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.