Pastor Mark Driscoll, who recently planted The Trinity Church in Phoenix, Arizona, a year and a half after resigning from well-known megachurch Mars Hill amid controversy, recently shared his thoughts on whether parents should homeschool their children, or send them to private or public school.
"This is an incredibly important issue, and one that all parents need to...consider, particularly those of us who are Christian," Driscoll, who has five children with his wife, Grace, said in a recent blog post. "But first thing you want in an education, is an education, and wherever your kids are at, they're going to find ministry opportunities."
The pastor addresses the history and early influence of Christianity on education, revealing that it was the Protestant Reformation that first allowed people to read the Bible in their own language. The early American pioneers also placed emphasis on literacy and the importance of education, and taught children to read and spell using Bible stories.
"Historically, it was God's people who cared about..people being able to read and write, and to study for themselves and also vote." he said. But while early American education was heavily influenced by Christianity, that is no longer the case today.
As a new believer, Driscoll was forced to defend his faith while attending public school, something he said "grew him" spiritually. However, for others, doing so caused difficulties.
The pastor argues that not all public schools in the U.S. are the same - some are highly opposed to Christian principles, while others promote and even encourage such values.
"It's more of a case-by-case. Do your homework and see what's going on," Driscoll advises parents.
While his own children have always attended Christian schools, sometimes, parents send their children to Christian schools simply to straighten them out.
"Sometimes you get the most rebellious kids at the Christian school cuz they got in trouble or kicked out of the public school," Driscoll warned. "There are non-Christians everywhere you go and there are Christians everywhere you go."
In addition, just because teachers claim to know God doesn't always mean they teach Biblical values: "Once again, you really need to do your homework and ask, 'What are my options?'" Driscoll said.
A third option is homeschooling, which the pastor said can mean a variety of things. "What has been called 'homeschool' is now this enormous category with a number of options," he said. "That comes down to, does the family have a structure that allows that? There are all these variables in people's lives where organizing school for their kids is not something they are able to do in that season."
Driscoll warns against approaching schooling with a legalistic attitude, as there are a lot of complexities of the modern world and variables that come into a family unit. Instead, he tells parents to make the decision "per child, per year."
"I will say a lot of grace is needed when you make the decision per child per year," he said. "Kids change, circumstances change, finances change, opportunities change, schools change, and leadership changes."
Ultimately, Driscoll reminds parents that they are the most influential and important person in their child's life. To make his point, he cites Exodus 20:21 - "Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you," and Ephesians 6:4 - "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
"Nothing will work unless the parents are heavily invested and involved...working and walking with their own child and not pushing off their parental responsibilities on the school. The school is not the parent," the pastor concludes. "So whether you choose to public school, private school, or homeschool...you are responsible in sight of God for your child."
As The Gospel Herald has reported, Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill Church in late 2014 after a string of controversies.