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The Relation of the Home to the Christian School

Rev. C.J. Quill

1927 Synod Convention Essay

Two unspeakably important institutions loom before our mind’s eye, loom high — the home and the Christian school. These will never cease, nay rather increase their cry and unconditional claim upon our attention, our most serious concern and consideration.

They tell our past, present and future, tell what we have been, what we are, and what we may hope to be, as a Church and as a people. Of this our Church is not unmindful, but it is becoming ever more conscious.

In her sincere desire for a healthy Christian life and growth, steady progress and a future, sure and secure, our Church, no doubt, must desire for her constituents a clear and evermore clear Lutheran consciousness of the significance of the Christian school and of the right attitude of the home to it. Hence the request for a paper on the subject to be read before the Synod in convention. The task assigned, as I take it, is to set forth with all possible clearness and due emphasis — the relation of the home to the Christian school, the relation as it should be, rather than the relation as it is.

As the basis for my humble contribution, I have chosen the familiar words of Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

In order to set forth most effectually the right relation or attitude of the home to the Christian school, it would be well, perhaps, to begin with a clear conception of the home, the home as it should be, the real home.

Much has been said, volumes and volumes have been written and read about the home.

The home has been called, and rightly so, the foundation of all society and order among men. The word “foundation” means — “that upon which anything stands, or by which it is supported; the lowest and supporting layer of a structure, the groundwork.”

The home the foundation! How important! Everything rests upon the foundation. Was the Lord, our God, concerned about its character when He laid the foundation for His church and His great redemptive work for man? Hear! “Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a sure foundation.” (Isaiah 16,28)

What was that foundation? “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 3,11.)

The home the foundation! How necessary that the home be of the highest type possible — the Christian home! And what do we mean by the Christian home? We mean the home that is Christian, not in name only, but in spirit and in truth — where Christ is all in all, the one supreme ruler, teacher, exemplar, whose word and will with each new day is dearer still, the centre of peace and of joy, of sympathy and affection, where every Christian gift and grace is carefully cultivated, each member of the family seeking to display love such as was manifested by the Master — patient, magnanimous and sympathetic — the home, where the motto “For Jesus’ sake” is the motto of the whole family — the home never too good to be left at the call of duty — the home of which we say with the poet —

“O happy home! oh, home supremely blest,

Where Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, art entertained

As the most welcome and beloved guest,

With true devotion and with love unfeigned;

Where all hearts beat in unison with Thine,

Where eyes grow brighter as they look on Thee,

Where all are ready at the slightest sign

To do Thy will, and do it heartily.”

That is the Christian home, the real home. Who would not wish to have a home like this? What Christian parents would not wish for their children, and children’s children, a home like unto it? And we may all have it.

But a home like this is not built in a day, does not spring up over night. It is the result of constant concern, of diligent, dutiful doing and sacrifice. Everything depends upon the home. There is the heart-beat of the nation. There is where the characters are molded. In almost all cases of a dissipated course of life, the cause may be traced to home-training, the roots found in a dark and sickening atmosphere of neglected childhood.

The home life has the strongest influence on the child. Nothing will leave such indelible impressions upon the child-soul as will the things seen and heard in the childhood home. What father and mother say and do, and how it is said and done, leaves its effect upon the child, more powerful and far-reaching than most parents realize. The home atmosphere and training will be reflected in the child’s entire later life.

How necessary, then, that the child be given an early and thorough Christian training, that Christ be brought as early as possible into the child’s life and increasing consciousness.

The first requisite is knowledge. The child must be given to know Christ, not only to know a little of him, or about Him, as is the sad case with so many children, called Christian, but to know Him.

But knowledge implies instruction. Whose duty is it to give the child such instruction? First and above all, it is the parents’ duty. And it is their first and most serious duty to their child. Nothing else can be compared with it in importance and eternal significance. “Train up the child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22,6.)

Originally, the religious instruction was given in the home. It was parental. The Jews were all supposed to teach their own children. The heads of each family were supposed to fear God, and, fearing Him themselves, were to teach their households to fear Him also. Still some parents would be careless, and, from various causes, some children would be neglected. These were to be carefully instructed by others. At the feast of tabernacles, special attention was to be given to such as were ignorant of God. Hear what we read in Deut. XXXI,10–13: “And Moses commanded them saying, at the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles. When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall chose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law; and that their children, which have not known anything, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.”

So carefully did the Lord provide against the leaven of ignorance that might in time leaven the whole lump of the nation. Originally the religious instruction was parental. In course of time, it became necessary to give over at least some of the instruction to others.

Shall we be satisfied with the state of affairs in our day and age, as touching our children’s opportunity to hear, learn, and know “the one thing needful”? Nine months of the year and more, and the best months, are taken by the public schools for secular instruction of our children, leaving little or no time, and that during the hot summer months, for the religious instruction.

Under such desperate state of affairs, it has become imperatively necessary for Christian homes to establish private schools, or Christian day schools.

What do we mean by the Christian school? Is it not clear to all? The word “Christian” speaks the character of the school. It is a school where Christ is taught, where His spirit rules, where His word and precepts are the principal study, the first and the last in the instruction; where the heart and mind are brought to submit to His will revealed in His word; where Christian children may daily move and develop in a Christian atmosphere. It should be clear that such a school is of the highest importance to the home. It should also be clear that the relation of the home to the Christian school should be the most earnest and intimate.

I. The Home.

In the first place, the home needs the school. Most parents have not the time in our busy clay and age to attend to the religious instruction of their children, their most sacred duty toward them, as is required of Christian fathers and mothers. Some parents lack the proper zeal and earnest. They may be willing and sincere, but for lack of due conception fail to realize the gravity of their duty and responsibility. Other parents wholly lack the necessary qualifications for teaching.

In the second place, the home entrusts the school with the care of its most precious treasures — the children — entrusts the school with the high trust to mold their character, to train and develop, to fit and equip them, mind and heart, for the battles and problems of life, and what is more, entrusts the school with the supreme trust to direct and train up their souls immortal for heaven and eternity. For these and many other weighty reasons the relation of the home to the school should be most earnest and intimate, and Christian parents should welcome a thousand times the much needed assistance and service which the Christian school is most willing and anxious to render.

II. The Christian School.

The Christian school needs the home. It exists because of the home. It is born out of the crying need of the home. Were it not for the home, it would not be, would not have been. It is of the home. The Christian school exists — for the home. It labors and loves, suffers and sacrifices, prays and perseveres — for the home. It was brought into being for the very purpose to assist and to serve the home in her endeavors and difficulties, to discharge her sacred duties, to solve her perplexing problems and to increase in Christly zeal, influence and beauty. The Christian school is for the home.

Since the Christian school exists, because — of the home, and exists, because — for the home, it should be clear that it must also exist and continue to exist — by the home. It is wholly dependent upon the home. It will be and do according to the interest and support given it by the home.

If the interest and support is half-hearted, the school, as a consequence, will be found in a weak, sickly, crippled state. How will the right relation of the home to the Christian school manifest itself?

1. In the first place, the home will manifest itself by word and deed that it realizes the pressing necessity of the Christian school, that such an institution should exist, must exist, that the home is in desperate need of just such assistance as is offered bu the Christian school.

This includes also the homes in which there are no children to be instructed. Every Christian home will belong to a Christian congregation, and every such home where the eyes are open to the crying need and care and special claim of the lambs in the fold, and the express command of the Master concerning them, — “Feed my Lambs” — will manifest itself by word and deed, that it is a matter which concerns even their home, that also they are included. And hence they will show that the Christian school is an institution which should and must exist.

Until the home realizes the significance of the Christian school, it will manifest hindrance instead of help, and the precious, priceless treasures of the home, the child-souls, will be denied the spiritual light and food and protection which they could have, should have and which is rightfully theirs.

2. In the second place, the right relation of the home to the Christian school will manifest itself in notion, in honest effort to establish such schools, born out of sincere, deep and devout prayer for divine blessing upon the undertaking. And when established, it will manifest itself in whole-hearted interest, support and sacrifice even unto suffering for the noble cause of Christ. Not only the homes that have children, but every home in the congregation, will be concerned and realize the responsibility resting upon them as Christian to their little brothers and sisters in the Lord. The interest and support will be general, a congregational cause and concern.

How will the interest and support be shown? In the first place, by sending their children to the school, by taking the schools and its work to the Lord in prayers and by giving it financial support as God prospers.

I venture the question: “Is there any money better invested than the money given to the Lord’s cause for the right instruction and guidance of child souls?” Think it over.

But to begin a good work is one thing and to keep it up is quite another. Patient continuance, steady perseverance, will lest the genuineness of interest and support. Hence — in the second place — real interest and support will be shown by the constant concern for the efficiency of the school, by efforts to acquire and maintain a high standard for the institution. The concern will be:

1. The Teacher. Nothing determines so much the standard of the school as does the teacher, or teachers. Hence, the vital concern will be not only to secure and retain the most competent, qualified and highly recommended instructors in the secular branches, but also, and especially, to exercise care, and the best judgment possible, that only such persons be placed in that high position as bear testimony to a thorough Christian character and arc found competent and qualified for the position. For it is the inculcation of the eternal truths of Christianity and the power thereof exemplified in the teacher’s life that is to be the great undercurrent in the whole instruction.

It will be realized that the teacher wields a tremendous influence over the young minds and souls, day after day, and week after week, and this repeated, perhaps, year after year. Having secured a good and faithful teacher, the home will consider itself blessed with a great gift and will earnestly endeavor to carry on and cultivate a constant Christian co-operation with the school, ever bearing in mind the rights and authority, as well as the difficult and responsible position of the ‘teacher, who is but human, bearing in mind, too, the fact that in school are children from many homes, specimen of many kinds of bringing up.

Surely the Christian home will be considerate and sympathetic with the teacher, who is given the difficult task to discipline diverse groups of children. The interest and support of the home will manifest itself in the concern about how the school is conducted. Hence —

2. The System. To acquire and maintain a high standard of efficiency, the school must be conducted according to a carefully prepared plan. There must be a system. “Order was heaven’s first law.” Order in the school work will give delight, beauty, and the best results. This the home will realize and hence will cheerfully co-operate and contribute its part that it may he accomplished. When, therefore, the work is planned for the pupils from day to day, it is important that they are present to receive the full benefit. And the home will reveal its interest and support here in the regular attendance of the children.

3. School Buildings. The quarters where the school is conducted play an important part in the efficiency of the school. The school building needs considerable and constant attention. It is very often much neglected. For one thing, careful investigation will be made to ascertain whether the school receives sufficient light. Insufficient amount of light has caused and will continue to cause no insignificant amount of eye defect among the pupils. Then there is the question of heat. It certainly does not require the knowledge of a physician to understand that keeping a child quiet, while at study, in a cold room, will subject the child to severe consequences, to much suffering during its later life. Negligence here, whether consciously or unconsciously committed, is dangerously close to cruelty.

Among many other things, in this connection, which call for consideration and concern, where the right relation of the home to the Christian school exists, might be mentioned the matter of ventilation, sanitation, physical condition of the children, social environment, and the like.

Christian parents should jealously care for the physical health of their children, for surely it is one of life’s greatest blessings. This everybody knows, if not before then surely after it is too late. “Mens sana in corpore sano.” “A sound mind in a sound body.” This is Christian mode of expression. “A sound mind in a sound body” is a blessing frequently held out and faithfully impressed on the hearts and minds in the Christian school.

Christian parents, friends! If we but stop a little in the ceaseless tearing toil and turmoil of life and turn to serious reflections on life’s most precious, priceless possessions — our homes, our children, and our church — in the light of what we owe them, in the light of their eternal future, we shall find the Christian school to he a veritable godsend, the greatest and most blessed help in need.

May the Spirit of Christ prompt all Christian parents to acknowledge the significance of their parental call. May He prompt the fathers to dedicate as much as possible of their time to the home and the domestic sanctuary, to improve the time so dedicated to help lay the cornerstone of salvation with their children, to work patiently and ponder prayerfully for their spiritual upbuilding on the one foundation.

May He prompt the mothers to regard as the sweetest of motherhood to pour out the sincere milk of the Gospel to their children, to banish the miserable and vain imagination that any other “can take the place of mother” in bringing them to Christ.

May He prompt the parents to see how spiritually poor most children leave the parental home, even the Christian home, to see and to welcome the extended helping hand of the Christian school.

May the time be not far distant for our Synod when the “day dawn” for all our homes and the “Day Star” of the Christian school arise in the hearts of all Christian fathers and mothers!