One never knows where inspiration will come to us from in our busy lives. One Sunday, my wife and I were traveling to Toronto after church to visit my daughter and her family. I tuned into CBC and caught the morning program “The 180 ” with Jim Brown. He shared several interesting segments, but one in particular caught my attention.
Toronto writer Julie Green was featured, as she reflected on the wisdom of her decision to raise her son without religion. She commented on how she and her husband had decided to live a secular life and how they rejected baptism for their son. As her son grew older, she began to wonder if she had made the right decision. Was she adding more confusion into her son’s life by omitting a Christian upbringing? Would a life without clear Christian values undermine his development? Listen to Julie as she describes her dilemma:
As she continues to reflect on the choices she’s made, and the impact they’ve had on her son’s upbringing, Julie comes so close to acknowledging the right decision for her son! She seemed to catch the values of a Christian upbringing and the strength of a Christian’s faith. She understood that by choosing to raise her son outside of a community of believers, she was giving her son an impossible task of discernment for meaning without a religious foundation.
I was fully anticipating that she would conclude her reflections by sharing that the family decided to return to their church community. But, she didn’t. She actually affirmed, proudly in fact, her rejection of faith as a valued contribution to the good life for her son.
As much as I was sad about Julie’s decision, I believe that there are many young people, like her, struggling with the deep issues of faith and belief in a secular society. I believe our Christian schools, and especially the bond of a faith community of students and parents, attract young families seeking meaning in their lives and for the lives of their children. Many are returning to their church communities. Others are one or two generations away from a Christian family experience.
The lesson for us in the Christian school movement is to be open to the seeking out of these non-churched families. How many have quietly come alongside your Christian school community and have initiated contact? How many more have done the same but did not have the courage to knock on the door? Did you notice them? Are we truly welcoming these families? Do we make it easy or difficult for them to join our community?
What would we say or just quietly do to help a “Julie” return to her Christian yearning, and to make her and her children feel welcome in our Christian school community?