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Bixby Christian School

Bob Bixby, now a homeschool principal, offers some valuable thoughts and critiques of homeschooling as it is commonly practiced.  I think he’s spot on regarding the common homeschool culture and the fierce individualism that are so dangerous to families and churches alike.  Something to consider.

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30 Responses

  1. I am now a homeschooling principal as well, although that may be short-lived. I am about to expel our only two students.

  2. I hear you. On the bright side, it’s not every principal that can smooch on his kids’ teacher. :)

  3. “Smooching the kids’ teacher” is how I got those two in the first place.

  4. Lest anyone get the wrong idea (and before my wife reads what I have written), I am just kidding about our boys. They have done a great job in school this year.

  5. On the positive side, though, at least there are no more deacon kids to be a bad influence on your boys….

  6. (full disclosure–we are homeschoolers)

    Pastor Anderson, I find your response to Pastor Bixby’s article interesting, in part because I found Pastor Bixby’s article quite puzzling. Just what is this “common homeschool culture” to which you and he so strongly react? The article to which you refer appears to me to be painting a large and diverse group of people with a very large broadbrush and, personally, I am weary of the stereotypes. However, I freely acknowledge that perhaps the group of homeschoolers around us in Virginia are very different from the groups of homeschoolers that you and he have encountered in Ohio and Illinois.

    As far as the “fierce individualism,” I wonder how much of that attitude, when it exists, is an overreaction to the ridicule and ostracizing to which many homeschooling families have been subjected in our fundamental churches. Is it really all that surprising that those who have been the objects of public scorn and ridicule as “disloyal” and “unspiritual” for not putting their children into the church’s Christian school should respond so? It seems to me that there are frequently problems which need to be addressed, both with the churches’ and pastors’ attitudes toward homeschoolers and with the attitude of homeschoolers toward their pastor and local church. Neither the local church and its pastors/elders nor the homeschooling families should be treated like the enemy. Both need each other in order to fulfill their Biblical responsibilities for child training and discipleship.

  7. Lyn,

    It is different from a pastor’s perspective. When you try to minister to people at various stages of spiritual development, the questions from prospective families regarding how the families of the church educate their children (with the expectation there should be a unilateral answer of home-based education) can grow tiresome.

    I share the sentiment of the Bixbys that home-based education makes the most sense and is the best option for my family. I will gladly advise people if they seek counsel on how to improve the education of their own children by teaching at home. But I refuse to make this choice a defining trait for fellowship in our assembly.

  8. Lyn,

    It is not homeschooling to which I react. My family homeschools. Many dear families in our church homeschool. I’m all for it.

    However, I’ve also seen the “culture” and “fierce individualism” that I think is dangerous: parents wary of anyone teaching their children except themselves…even in the church; parents who are not only anti-establishment regarding education, but regarding church, groceries, medicine, etc. I’ve had a homeschool/homechurch dad tell me that the church is like a hospital: helpful for those who are from bad backgrounds, but not really necessary for families (like his) who are healthy. I’ve seen families who wouldn’t let their children fellowship with kids from Christian or public schools that attended their own fundamental church, but would spend a great deal of time with Pentecostal friends because they both homeschooled & attended Gothard meetings together. I’ve had a dad say publicly that any choice other than homeschooling is sin. That’s the sort of thing of which I’m wary–and weary. I honestly don’t intend to stereotype, but that sort of thinking that pastors Bixby, Linscott & I are concerned about not only exists; it thrives. I believe it’s bad for families and bad for churches.

    That said, I’m grateful that that mindset is not representative of the dozen or so families in our church who homeschool. They’re very active in the church, they understand that the greatest threat to their children’s spirituality is “in them” and not just “out there,” they’re serious about education (though I continue to be burdened about what can sometimes be an “oh well” attitude toward education), they understand that whether or not they choose to raise goats & chickens or participate in a co-op really isn’t a test of spirituality,etc. To be frank, if people with the kind of mindset I described above come to TCBC, they generally either start focusing on biblical Christianity (which is a great joy) or they move on thinking I’m a Philistine. :) (And that’s happened more than once.)

    Does that make more sense?

  9. Excellent response, Chris. This must be said more often.

    Lyn,

    I am all for homeschooling. I was homeschooled. In fact, I think that I might represent the first generation of homeschoolers that has come to full adulthood. I homeschool my daughter. I love homeschoolers and admire many of them.

    HOWEVER, there is a very disruptive and intimidating mentality that is cultivating in the fast growing, well-represented, highly-visible movement called “homeschoolers.” Though this movement has not academically or theologically actually articulated itself in this way, it has, in too many cases, attitudinally replaced the institution of the local church with the family. You are right to say that both the family and the church need each other. Sadly, homeschoolers too often are redefining what the church should be like and that, too often, is hardly anything more than a religious support group for homeschoolers. Pastors must stand up to the intimidating force of self-righteousness wherever it comes from, even when it comes from homeschoolers.

    Homeschoolers have for too long played the martyrs card. The second criticism is given their way they try to trump the whole thing with woe-is-me-I’m-suffering-for-a-holy-cause then they scurry off to a support group where their rebellion is coddled and encouraged by other people refusing to show grace and submission to that thing God invented for His people – the local church. I think I can speak to the matter, having been homeschooled, and being a supporter of homeschooling and I ditto what Chris said, “To be frank, if people with the kind of mindset I described above come to TCBC, they generally either start focusing on biblical Christianity (which is a great joy) or they move on thinking I’m a Philistine.”

    It’s funny. But homeschoolers are prepared to called homeschoolers “Philistines” when they fail to hold to the movement as a religion.

    I’m sure you are not that way at all, Lyn. But I think you have to acknowledge the fact that pastors are finding this a real problem.

  10. Thanks a lot, guys . . . you’ve just made me realize that we don’t even fit in with homeschoolers (at least not the group of which you speak). Perhaps we should start an internet support group for homeschoolers who believe in the local church, love their pastors and submit to their Biblical authority, use medical doctors, have their babies in hospitals, buy groceries in a grocery store, and do not raise their own goats. :)

    I do want to pass along one thought from a layman’s perspective regarding your comments concerning visitors to your churches who ask your views about homeschooling. Were we visiting your churches as prospective members, we might well ask about your views on homeschooling. We would do so, not for the purpose of getting you to change or convert to our way of thinking, but for the purpose of trying to ascertain how well we would mesh with the established philosophy and practice of your assembly. We might even ask questions about your views on homeschooling before we asked questions about your doctrinal views–not because we think that homeschooling is more important than doctrine, but because we would already have a pretty solid understanding of your doctrinal position before we ever visited your church in the first place. That being said, however, homeschooling is not one of the fundamentals of our faith and should not be the defining criteria of Christian fellowship.

  11. Pastor Bixby, your response was posted while I was wordsmithing and proofreading, and thus I did not see it until after I had posted. However, I do appreciate your thoughts. Your comments, and the comments of Pastor Linscott and Pastor Anderson, have been helpful in more fully understanding pastoral concerns regarding the homeschooling “movement.” One of the benefits that we have received through a wider circle of Christian friends via SI and other blogs has been the ability to gain a broader view of the trends and battles that are taking place in our fundamental churches even outside the realm of our personal experience.

    Belligerence and defiant snobbery on the part of homeschoolers should, in my opinion, be recognized for what it is–rebellion against God-ordained authority. These attitudes need to be dealt with through counseling, discipleship, mentoring, and, if necessary, church discipline.

    Please understand that when I state that homeschoolers and the church each need each other, I do not mean to imply approval of homeschoolers trying to subtly or overtly do an “extreme makeover” of the church in their image. I believe that it is vitally important that we be Berean Christians, continually going back to the Scriptures to be sure that our homes and churches reflect God’s design and fulfill the mandate that God has given us. (And I have listened to and read enough from you to be certain that you agree with this.)

    Finally, I do understand that pastors are having real problems in dealing with homeschoolers. My only concern is that pastors be dealing with the real problems (which are rooted in sin) and not with stereotyped misunderstandings.

    Thoughts?

  12. Lyn,

    As always, you represent yourself well and prove yourself able to grasp the gist of an argument. I appreciate your perspective on the “layman’s” purpose for asking pastors about homeschooling and I agree that that is often the case. Thankfully. But there is, nonetheless, a religious adherence that allows homeschooling to trump everything – the church, pastoral authority, and even biblical doctrine.

    Unfortunately, many (most?) homeschoolers wear their feelings on their sleeves so pastors feel reluctant to speak out against the abusers for fear of losing the sincere. But I think that it must be done. (And I don’t say that lightly. Most of my congregation homeschools. And I respect the way most do it.)

  13. Pastor Bixby, I do agree that sometimes homeschoolers “wear their feelings on their sleeves.” I recognize that I have done so at times. What I hope that you godly pastors can understand is that this reaction sometimes grows out of having been made objects of public scorn and ridicule by fundamental, independent Baptist pastors who truly believe that parents who do not put their children in “his” Christian School are sinning, or at least being disloyal. I don’t say this to justify an overreaction, but merely to say that this type of response can occur for very real reasons that need to be addressed Biblically.

    Having said that, however, let me try to make myself clear: a godly pastor who speaks God’s truth in love to those who hold to a “religious adherence that allows homeschooling to trump everything” including “the church, pastoral authority, and even [B]iblical doctrine” would not “lose me” at all. Actually, he would gain my respect and remind me of a quote from Samuel Pearce that I read on someone’s blog :) defining and describing the role of a godly pastor.

    Are we talking past each other, or are we communicating clearly?

  14. Seems like we’re all agreeing. It’s not the homeschooling that’s the problem…it’s the baggage that sometimes accompanies it. I’m speaking of wrong thinking more so than ideosyncracies which make very little difference in real life. Homeschooling need not bring with it home-churching, etc. When it does, it should be confronted as unbiblical. The Bible does not speak directly to educational decisions; it does speak directly to the centrality of the local church in God’s program and in the Christian’s life.

    That said, if someone wants to raise goats & give birth at home, more power to them. Just don’t think it somehow makes you more godly or insures that you’ll have kids with character.

    And if you take on the enormous resopnsibility of educating your children, do it diligently. Which reminds me: it’s my day off, and 3 young scholars need some help. ;)

  15. Comprende.

    I realize that the Christian School agenda has driven a local church to the point that those who chose not to participate in it were/are treated as non-supportive of the church. That really is a problem – and raises the whole question of whether a church should commit itself to having a school or not. (Something I am not yet decided on in my own mind). I think churches are more negatively affected by their schools than they even realize.

    But that is another subject. I’ll uncork on public school and Christian school another day. When I do all my miffed homeschooling friends will feel vindicated. :-)

  16. Chris Anderson posts: “homeschooling need not bring with it home-churching etc. when it does it should be confronted as unbiblical.”

    How can “home churching” be “unbiblical” when the church met in homes all through the NT epistles AND in the first three hundred years of church history? Oh Pharisees, why do you hold on to man’s traditions so tightly?

    Philemon 2 …and to the church that meets in your house:

    Colossians 4 …and the church in her house.

    Romans 16 …also the church that meets at their house.

    1 Corinthians 16 The churches of (A)Asia greet you (B)Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with (C)the church that is in their house.

  17. Lander,

    A “home church” is not the same as a “church in the house.”

    Let me explain that.

    By “home church” we generally are referring to those who meet in their own home with their own families in lieu of assembling together with other believers. There is usually not church (pastoral) leadership, church discipline, church fellowship, church ordinances, etc. This is “mom and me and our little three” (or more generally our seven or eight :) ).

    The issue is not the meeting location, but the philosophy. After all, Pastor Anderson pastors a church that does not yet have its own building either. The issue is not that the people are meeting in homes (I would imagine that it is likely for at least some services in the history of Pastor Anderson’s church they met in homes as well, since it is a “church plant”, but I am not sure of that).

    I do not know if you have taken time to read much here that Pastor Anderson has written, but to throw out a charge of Pharisee seems a little quick on the trigger. Perhaps you misunderstood what was being referred to, but it would seem that one should exercise great caution in using a term like that.

    FWIW, when I was in my late teens, my parents lived in a house that was used by a church plant as a place to meet. That is not what is being referred to as a “home church.” If you will notice, in your 1 Cor 16 quote, the implication of “the church that is in their house” would clearly indicate more than just Aquila and Priscilla and their family as part of that church. (Otherwise not just say, A & P and their family greet you, for one thing?)

    I hope this clarifies the comment for you a little. Of course, Pastor Anderson is more than able to answer for himself or adjust my answer as he wishes.

    In Christ,

    Pastor Frank Sansone

  18. Thank you, Frank, for a fine response.

  19. Thanks for the response, Frank. Appreciate the time and thought that you put into it.

    I have some additional questions, if you please? Just for clarity.

    How do you define “proper” pastoral leadership?

    How do you define “ordinances”?

    FWIW, Chris Anderson did not specify a definition of house church other than the leap from homeschooler to house church. He went on to charge that it is not “biblical” and needed to be “confronted”. How would anyone come to any other conclusion than that he was slamming the form (born again believers meeting in a home rather than a building set apart for that purpose) and that WOULD be Phariseeism, indeed.

    Unless Anderson is more specific, in the future, he can be counted as expressing himself in an adverserial manner to all those that are meeting in “biblical” house churches. The responsibility for clarity is on Anderson, so as not to stir up any divisions among godly brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t you agree?

  20. Frank,

    Would you have considered it a failed “church plant” if the meeting of believers in your parents home had remained in their home up to this day rather than moving out into a designated building eventually?

    Just wondering?

  21. Lander,

    You asked, “How would anyone come to any other conclusion than than he was slamming the form…”

    Well, because we read his article and know that he was talking about a well-known issue with *some* (not all or most) homeschool groups that have forsaken corporate worship for “church” at home with just their family.

  22. Lander,

    It seems you made the leap from “homeschool” to “house church,” not Chris. He never once mentioned “house church.” Your accusations and harsh words were based completely on your (incorrect) assumption that “home church” was the same thing, when in fact it was not. The responsibility to read more carefully and understand the context more fully before jumping in with guns blazing is on you, don’t you agree?

  23. I’m surprised that my statement was difficult to understand. In fact, I made the following explanation to avoid being misunderstood:

    “The Bible does not speak directly to educational decisions; it does speak directly to the centrality of the local church in God’s program and in the Christian’s life.”

    In other words, the Bible does allow me to educate my children independently of an organized school. It does not allow me to live my Christian life independently of an organized church.

    Notice that I contrasted “the local church” with “home-churching.” I never said anything about location. Indeed, the church I pastor has met in a school, a fine arts center, a community center, a park pavilion, a YMCA, a tent and yes, even in homes. The location is irrelevant.

    In my experience, most who “home-church” (meeting for worship by themselves or with a few select families rather than with an organized assembly) are not reacting against a church building; they’re reacting against spiritual leadership, influence and accountability outside of their family and thus outside of their control. Such a rejection of the church is both rebellious and arrogant, and–as I suggested–must be confronted as unbiblical.

  24. Chris Anderson posts: “In my experience, most who “home-church” (meeting for worship by themselves or with a few select families rather than with an organized assembly) are not reacting against a church building; they’re reacting against spiritual leadership, influence and accountability outside of their family and thus outside of their control. Such a rejection of the church is both rebellious and arrogant, and–as I suggested–must be confronted as unbiblical. ”

    Chris Anderson posts that “most” who home church do so due to rebellion and arrogance. Where do you come by this information and can you verify this? How do you know this to be true of “most” believers who meet in homes with the church? I wonder if those would be considered “harsh words” by Mark Perry’s standard?

    It seems to me, that by your logic, it would be consistant that some could assume that most homeschoolers are in rebellion toward the accountability and leadership of the organized education system by virtue of the fact that they homeschool?

    I stand by my original assertion that born again believers meeting in homes is the New Testament model and judging the hearts of those who exercise this biblical model is indeed, Pharaseeism (or at least sounds arrogant). You cannot possibly be in the homes of those believers to make assumptions about the gatherings (who or how many), leadership or spiritual content of those assemblies, can you?

    Romans 14:4 “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

  25. Lander, you are just being obstinate. Your response totally ignores the points I made in my previous post. I’ll try one more time:

    * I did not criticize “believers who meet in homes with the church.” I criticized believers who meet in homes instead of with the church.

    * No, by my logic, one who home-schools (as I do) is not in rebellion against the organized education system because the Bible does not require that they submit to the organized education system.

    * Those who refuse to submit to the leadership of a local church (regardless of where it meets) are indeed in rebellion because the Bible does require that they submit to the biblically-organized local church.

    The difference between optional school involvement and mandatory church involvement has been explained several times. Why do you refuse to acknowledge it?

    The Bible is not fuzzy regarding what constitutes a local church. A few families gathering for prayer and Bible study is commendable. One family worshipping is commendable. It’s just not a biblically-defined local church.

    If what you are advocating is a body of believers who happen to meet in a home…under the leadership of gifted and God-ordained elders (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5)…being served by deacons (I Timothy 3:8-13)…diligently seeking to evangelize the lost (II Cor. 5:18-20; II Timothy 4:5; Acts 1:8)…eagerly supporting missionaries (Acts 13:1-3; III John 8 )…exercising membership and church discipline (I Corinthians 5)…partaking of the ordinances of the church (I Corinthians 11:23-34; Acts 2:41-42)…benefiting from the gifts of the entire local body (Rom. 12:3-8)…making decisions as a corporate body (Acts 6:3)…earnestly and publicly contending for the faith when it is undermined (Jude 3)…and praying for and earnestly seeking numerical growth as they proclaim the Gospel to their community with an open door (I Timothy 3:15)…fine. That’s the biblical norm (though your insistence that they “meet in homes” is irrelevant).

    On the other hand, if what you are advocating is a few families gathering in private, ignoring biblical patterns of leadership and congregational government, fearing contamination from the less godly (whether Christians or non), hiding from the world rather than standing as a pillar and ground of the truth before the world, maintaining a comfortable “we-four-no-more” mentality rather than urging the lost to come in, that is indeed unbiblical (Hebrews 10:24-25). It is rebellion (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24). It should be exposed as such.

  26. Lander,

    We are talkling a little bit past each other here. I tried to express in my first post that “home churching” is not the same thing as a church meeting in a house.

    “Home churching” the way that it is being used in this context refers to a specific movement – NOT simply to those who use a house as their church building. Perhaps you are taking such great offense because you are not familiar with the “home-churching” movement. To argue in this manner demonstrates that you are unaware of the movement which was being mentioned. That is not a problem. In fact, it is probably a good thing if you have not come into contact with this movement. Many of us, however, have come into contact with this movement. We are not talking about “house churches” (like many believers in China, etc. use), but about those who have decided to withdraw themselves from assembling together with other believers and just meet together as a family (sometimes with one or two other families – usually also related). These groups are BY DESIGN only a select group, isolationist (instead of evangelistic), without church discipline, without church leadership (men qualified acc. to Titus, 1 Timothy, etc. who have pastoral authority and responsibility in the church to “rule well” and labor in the word and doctrine – 1 Tim 5:17), and seeking to eliminate any other influence on their children other than their own family.

    Earlier you asked about “proper” pastoral leadership. I basically answered this in the preceeding paragraph.

    In regards to your question about ordinances, I am referring to the two ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. (An ordinance is something that was instituted by Christ in the Gospels, practiced in the Acts by the early church, and explained in the Epistles.)

    In regards to your comment about Chris and ‘house church” if you read carefully, you will find that he did not mentioned “house church” but “home churching”, which I have tried to explain to you are two different (though similar sounding) entities. I tried to describe what this term meant for you and then Chris tried to define what he meant by the term (which fits in closely with what I described, as well). By the way, the fact that Chris who lives in Ohio, Andy E., who lives in Georgia, and I, who lives in Maryland and ministered until a couple of years ago in New Jersey all understood exactly the same thing regarding what he meant by “home churching” shows that his use of this term was not a poor use of an unclear term in the context of this conversatiion, but rather an easily understood term among those in the conversation, since most of us have been exposed to this movement.

    I hope you understand that I am not trying to come across harshly here, but I do believe that what you think is being said is not really being said and that was is being said is actually “spot on”.

    Thank you for the interraction.

    In Christ,

    Pastor Frank Sansone

  27. Pastor Anderson,

    I was writing my post while you were writing your, apparently. Please feel free to remove mine, as yours is much better anyway.

    Have a good night.

    In Christ,

    Pastor Frank Sansone

  28. Frank,

    You can add “Kris in Michigan” to the list, too!

  29. Thanks for taking the time to explain this, guys. I get it, now. Lord, have mercy on us all.

  30. That was a happy conclusion.

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