Monday, February 21, 2011

A Question About Simple Church and Homeschooling

Here's a question I've been pondering but haven't yet figured out a satisfying answer:

The question: Why is it that almost all families involved in simple church life also homeschool their children, but many families who choose to homeschool do not take part in simple church life?

For example, here in Savannah we know a small number of families (some we gather with) who have embraced simple church.  Every one of those families also educates their children at home.  On the flip side, we know many families who have chosen to homeschool.  Some of these families gather in a simple manner, but most attend larger, traditional churches that run the range of denominations, styles, etc.  A good number even go to Savannah's only mega-church.

To sum up, almost all who take part in simple church also home educate, but most who home educate do not take part in simple church.

Why do you think this is the case?

22 comments:

Arthur Sido said...

Maybe it has to do with how we view Biblical interpretation? I see the commands to educate our children and the Biblical descriptions of the church as timeless and binding on Christians. Not that those who don't homeschool or aren't involved in simple church don't but there is clearly a difference in interpretation.

Eric said...

Arthur,

What I find fascinating about the whole thing is that it seems that if someone is consistent in interpreting the bible, he will come to the same conclusions about both home education and simple church.

What I'm really trying to figure out is why so many folks are homeschoolers but still attend traditional churches. In particular, it amazes me when homeschooling families have their kids take part in Sunday School, Children's Church, Youth Group, etc.

Arthur Sido said...

Well up until recently we homeschooled and were attending traditional churches. It seems homeschooling is a more acceptable manifestation and fits with the idea of not being worldly. I still think that for me and my family there are a lot of places where we should do things differently but don't yet.

Eric said...

We were the same. We began homeschooling nine years ago, but only within the last year became convinced about simple church life.

I suppose it is easy to see the worldliness of the secular, government schools. Therefore, deciding to homeschool probably comes first for most people.

Tim A said...

Possibly
1.They don't view the institutionalized form of church to be as corrupt and as dangerous to the faith of their children as the public school system.

2. They still consider sending their children off to someone else to teach the Bible a good thing.

3. They don't see the spiritual value of having their children see their parents modeling real one another church life.

4. Maybe they think this is their escape time to not have to "deal" with their children for a brief period.

5. Maybe they think lecturing the Bible is "real teaching" and "real preaching" even though they don't lecture their children to accomplish real teaching at home.

6. Maybe they like the perks that come to themselves by being a part of a system that directs 86% of their "giving" to buy goodies for themselves.

7. Maybe their hearts are hardened by not being involved in God's designed dynamic of "exhorting one another daily" Heb. 3: 12-14

There are a lot of maybe' s. You have to ask each family.

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

I kind of see homeschooling like our daily quiet times. It's good to go to Church and learn, but most important to get our homeschooling straight from the Bible. It's good to pray in a group, but most important that we pray as individuals and develop a personal relationship with Christ. Then when we gather with others, we have gifts and insights to share, to build each other up. His message to me today may be entirely different from what He says to you. But I would still be blessed by what He showed you, and visa versa. We can't depend only on the Church for our relationship with Christ, but when we gather together we certainly do gain strength and hope.

Eric said...

Tim,

Thanks for those ideas. I think you are correct that there may be differing reasons for different families. You reason #1 is likely the most common one.

Eric said...

Karen,

Thanks for commenting. I want to understand your main point. Could you please restate it? Thanks!

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Sorry! I'm sometimes out in left field :) My point is that homeschooled Christians, those who pray, study the Bible and sing at home are of much better service to any type of Church than those who only pray, and read the Bible at Church. Sometimes the larger Churches forget this. True Christianity isn't only on Sunday.

bill.mureiko said...

Eric,

Great question--one that I have asked many times. Although it's easy to paint homeschoolers with a broad brush, when you dig a little deeper you find a tremendous diversity of reasons for homeschooling. Many are fear-based (i.e., fear of what the godless school system will do to your children). Many are achievement-based (i.e., I can teach my children better than those lousy teachers). Frankly, only a few in our experience do it solely or primarily because they are convinced that it is the most God-honoring, Biblically sound method of raising children.

If you homeschool out of fear, guess what? You may also be afraid that your child will miss out on all the cool "stuff" that comes with being in a traditional church. (Case in point: I have heard homeschooling parents say that they simply can't imagine (they are afraid of) their child living without a senior prom. So, either the local HS support group or the local church youth group puts on a non-alcoholic prom.) If you homeschool to send your child to Harvard, well, lots of extracurricular activities provided by the church will help.

If you abandon everything the world has to offer in the raising of your children you begin to see that a lot of what makes the public and private school systems so antithetical to raising children also infects the traditional, activity based church. And, frankly, the deception within the traditional church setting is more insidious than the deception in the public school system.

Our own journey is probably similar to yours. We started homeschooling first and then, through the lens that homeschooling provided, we began to see the myriad ways that Complicated Church interfered not so much with our control but with living what we saw as a much simpler life commanded by Scripture.

That has been my experience, anyway.

Great question and great blog.

Eric said...

Karen,

Thanks!

Eric said...

Bill,

Thanks for the kind words.

I agree that many Christians have not fully thought through the issue. Some do seem to think that their kids truly benefit from all the programs and activities of the institutional church.

I have to remind myself just how long it took me to "see the light." My hope and prayer is that many others eventually see the same.

MinickFamily said...

Perhaps you might consider inviting these families to your Lord's Day gathering.

Eric said...

Minicks,

We have, but most seem content with where they are. Maybe they will visit sometime.

rodrigo said...

Well we actually were involved in a home church before we homeschooled. But that might had something to do with the fact that we didn't have any children when we started meeting in homes.;)

When we first started in 98 people were not as familiar with house church as they are now. I often compared it to homeschool as a non threatening way of explaining it.


When homeschool started it wasn't very accepted and only "weird" people did it. But as time passed it got more acceptable and the good fruits of it became more apparent. I think house church is kind of taking the same path but is
15 years on behind.

I think the reason they tend to run together is because both have a strong emphasis on the value of
relationship.

Steve Scott said...

Eric and all,

I'd like to point out some dangers in the line of thinking that is going on here. I'm not saying anybody is doing this, but there are some dangers. First, as sympathetic as I am toward home schooling for many reasons, I don't see home schooling as it is often practiced here in America as commanded in the bible. Yes, parents should train their children, but where's the command that says it has to be done by the nuclear family parents? and exclusively the parents? And for the record, I'm not unsympathetic toward the home school movement. But homeschooling and house churching can be a major source of pride and arrogance for many people.

It's true, there are problems with public education, but I know of many instances where Christians have placed their kids in public schools where both the teachers and principals are Christians, too. Also, people have difficult providences in their lives and can't always - or sometimes ever - live up to a "biblical ideal," however that ideal is constructed.

As for the similarity of interpretation that leads both to homeschool and house church, people may see that in their own lives. But, if you take this just one step further, it can be seen that it can change. The interpretation going on for some people can in reality be one of proof-texting for do-it-yourself-ism. I know so many Christians who have taken the homeschool and house church ideals to every area of life. They quit thier city jobs and sell their suburban homes to move into the country to be completely "self-sufficient." All the while holding to intricate economic ideas of division of labor. Go figure. Many of these Christians grow their own food, brew their own beer (this one is almost worshipped), raise their own farm animals (even in the burbs), make their own clothes. It never ends. I even had one Facebook friend ask if anybody knew how to grow tobacco, so he could learn and end up smoking his own pipe or cigars.

Again, I'm not rebuking anybody here, I'm just pointing out that the connection isn't necessarily one of consistent hermeneutics.

Eric said...

Rod,

You wrote, "I think the reason they tend to run together is because both have a strong emphasis on the value of relationship." I think you make a good point. I hadn't really thought of it in those terms, but it makes sense.

I am gad to now see both homeschooling and house churching becoming less identified with the "weirdos" of society. My hope is that more Christians become open to these ideas.

Eric said...

Steve,

That is a good word of caution. I suppose just about anything can be taken to an unhealthy extreme.

In this post I'm trying to get at the methods of decision making people use when they look at scripture. I realize that this varies from person to person and family to family, but I find it fascinating nonetheless. It strikes me that people who home school and/or house church often arrive at these conclusions by using differing methods of interpretation. I'm wondering aloud about this inconsistency.

Steve Scott said...

Eric,

A followup thought came to mind. The question being asked ties homeschooling to simple church. I'm not sure these two ideas come together without previously existing connections.

For instance, I would never have thought of either just by reading a bible. I have come to believe what I have about these issues because I've heard about them from others. Your question seems to indicate that simple church might simply be a subset of homeschooling. It would be interesting to look into how most simple churches were started and by whom.

The father of the modern American homeschool movement, RJ Rushdoony, held to more of a traditional church format, and I know of him mostly as a Presbyterian. So, that might be a reason for so many homeschoolers in traditional church. A traditional "Reformed" church I went to for years grew from a small group to hundreds over that time. At about 200 people I could say that I didn't know of a single family that didn't homeschool.

To boil it down, what I'm suggesting is that there might simply be an adding of a second viewpoint that comes from people who already hold to a first. Just thinking outloud.

Eric said...

Steve,

Thanks for your thoughts.

You said, "Your question seems to indicate that simple church might simply be a subset of homeschooling." Please know that I didn't intend for it to come across that way. Rather, I'm just observing an interesting relationship between the two.

Frankly, I could see a family that homeschools study the bible and decide to be a part of a traditional church. I could also see a family that is part of simple church study the bible and choose to place their kids in public school.

It's the decision making process that I find fascinating.

Steve Scott said...

Eric,

Yes, I do realize you didn't intend for it to come across like that. I agree with the decision making process.

Part of what I was getting at in my comments (it seems to take a while these days!) is that people usually do the things they've been exposed to. The more somebody hears about homeschooling, or Calvinism, etc., the more likely they are to embrace that idea. They've heard an idea, or maybe several ideas hashed out, and they agree with the one, or come to the conclusion that one of the several is more biblical. Most Americans over the last 100 years have had their kids in public schools, so it's the "natural" thing to do. They haven't been exposed to an alternate or have, but not heard a strong enough argument to embrace it, or maybe don't see themselves as being able to make such a commitment.

Eric said...

Steve,

I agree that people are much more likely to do and/or believe what they are exposed to. I suppose this causes us to rely on God's grace to gradually bring us into contact with more and more things that please Him.