Homeschooling and Missional? Absolutely!
Do I think homeschooling and the missional life are incompatible? Absolutely not. This is the beginning of a post I wrote for the Jesus Creed blog in response to Tony Jones’s recent posts on homeschooling.
I recently read the posts by Tony Jones about homeschooling (“Death to Homeschooling“ and “Why Homeschoolers Do Not Understand Missional“), in which he argues that homeschooling by its very nature runs counter to missional living. Jones states that “missional means showing Christlike compassion to other human beings and to all of creation,” and that choosing to homeschool ones’ children results in an abdication of our “God-given role as a missional member of society.”
Let me just highlight two fallacies in Jones’s arguments, and offer my perspective on why homeschooling and living the missional life can absolutely go hand in hand with one another.
First of all, homeschooling one’s children does not automatically result in an anti-missional lifestyle any more than sending one’s children to public schools guarantees a missional one. It doesn’t matter what type of school your children attend. The greatest influence on a child’s life that will determine how missional he or she becomes is whether or not that child’s parents are living a missional lifestyle themselves.
I know plenty of Christian parents with children in public schools who lead the exact opposite of a missional lifestyle. They are caught up in the “race to nowhere“, buying into the fallacy that being a good parent means investing all of your resources and time into the furthering of your own children’s talents and abilities, without a thought to what is happening to others in the neighborhoods and communities around them.
In addition, the pull of so-called “desirable” school systems turns the decision to send one’s children to public schools into less a missional choice and more one influenced by the overriding desire to ensure a safe, secure, and successful future for one’s kids.
Yes, families with kids in public school may cross paths with a larger swath of “society” on a daily basis than homeschooled kids, but that is no guarantee that the public-school Christians will actually display Christ-like compassion and sacrificial love towards their neighbors. Look no further than the behavior of the religious leaders in the story of the Good Samaritan to see a depiction of faith unmoved to action.
Conversely, I know plenty of parents who choose to homeschool their kids and who lead unbelievably missional lives. Like Carisa, who with her husband and children regularly minister to the people they meet in their inner-city Philadelphia neighborhood. I wrote about Carisa in my book The Missional Mom, and she says this about her family’s experience:
“We have prisoners and heroin addicts in our home all the time because my husband leads the recovery ministry here. These are people we count as friends, who we have Thanksgiving with, who my kids will hug and call “˜Uncle.’ These are people I love.”
If Carisa’s family is not considered an example of demonstrating Christ-like compassion to other human beings, I don’t know who is.
(You can read the entire post here.)