Why North Carolina Churches Should Start Christian Schools

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In recent decades, both churches and youth have faced significant challenges. Across the board, church attendance has seen a concerning decline, particularly among young people. Additionally, many teens who do attend church often drift away after graduation.

Unsurprisingly, the decline in church attendance parallels the worrisome decline in adolescent well-being. The prevalence of celerity idol worship, platforms like TikTok, drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality (both online and offline) connect and isolate our youth simultaneously.

Furthermore, research indicates that religious children often lose their faith while under the supervision of parents who believe they are effectively transmitting their religious values. This disheartening situation calls for a proactive response to shape future generations with culture-transforming, Christian worldview thinking.

Start a School Within the Church

The current situation demands action; complacency is not an option. Many churches are struggling to survive, and attracting and keeping youth engaged has become a major concern. Denominational leaders and church growth consultants have been promoting various “revitalization” ideas, with varying degrees of success.

However, one potential solution stands out: starting a school within the church.

Church leaders must take responsibility, acknowledging that youth programs often fail to meet expectations for all sorts of reasons. As a result, many adult believers, as well as young people, lack a solid understanding of fundamental Christian teachings and practices.

To prevent the next generation of Christian children from falling away, we must create an environment that allows them to be educated in alignment with Christian values. It is no longer sufficient to rely solely on the brief hour or two spent at church on Sundays to counterbalance the influence of secular school culture during the remaining 35 hours of the week.

Outsourcing the education of our children to the state is no longer the best option, as it often fails to prioritize the values of the church and the home.

Unprecedented Expansion of Tuition Vouchers in North Carolina

Fortunately, there is good news. The North Carolina General Assembly has made religious schooling economically feasible by significantly expanding the Opportunity Scholarship program. This program now offers tuition assistance to all students in the state.

Scholarships amounts are determined based on family income, with low and middle-income families receiving the largest awards. This expansion benefits parents who previously could not afford private school tuition for their children.

For the 2023-2024 school year, students are eligible for scholarship grants from a low of $3,246 to $7,213.

Since the advent of North Carolina’s voucher program a decade ago, numerous churches across the state started schools while others expanded existing schools. Private school enrollment has surged and significantly outpaced the percentage growth in traditional public schools.

Most of the scholarship money already goes to religious schools. Statewide, more than two-thirds of private school students are now attending religious schools.

The State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) oversees the distribution of scholarship funds, which are paid directly to the schools. Private Christian schools maintain their own academic, religious, and admission standards, and their First Amendment rights are fully protected. The state respects the autonomy of non-public schools in terms of religious and educational philosophies.

Christian schools are a valuable investment that aligns with the mission of the church and provides a much-needed alternative to secular education.

Utilizing Church Facilities

Many church buildings remain underutilized during the school week, offering potential space for classrooms, food service facilities, and recreational areas. Remodeling or constructing additional facilities to accommodate more students is an option, as is sharing space with nearby churches or leasing additional space.

The student vouchers are paid directly to the school and should cover teachers’ salaries at a minimum.

Private schools have the flexibility to determine class sizes, and research suggests that smaller class sizes lead to better academic outcomes. With the availability of the Opportunity Scholarship program, churches should seize the opportunity to invest in a Christian school and extend their reach into the community.

The Value of Christ-Centered Education

Christian education offers numerous benefits, including better academic outcomes, lower costs, and the development of discipline and moral foundations that have become scarce in public schools.

With the monopoly on public education funds held by government-run schools, parents often find themselves ineffective in influencing curricula and values. By utilizing the expanded Opportunity Scholarship program, parents can choose schools that align with their beliefs and effectively pass on their faith to their children.

To address the crisis faced by struggling churches and youth, establishing a Christian school within your church can be a powerful solution. Education plays a significant role in shaping children’s beliefs and identity,

Starting a Christian school allows churches to actively engage and educate youth in alignment with Christian values. Christian schools are a valuable investment that aligns with the mission of the church and provides a much-needed alternative to secular education.

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Sam Currin

Sam Currin

Dr. Sam Currin ([email protected]) lives in Raleigh, NC and is a former judge, law professor, and United States Attorney. An ordained Baptist minister, he holds degrees from Wake Forest University, UNC School of Law, and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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