Saturday, September 5, 2009

Keeping the Focus on Christian Education During the Recession

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials
of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith
develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
--James 1:2-3

The recession has affected businesses and nonprofit organizations nationwide, and Christian schools have been no exception.

According to a recent article in WORLD Magazine, an online Christian publication, last year was the first time in seven years that the student population of the member schools of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), one of the organizations with which Christian School of York is accredited, declined.

Sadly, closings or mergers of 200 schools were a significant factor in the enrollment drop of 4.6 percent.

While the Lord has blessed CSY to remain on a solid footing, our enrollment has inevitably been affected by the number of families in our community who are struggling due to the overall economic conditions.

A time of national and global crisis inevitably creates trials for us as believers. The faith that so many in our nation have been able to place in money has been challenged, and these challenges can test our faith as believers that God will always provide for our needs.

But like any trials, the current crisis is also an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth for us as Christian individuals, families, and organizations, and for the Body of Christ as a whole.

The enemy may try to take advantage of the situation by using economic strains as a way of trying to pull families away from their focus on and commitment to a Christian education for their children.

But with every trial, the Lord gives us a way out. And in this kind of crisis, the growth opportunity with which the Lord presents us is to draw closer to one another within the community to help the individuals, families, and institutions within the Body of Christ that may be experiencing hardships.

Here are some suggestions for prayerful meditation on the effect that the economic crisis is having on Christian education, and for action as the Lord may move your heart:
  • Stay in close communication with fellow families who have children enrolled in Christian schools. If you are able to offer help to a family you believe may be struggling, prayerfully consider doing so.
  • If the Lord continues to bless your finances in spite of the economic crisis, consider whether He may be moving you to give a love offering in the form of a donation to a Christian school, particularly a donation that you specifically ask be used to help a struggling family or to make up a budget shortfall from enrollment declines.
  • Talk to your pastor and to your brothers and sisters in your church about Christian education in your community. If an awareness emerges of Christian schools or families in your community that may be struggling, prayerfully discuss what you may be able to do as a community to help.
  • For those of you who have been blessed with the means to provide your children with a Christian education, share your positive experiences of your school with as many other families as possible, so that new families may be moved by the Lord to enroll their children.
  • If the Lord is continuing to prosper your business, consider whether your staff may have room for a deserving individual within the Christian community who may have lost a job for reasons related to the economy and who may, as a result, be struggling to keep his or her child enrolled in a Christian school.
As part of the Body of Christ, we’re all interconnected, like the branches of a tree. Apart from Him and from the other members of the Body of Christ, we cannot bear fruit. While the community of the faithful, like the secular community, is experiencing a time of struggle, the crisis also gives us a chance to work together to bear even greater fruit, even in the face of challenge, and to let the love and light of Christ in us shine even more brightly among men.

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