HOST NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday July 13th. Good morning! This is The world and all in it of WORLD Radio supported by the listeners. I am Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Meet WORLD founder Joel Belz to make Christian education accessible to more families.
JOEL BELZ, COMMENTATOR: I suggested a few weeks ago that more and more Christian schools are becoming “elitist”. I should have been ready for the response from the readers and listeners of LE MONDE. Now, I wish I had been more specific. The term “elite” in my computer dictionary carries a handful of positive and negative connotations. Being part of the “elite” could be a good thing, but it could also be a denigration.
In my recent column, I said that the growth of Christian schools over the past generation has come at, as I said, “a certain cost.” Maybe that was an understatement. The actual cost of enrolling in a Christian school has increased by a multiple of three, four – and probably even more – over the past few decades.
This dramatic increase puts the cost of Christian schooling beyond the reach of thousands of middle-class families. Many get away with saving and saving a lot. The really serious impact, of course, is on low-income families.
Dr. Alan Pue, head of Barnabas Group Inc., has extensive experience in school administration and consulting. Much of this can be found in his book titled, Rethinking sustainability. Pue thinks it confuses the issue when I label some Christian schools as elitist. He said to me, “As someone shrewdly observed, ‘No money, no mission.’ Indeed, fiscal sustainability is a daunting challenge for virtually all Christian schools.
Pue continued, “To my knowledge, no Christian school intentionally intends to create financial barriers… For many families, however, Christian schooling is beyond their financial reach. If we can’t make Christian school affordable, we still have to find a way to make it accessible.
“Here is another reality,” Pue told me. “While Christian schools are engaged in both educational and life-transforming efforts, ultimately they are not unlike a business – they must produce enough money to pay their bills. is where the evangelical church could make a huge difference.He suggests they could provide “scholarships for families who are really in need”.
Pue says too many churches “ignore the reality of… young people who are forced to attend their local public schools….” He told me bluntly that he believed such schools “do more to divert our children’s minds from Christ than anything other than the media that inundates our children on a daily basis.”
To counter this trend, Pue produced his latest book last summer. This is the sequel to his book Rethinking sustainability. This is titled Rethinking Discipleship, and that shows why the Christian school is important to all of us.
Now that seems more democratic than the elite!
I am Joel Belz.
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