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When asked recently to make a comment concerning the ministry of Berean Academy, this teacher faced a task that had no easy answer. For sure, the Christian school model is only one of many options that can serve to educate children. The term “option” implies the existence of many roads to the same destination. Yet, if that is what one believes to be the case, then why would instructors, administrators, school board members, and prayerful constituents dedicate their lives to what some might consider as only an alternative course of action?
To be so dedicated to this plan of education, the purpose of education, the procedure of education, and the success of the educational plan need to be considered. Students are not only important to parents and instructors but ultimately they are God’s creation. He did not devote His creativity to make a nondescript nobody; rather each one is made in His likeness and each one is the object of His love. Teachers and parents are placed as stewards of the potential and promise that each student has. In God’s plan –which is perfect—He, for some reason, entrusted the nurturing aspect of moral and spiritual development to parents and teachers. The ideal combination for this is to have educators who reinforce each other and who have the goal based on Colossians 2:8-9, which indicates that the philosophies of this world are either man-centered or God-centered. Education is never neutral. The ultimate purpose of education at Berean Academy is to recognize the authoritative centrality of the Scripture and to instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of our students.
This purpose does not come by default. Rather, the procedure of Berean is to work with parents and churches to incorporate the truths of God’s Word into the daily curriculum of the school. When a student learns to use a Biblical filtration system in the early years of study, he or she follows the example of the early Bereans who examined the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Nearly all academic settings provide knowledge that is valuable and well-presented. Berean education is distinguished by the opportunity to evaluate and measure the beauty and order of knowledge within the framework of truth as set forth in Scripture. The primary players in the Berean education arena are the teachers. (Someone has estimated that in grades 1-12 there are 12,000 hours spent in the company of teachers.) Luke 6:40 makes the comment that a disciple who is fully trained will be like his teacher. To the degree that parents and teachers collaborate in teaching the truth, the students will not simply be programmed to adhere to a set of doctrines or behavioral standards but will come to consider Biblical truth as their own and not simply a replica of tradition.
If a cause is so significant that many people commit their lives to that effort, then what is the indicator of success that validates the mission of Berean? Our success is not always quantifiable. Simply receiving a diploma from Berean Academy is not an indicator of having a mission accomplished. Comparing our test scores with those of other student populations is an uncontrolled and unreliable measure of success. Providing a head-count of students who have become missionaries or pastors does not validate our ministry. Onlookers with a utilitarian predisposition will resist the notion that success is not always immediately definitive. When students graduate, they enter the ongoing educational experience of adult life. In that setting, there are no bells, schedules, or research papers. However, there is a Sourcebook...and if the ability to measure experiences and lessons with the standards of God’s truth is employed, then our mission will have been successful. The writer has seen hundreds of graduates walk across our stage and flip the tassel to the other side of their mortarboard. At that moment, our school personnel experience pride in the achievements which are measured in terms of certificates and grade letters. However, there is also the realization that life is now a challenge that remains largely unknown. If the preparation at Berean Academy has equipped them to interface experience with Biblical principles, then the effort and expense of Christian education is definitely worthwhile and fruitful. Also, as the adult life progresses, there will be many enticements and distractions which will be presented to members of our alumni. If a love for God’s Word has been acquired at Berean and perpetuated into adult life, then those allurements which will surface will be evaluated and compared to the wealth and satisfaction of God’s Word.
For those who work at Berean Academy, the idea that we are stewards of valuable resources is always on our minds. We cannot forget the admonition from I Corinthians that “it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” The viability of the ministry of Berean can be attributed to a degree to the dedication of those “stewards” who have purposed to devote themselves to serving young people and their families in our community.