It is logical for confusion to exist when those of us in K-12 Christian education begin to define ourselves. It should be simple and straightforward, right? Well, not exactly. The many Christian schools that exist across the American landscape do share a common goal: we are colleagues who have embraced a calling to academic excellence in an environment that honors Christ preeminently. I have discovered none who refutes this. These two aspirational goals stand as the cornerstones and foundations on which Christian education has been built.
Christian schools have been ordained by God to seek various paths to accomplish these primary, yet lofty, aims. Mount Paran Christian School (MPCS) is among those. The defining narrative of a school is found in the mission it embraces. There are eight motivating phrases that seek to identify the uniqueness of MPCS. They include academic excellence and Christ-centered environment – those common to all – but also partnering with home, uniting with church, preparing servant-leaders, honoring God, loving others, and walking in the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dissertations could be written on each of these values we hold dear, but space here does not allow a full exploration of these values. Sufficient to say, throughout its nearly 50-year existence, MPCS has embraced the bold idea of modeling a Christ-like life of service by avoiding it as a cliché and defining it as a life to live and a challenge to espouse. A true scholar-servant will seek to know God intimately, love others deeply, and walk in the Truth articulated by Holy Scripture. Therein lies our definition of honorable, God-honoring service for our students, faculty, and staff alike.
IN PARTNERSHIP FOR STUDENTS
Long before the recent school choice movement recognized that parents have the primary role in educating their children, MPCS has stood firmly on this principle since its inception. Parents are not an interference to our process; they have honored us with their greatest God-gifts, and we are called to hear their aspirations and know their heart for their children. They are truly partners in this transformative work. Likewise, we honor the labors of our local churches, recognizing that the best balance of a Christ-centered education relies on the strength of a three-legged stool: a God-trusting family, a Christ-honoring school, and a Bible-preaching church. The absence of one of these creates an unstable and insecure world for the children we seek to serve.
BEYOND THE MISSION
Yes, MPCS is missional. Every program created, every conversation shared, every goal developed, all begin and end with the mission in mind. But - and here comes part of the confusion I referenced earlier - many schools who identify themselves as “missional” do so to distinguish themselves from those of us who are “covenantal.” MPCS is proudly and unapologetically covenantal. So, what does that mean, and how does that distinguish us from many other Christian schools?
Students at “missional” schools come from a variety of faith traditions, all with the knowledge that Christ will be taught, and the prayer that all will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. MPCS, while applauding these transformative goals, seeks to partner with Christ-honoring families in the education of their children to support the efforts of families who have placed Christ at the center of their family life and seek to “train up a child in the way he or she should go” (Proverbs 22:6). In this way, we share a common language of faith with all our families. One approach is not right and the other wrong! They both seek to lead children to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. All Christian schools are missional; some are also called to be covenantal.
As a 40-year veteran of Christian colleges and K-12 schools, I have heard the narratives that tend to create the confusion surrounding the very nature of Christ-centered education. Allow me to clarify Mount Paran Christian School’s distinction: As a missional and a covenantal school, MPCS’s commitment to transformed lives through Jesus Christ defines not what we do; it clarifies who we are and whose we are.
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