We run schools first to extend God’s Kingdom here on earth. 

Matthew 6:10

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name on earth as it is in heaven, your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV)

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

The Christian school is one that:

  • intends for its children to bring God’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” (the Christian School Management motto).
  • creates its mission carefully and delivers it with excellence.
  • recognizes Jesus as the Master Teacher.

In its simplest terms, the Kingdom Principle states that God gives us good work to do right here and now and that this is bringing the Kingdom closer. This work is not menial, nor does it merely fill in time until we go to be with the Father. Rather, God intends for us to do his will on earth which has intentional rich possibilities and potentials for each child in our schools. It is amazing because we are asked to do what Jesus asked his disciples to do: “The kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28 cf. Luke 9:2). 

In a Christian school, the Kingdom Principle is made concrete through the mission of the school. God’s holiness, God’s kingdom, God’s will, are made manifest in the Christian school through its mission. Don’t be overwhelmed; the Christian school’s role is to carry out its mission – and that is enough. The Christian school should not harbor ambitions that make the mission too bold. The mission should have authority, and it should be humble. The mission articulates clearly the purpose of the school, and the purpose must be limited because we have limited money, people, facilities, land, children. We cannot do everything, and we are not called to do everything. We are called as a Christian school to do our mission. This is our “on earth as it is in heaven”. 

Consider these slightly edited examples from real schools:

  1. The mission of XXXX Day School is to assist the Christian family by providing an education marked by a biblical worldview and academic excellence so that students are equipped to be salt and light for God’s glory.
  2. XXXXXX Academy empowers students for leadership and service in our global society.
  3. Within an atmosphere of love, concern, and mutual respect, XXXXXXX Preparatory School is committed to instilling Christian values, to developing future leaders, and to preparing students for college and lifetime learning through academically challenging programs and affirming competitive experiences.
  4. XXXXXXXXX School develops in students a love of learning, respect for self and others, faith in God, and a sense of service to the world community.
  5. The purpose of XXXX School is to enlighten the understanding, shape the character, form the habits of discipline, and prepare young men and women to fulfill their God-given potential.

We note here that CSM does not judge the mission of a school. We recognize it as the human attempt of each school to bring God’s kingdom into the lives of children here on earth, we respect it as such, and our job is to hold the school accountable to its mission excellence. 

We can see that these missions are very different from one another. Based on the school’s founding history, its journey to this point, the challenges it sees and wishes to address, the children it wishes to serve, and its resources, the Christian school makes – and must make – a determination about its mission by both being bold and far-seeing in its vision as well as humble and limited in its reach. 

It’s hard to imagine the Christian school committing to a standard of mediocrity. But we have to understand that truly doing our mission at a standard of excellence comes with significant investment/cost. Let’s consider that by turning parts of the above mission statements into questions with possible partial answers suggested.

  • How do we invest in “academic excellence”? For example, our children work hard in class and devote hours to further study; our teachers provide engaging, faith-filled, relevant, practical, meaningful lessons – the work of a lifetime of application and study; our buildings nurture the mind in a healthy environment conducive to imaginative and creative study. 
  • What is the investment in “empowering students for leadership and service”? For example, it is clear that leadership is not easily learned; our students practice leadership from an early age, try leadership out in many situations, reflect upon their experience, are mentored by those who themselves understand and exemplify leadership; we take risks so that children can take on these tasks – we accept a loss of control, imperfect outcomes, mistakes; we provide resources to support the service outcome.
  • How do we invest in “an atmosphere of love, concern, and mutual respect”? For example, we require consistent and persistent modeling by people whose actions are authentic and grounded in a firm understanding of the love of Jesus; our students are trained to put aside their own natural self-centeredness and practice a different Way. 
  • What is the investment that empowers children “to fulfill their God-given potential”? For example, we each have a willingness to explore and understand ourselves and to discover what gifts God has given us; we hire teachers who delight and continually expand their own potential; we want each child to fulfill a potential that may not have been in the school’s plan, and maybe in a way that was not in the teacher’s plan. 

These are not simple things to talk about, let alone do. CSM has worked with schools that think of their mission statement as words rather than as God’s call to bring His kingdom. Yet a school can only be excellent if it is focused on mission excellence. Without that, it is merely an echo of the secular schools around it irrespective of the number of chapels. So, we urge the truly Christian school, the Kingdom school, to:

  1. Prayerfully examine its mission and ensure that it truly represents the school’s witness in the world.
  2. Believe that the mission is sufficient, i.e., that the school cannot and is not responsible for everything.
  3. Understand the mission in the light of the Kingdom Principle.
  4. Ensure that the mission is embedded in the daily life and practice of the school
    1. Through the Board’s Strategic Plan and Financial Management.
    2. Through the school’s Strategic Academic Plan.
    3. Through each teacher’s Professional Learning Journey.

When the Christian school takes its mission seriously, commits to its fulfillment at a level of excellence, and makes it meaningful daily, it will be in the best position possible to provide God’s children with a true experience of His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

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