Grace and Truth
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 31 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Grace and Truth)
A WARNING TO THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
One of the most exciting movements in America today is that of the fundamental, Christian school. Scores of elementary schools and many high schools and yes, even colleges, are being started in America each year by fundamental churches. It must be noted that as soon as God starts something, the devil attacks it. just as God is life, Satan is the author of death, and just as death sets in on the human body at birth, so it does on the Christian school. It is the job of the administrators, teachers and supporting churches to postpone this death as long as possible and to use every force and power that we have to fight it off. It would be appropriate then for us to look at some danger points.
1. We must keep the school obligated to and dependent on the church. What happened to schools in America which were once great centers of fundamentalism but are now hotbeds of humanism and modernism? In many cases heavy endowment was a contributing factor. When a school is so heavily endowed and financed from without that it has no need of financial help from the church, then it can be independent of the church. It is healthy for the school to keep its very survival dependent on the church. As long as this is true, the church can dictate the policies and program of the school, and it has every right to do so since it is its founder and benefactor.
This is why the school should flee government support. The wise administrator, pastor and school board will see to it that the only organization whose financial support the school MUST have is the church, When such is not the case, a school can say to the church, "I have no need of thee," and death is inevitable if not imminent.
2. The church must not become obligated to and/or dependent on the school. Most of the Christian schools that are being built in America share church buildings with the Sunday school and other church organizations. The danger here is in the church incumbering an indebtedness which is largely repaid by the school. In such cases the school can pretty well control the church. Then the tail is wagging the dog, the employee becomes the boss, the dependent becomes independent, and the independent becomes dependent.
This leads to the church needing the school. In other words, if enough students are expelled or quit, the church and the school combined could not meet the budget for debt retirement. Actually, the student body then holds the destiny of both church and school. In case of a revolution, such a church-school would have one of two choices. Either appease the students or fail to meet its financial obligations. It is always wise for a school to arrange its finances so as that losing half the student body would not cause it to fold. Beloved, whoever pays the bills is the boss. Uncle Sam has taught us this. When a church builds a Christian school, the church should be the boss. If it retains this position, it must not only keep the school obligated to the church but it must keep the church from being obligated to the school.
3. The church must be the dominant force. The church is God's institution. A school built BY the church is good. A school built IN the church is better. This does not mean the school should or should not be conducted in the church buildings. It does mean that the control of the school should be in the hands of the church. Because of this, it would seem wise for the church board to be the school board. The Hyles-Anderson College, the Hammond Baptist High School and the Hammond Baptist Grade School are all governed by the deacon board of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. The 105 men on the deacon board are the school board. In some cases it may be better for the school board to be somewhat smaller than the church board, but in such cases the school board should be chosen from the church board or at least from spiritual members of the church. In such cases much care should be taken to keep the board large, for there is safety in numbers.
It is best that since the church board is the school board, the pastor then becomes the chairman of the school board. He should know everything that is going on. He should not be timid about making it plain that he is over the school administration and that the administration and faculty are responsible to the board through the pastor. The administration and faculty should be accountable to the pastor.
We must not lose sight of the fact that the building of the church is a dominant goal. The church is the daddy of the entire church program. When Daddy gets sick none of the bills are paid. A child may become ill, but Daddy can still pay the bills. The same is true in the church/school relationship. If the school becomes ill, "Daddy" can still keep things in order, but if the church is overlooked and becomes ill, everything will fall. The health of the entire family depends on the health of the breadwinner. The health of all the ministries of the church depends upon the health of the church itself.
4. The entire school family should promote the church program and should participate in it. The faculty and administration should be required to attend all the public services. They, like other members of the church, should hold church offices such as Sunday school teachers, bus workers, etc. Each faculty member and administrative officer should be required to be a regular soul winner. All Hyles-Anderson College faculty members and Hammond Baptist High School and Grade School faculty members must go soul winning weekly and turn in a report.
No school activity should be held on church nights. When the church is having public services, the school should not be in competition. Recently I was in a Bible conference in a certain church. The assistant pastor introduced me to his daughter before the service one evening. He said, "Dr. Hyles, I wanted you to meet her because she won't be in the service tonight. Our high school is having a basketball game and she is a cheerleader." Now here was a church having a Bible conference. The basketball players, the cheerleaders and many of the members attended a basketball game less than a block from where the Word of God was being taught and preached. This is a house divided against itself and it will fall.
A well-known Christian leader in America has said that the youth programs notoriously suffer in a church that has a Christian high school. This should not be true. A Christian high school should not and cannot take the place of the local church. It is a school, not a church. The school administration should promote church activities. just as the case would be if the students were in a public school, church should be the biggest thing in their lives. It is the more important of the two institutions and should have preference in scheduling.
To implement this, the Hammond Baptist High School has found it wise to have most of its activities during school hours. School athletic contests are conducted at 1:00 each Friday afternoon. This enables the entire student body to attend and helps prevent the death of the church youth program. We have found that by changing the lunch hour on Friday and by adding a few days to the school year we still have as much time in the classroom as we had. Therefore, the school, both in its studies and its extra-curricular activities, is a daytime organization, leaving the nights open for church activities and keeping the church where it should be-as the more important of the two organizations.
5. The Christian school should have only one basic premise-that of the Bible-teacher-student. This is not to say that visual aids, teaching helps, modern teaching methods, etc. are all bad. It is to say, however, that the right kind of teacher teaching the truth to the right kind of student is all that is absolutely essential. America has over-emphasized the importance of modern methods, modern curriculum, modern equipment and modern buildings. The greatest teaching ever done was done by the great Teacher
Who had as His classroom a hillside, a seashore or a field. His textbook was God's Word. His building had a floor of dirt, a ceiling of clouds and stars, walls of fresh air and was lighted by the sun and the moon. His desk was a tree stump or a boat. His equipment was composed of sticks, dirt, a lily and a bird.
The greatest nation this world has ever seen was built by people who were trained in little schoolhouses with kerosene lamps and lanterns and outdoor rest room facilities, but we had the right kind of teacher teaching the right kind of truth to the right kind of students. If we could have added nice buildings and new techniques to what we had, it would have been fine, but we have become dependent upon the new and with the improvement of the nonessentials we have seen a deterioration of the essentials. It is still true that the right kind of teacher teaching the truth to the right kind of student is basic enough to build the right kind of people who will, in turn, build the right kind of nation.
6. The school must not have bigness or planned growth as its main goal. While we should hope to reach all the students we can, this should not be done at the expense of financial soundness or the breaking down of standards. What we ARE must keep up with HOW BIG we are. In a school every bit of growth should be solid growth and we must remember that we are not a reformatory; we are a school!
It is also a dangerous thing for a school to borrow on projected growth. To incur indebtedness of this kind is like building a house upon the sand. The simple truth is that we may face persecution in this generation. If and when we do, it is entirely possible that the size of the school may diminish. Such could also be the case in the event of a depression or serious recession. Though a church and Sunday school should reach everyone it can, a school must be careful and selective in choosing its student body and should certainly not be obsessed with bigness. The school should grow, but that growth should be governed and dictated by its standards, positions and by financial soundness.
There is a danger in wanting to match the growth of others. There is a danger in wanting to be restrained by the growth of others. It is wise for a school not to be affected by the growth of others. The growth should be as fast as possible, but it should be a solid growth and one within financial sanity.
7. We should not be afraid of ridicule. Let the government schools call us bigoted. Let the natural man accuse us of being unscholarly. We should go about our business in the building of schools that are superior in every right way to the government schools and we should not have an ear to hear what the "spirit of disobedience saith to the churches (and the schools)."
This fear is often caused by too close association. When we become inclined and interwoven socially, scholastically or athletically we then find that often natural people have good personalities, are friendly, courteous and gracious. Learning to like them causes us to lose our hatred for the error which they embrace and also causes us to want their approval and sanction. It is always wise for the Christian to be courteous and kind to those that embrace the world system, but we should not become so closely associated with them, either individually or collectively, as to develop an inferiority complex or a relationship that would cause us to want their favor. God certainly had this and other things in mind when He gave us the doctrine of separation.
8. The Christian schools must reproduce themselves as soon as possible. The Christian school philosophy and the government school philosophy are complete opposites. Often the public school teacher who is a dedicated Christian is not oriented in the philosophy of the Christian school. Hence, the wise administrator will staff his school predominately with those either trained in the Christian school or who have been rooted and grounded in a strong, fundamental church which has enabled them to understand and embrace the philosophy of the Christian school movement.
We do not need to send our professors to study under Karl Barth in order for them to be scholarly, refined and cultured.
Let us not be deceived. The devil and his world system are launching and will launch every attack possible and are using and will use every weapon in Satan's arsenal in order to destroy the Christian school. Beloved, if we use the same methods, curriculum and philosophy that they use, we will arrive someday at the destination where they have already arrived. We are not going the same direction We are not in the same army, division, company, platoon or squad! Let us not be afraid to be different; neither let us stubbornly make difference our goal. Rather, let us wisely, carefully and spiritually chart our course according to the will of God, being willing to fight and die for the truth that we want to convey to our youth.
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