than we do. But they are willing to abide by our rules and standards in order to get what we have to offer. I cannot approach class with my own Christian "lists" or jokes or preconceived notions. I have to be careful what I say about other denominations because one never knows what is in someone's background. There is no need to create unnecessary stumbling blocks, especially to fellow Christians.
9. A Christian school had better be savvy with media or it will slip in public opinion. Websites have to be up to date. Sometimes prospective parents will visit a website only - and if it is poor, they will leave the site within ten seconds - and not give the school a second look.
10. Teachers and staff must approach the Christian school situation as a specialized mission field. Who knows whom a teacher is influencing, and passing along the baton. It is as critical a ministry as any other.
Some thoughts on a rainy Friday morning!!