As a pastor, I have faced many challenges. Leadership decisions, sickness, resolving conflict, and a host of other such things are part and parcel of pastoral life. Over time, you learn to how to be effective.
There are some things, however, that you never seem to figure out. Those are the challenges that stick with you. For me, it was the challenge of losing young adults. In the places I served, something happened to people when they turned sixteen. Not only could they drive a car, but they chose to drive that car almost anywhere but to worship and fellowship in the church. They were there while parents made them come, but they never owned it. They never loved it. In other words, they were never “really” there in the first place.
For years, I agonized over what to do. We hosted events, changed small group teachers, and introduced new bible studies. None of our ideas really worked. So I lived frustrated, confused, and concerned about the future of evangelicalism.
It did not take me long to realize I was not alone. As a matter of fact, studies indicate that between 50-60% of teenagers walk away from their faith, breaking their parents’ hearts and weakening the church in the process. To make matters worse, those who leave their faith often make poor life choices that often change their future.
We all agree that something must be done. What we do not agree on, however, is what we must do. For my part, I am convinced of this: one hour on Sunday is not enough. Students must be trained every single day to live out their faith every single day.
Enter the Christian school.
The mission of a Christian school is two-fold. One, a Christian school must be incubator of a maturing Christian faith. That means teachers play a critical role. They must not only teach the faith but live that faith out before watching students. And they must live that faith with a kind of deep joy that is infectious.
Second, Christian schools must equip kids for success in life. This is the academic piece, where students are trained to learn and love learning.
Several years ago, I heard John Piper preach about having a holy ambition. A holy ambition is a God-given dream for a God-sized task. At CLA, our holy ambition is to create a place that is a healthy incubator for growing faith as well as a launching pad for a successful life. It is a God-given call to a God-sized task. And it is one that is worth every second we give to it.