A homeschool-friendly church can provide the benefit of spiritual
leadership, positive relationships, and abundant educational resources.
Most churches offer the free use of expensive educational materials
through the church library, as well as opportunities to learn real-world
skills through missions and ministry.
In spite of potential benefits, many homeschoolers wonder if
church-based ministries and activities will add stress, pressuring
parents to attend age-segregated functions and taking time and energy
away from already over-scheduled families.
Unfortunately, some homeschool families carry deep emotional and
spiritual wounds from past church conflicts and misunderstandings. If
your church is actively hostile to homeschoolers, seek God’s will in the
situation and network with members in your local homeschool support
group. Whatever the challenges, homeschoolers can show love for their
church family, and find ways to help their church understand their
commitment to homeschool education.
In truth, sometimes homeschoolers (our family included) can be hard to
please. That’s not bad, if you are standing firmly on biblical grounds.
However, here’s another way to look at it: Are you a church-friendly
homeschool family? Can you reconcile your legitimate high expectations
and standards (such as wanting to raise your children to value modesty
and courtship instead of casual dating) with the realization that none
of us is perfect, and there is no one perfect church?
Can you find ways, as a family, to help out wherever your church and
pastor need volunteers? Can you submit to one another in love, without
sacrificing your spiritual and moral commitments? Can you openly share
how the church can better help meet the legitimate needs of homeschool
families? As you deal positively with social challenges and reconciling
relationships, your children will grow in confidence and real world
If your children join you in church services and ministry activities
(which we highly recommend), you may face extra scrutiny from other
families who do not keep their children with them. If your kids are the
only ones in the service or activity, your family will probably
experience extra pressure to conform to expectations, such as
Our first challenge, if we want to include our young children in
church-based education, will be to teach them respectful manners in
public. If that has been a problem, it helps to practice sitting still
and listening quietly together at home, before venturing out into the
We use books such as Gregg Harris’s 21 Rules of This House to teach our
children how we expect them to treat others. Find your free copy at
fortifyingthefamily.com/21_rules.htm. The Well-Trained Heart: A Guide to
the Relational Approach to Homeschooling, by Ray and Donna Reish, also
offers practical suggestions to teach “from an early age to love that
which is good-obedience, kindness, deference, thoughtfulness, empathy,
and other godly character traits.”
Think ahead, and you can role play how to act in many different public
situations, including church. As your kid’s behavior allows, gradually
include them in church activities that include families.
Shortly before the service or activity starts, discuss clear
consequences, such as lost privileges, for misbehavior. Also talk about
the benefits of good behavior, such as pleasing parents and friends and
being a good example for others.
In the past, we’ve provided drawing materials and picture Bibles to help
keep small fidgety hands busy and mouths quiet. We also discuss the main
points of the service afterwards, to determine our child’s level of
understanding. We’ve found that small children and youngsters with
special needs often understand far more than they can articulate;
therefore, sometimes a “multiple choice” approach works best. For
instance, you might ask, “When the pastor talked about Jesus being a
shepherd, did he mean real sheep, or was he talking about people?”
However, if children and adults are in separate, age-segregated
activities, it is difficult to determine what, if anything, children are
learning from the experience, although they may be having a great time.
Sometimes kids and church activities just don’t fit together well; if
so, maybe you can try something else. For instance, a child that loves
to talk might rather be a greeter at the door. Or perhaps your talker
might like to help other kids check out resources from the church
library. Wiggly kids, who hate to sit still for long periods, might
prefer helping in the nursery, finding chairs for visitors, and passing
the collection plate.
If parents serve together with their children, they are available to
guide the children. Church leadership is helped, instead of burdened.
Prayerfully seek out church-based activities that you can participate in
together as a family. Consider organizing or helping to supervise Bible
history events, local missions, sports teams, music and drama
ministries, Bible studies, Bible clubs, 4-H, Vacation Bible school and
family board game nights. A church in our area started a chess club as a
community outreach; many local homeschoolers and community members
participated. Other homeschoolers volunteered time teaching reading to
needy community children.
In some cases, you may find-or start-a church-based homeschool support
group or co-op (a cross between homeschooling and part-time private
Christian school). For information and ideas on starting your own
church-based homeschool academy or co-op, visit
unitingchurchandhome.org and firstclasshomeschool.org. Uniting Church
and Home, offers free introductions to
MP3 audio-based courses, such as “How the Church and Home Unite Together
in Gospel Ministry.”
When homeschool families and churches work together, both are
strengthened. Churches benefit when homeschoolers lend willing hands of
all ages to help meet needs in the church. Homeschoolers profit from
church educational resources, as well as the opportunity to develop
relationships, serve in the community, find encouragement, and learn
together. Older homeschool families can be visible and available to
train up young parents that may be struggling with discipline and
education issues. Your family need not homeschool alone; join together
in church-based homeschooling!
Melissa L. Morgan is the co-author of Educational Travel on a Shoestring
and Homeschooling on a Shoestring. With her husband, Hugh, she has
homeschooled their three children from birth, taking advantage of many
educational opportunities in the real world. She invites you to visit
her website at www.eaglesnesthome.com.
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