Friday, May 22, 2009

Thankful for Westminster Christian Academy

Today Westminster has a short social gathering for yearbook signing and a picnic to end the school year.

My wife and I cherish Westminster Christian Academy for many reasons. Shari went to a solid Christian school growing up where her father taught and still teaches and she received a solid biblical foundation that serves her (and us) continually. I went to a public school that was absolutely counterproductive to my spiritual growth. Shari has her degree in elementary education and taught full time at a small Christian school while I was in seminary. She taught part time at Westminster in some capacity for our first 11 years here (we just finished our 12th year at Redeemer) and will very likely teach there again in the future. We talked about many things before we got married, but a particular point of passionate agreement was our commitment to have our children in a solid Christian school as part of their discipleship. We didn't care what financial sacrifice would have to be made, we would do whatever was necessary to make it happen.

When I had the opportunity to come to Redeemer in 1997, Redeemer had less than 100 attenders and WCA had 8 or 9 students. I was so encouraged to see a church start a school so early in it's life, it was clear Redeemer was philosophically committed. A school will not grow your church, it just doesn't. Humanly speaking it is a huge risk to do what Redeemer did. When I saw the model, Shari and I both knew Redeemer is where we wanted to be. I concede there are many ways to faithfully carry out God's discipleship mandate for our children, but I can't think of a better assistance for the training of our sons than by utilizing this tremendous ministry of our church.

Earlier today I prayed thanking God for our church and school. Particularly regarding WCA, I was recounting why I love the ministry so much-

1. Westminster faithfully reinforces what our family and church are trying to teach our sons through it's curriculum, godly administration, teachers, coaches, and general culture of the community.

2. Westminster gives my sons exposure to various academic disciplines as well as specialized opportunities like sports, music, art, etc.
3. Westminster is under the authority of a solid, faithful church, and so maintains a doctrinal and philosophical standard that has been unwavering- by God's grace alone. Further, being one of the three pastors at Redeemer, I am actively involved with the daily happenings of the school as are Nathan and Brian. We rotate leading worship in chapel weekly and Brian teaches bible in the upper grades. I was even tagged to lecture our 9th graders on Church history several times. Coaching soccer at WCA may be my favorite activity of all. The point is, WCA isn't a school that meets at Redeemer, it's Redeemer's school. I just spent an hour on Monday sitting in a fourth grade class answering all sorts of awesome questions like "What will our resurrection bodies be like"? Just plain awesome.

4. Westminster holds to the full inspiration and authority of God's Word and integrates the Scriptures in all subject areas. The bible is our (the) lense for interpreting the world.
5. Westminster serves as an intense laboratory for living out the biblical principles my sons are learning as they interact with their teachers and fellow students regularly.

6. Westminster is helping my boys learn cooperation- how to get along with people that aren't exactly like them, to practice peace in a body of believers, and to be submissive to the authority God has placed in their life beyond us.

7. Westminster, being a microcosm of the larger church, possesses the same weaknesses and sins each of us battle, but it offers the opportunity to address these issues immediately and biblically. There are multiple opportunities for biblical repentance and restoration between believers. I witness the reality of this in my boys spiritual growth regularly. So many opportunities for real-life, spiritual growth occur regularly at WCA.

8. Westminster doesn't turn away any child of Christian parents for financial reasons which is part of what keeps it from becoming some kind of prep school that happens to be "Christian". Sure, Redeemer and WCA are located in an upper middle class suburb where there seems to be people with lots of money, however I have seen consistent and constant generosity on the part of those who have more to help those who have less. That's how my children are able to attend. Finances are often given as the excuse for why people don't send their children to a solid Christian school- it is expensive to run a school-however I am sure we are working diligently to make this much less of a factor at WCA. WCA is definitely not making a profit doing what it does and accomplishes alot more with half the money the public school spends to "educate" students.

9. Westminster has a diversity of families from various evangelical churches which gives students wonderful exposure to fellow Christians and presents a peaceful cooperative Christian effort to the wider KC community. Redeemer clearly steers the doctrinal and philosophical ship, but we're extremely happy to have brothers and sisters in Christ from multiple denominations come join our effort to train up our children with a biblical worldview.

10. Westminster helps me, as a pastor, to speak all the more boldly about the biblical responsibility to raise our children in the Lord and for the Lord with a biblical worldview.

Listen, I don't have a Pollyanna view of any organization that has sinful people like me involved- be it my family, church, or school. I've seen alot in my 12 years of pastoral ministry. Very little about people shocks me any more. There are plenty of challenges any school experience will present and stuff happens that might surprise and even disappoint us. If we're honest however, the same things can be said of our homes and churches. Such is the reality of sin and sinners and the constant need for the gospel. Still, overall, when I think of Westminster my heart floods with thanks to God for the tangible discipleship tool it has become in the life of my family.

May all glory be unto God!


Frontier Forest said...

Every single day, never taking for granted, I rejoice in each precious life that is being molded, crafted and grafted into Christ through the powerful Biblical teachings at Redeemer and through the curriculum being lovingly taught by each dedicated teacher at Westminster Christian Academy. I often reflect, (more like lament) on what it could have been like then and therefore be much different today, if I would have made the sacrifice to send my 2 kids to a Christ-centered school such as Westminster. My son Tate is living for the Lord and he blesses the socks off me and Cheri. But it seems my daughter has all but rejected her “said-faith” and is very angry at anything that has to do with church and wants to argue with any person who mentions the Lord. So I pay the consequences for my ignorance or selfishness or both. I don’t want to appear to be condescending, or judgmental, but I am amazed that any Christian family wouldn’t do whatever it takes to enroll their children in such a school like Westminster. I want to say to parents, who are satisfied sending their most precious gift from God to be brainwashed with garbage from an anti-god, anti-Christian, secular worldview environment, “What are you doing to “train up your children in the way they should go?”

Nathan said...

Amen! I too am thankful and agree 110%

Rick Calohan said...

As a member or Redeemer Presbyterian I am grateful and Praise God for Westminster Academy and look forward to the day that John (our son) and any future siblings of his shall attend.

If I am not mistaken I know Shari is from a Mennonite (Anabaptist) background, and that you (Tony) were raised Roman Catholic and by His Grace in your heretic/schismatic way started to attend I presume the same church with Nathan at Bible Presbyterian Church in Grand Island, NY. If I am still not mistaken you and Nathan along with Shari and Janey met at Moody Bible College.

I know Divine Providence has made it possible that all four of you attend and serve at the same church & school, along with your parents now being with you with and your wonderful children if which I think would make for a great book someday (a working title perhaps “The Covenant Family” comes to mind.)

I guess my question is how did a former Roman Catholic woo a former Anabaptist and became two wonderful stewards of the Reform faith at Redeemer Presbyterian and Westminster Academy? (If you say by Divine Grace and Providence I will understand) just curious which probably killed the Rodentnator.