In 1994, Christian Heritage School of Longview was established by a local pastor and several like-minded families who shared a vision for reclaiming the excellence of a classic American education. In the beginning, CHS was housed in several different rented facilities. Through prayer, sacrifice and God's generous blessings, CHS now occupies its own campus on ten acres, enjoys the support of families through an active parent involvement program, and has reached 286 in enrollment, representing over 180 families and 40 local churches.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish, but happy is he who keeps the law.” Proverbs 29:18
Solomon learned from experience that “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1) Every new work of God (a church, a ministry, a school) begins with a vision, a God-given vision. We dare not build where God has not provided clear vision and where He Himself has not labored. If this is true, we must ask the critical question, how does one know if he or she is building in vain or not? Are success and failure sufficient determinants? Consider insight from an often misunderstood proverb. “Where there is no vision, the people perish, but happy is he who keeps the law.” The New American Standard better translates the proverbial idea being communicated. “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, …” That is, they go their own way, with no guiding light, no governing principle, and ultimately deviate from the path set by God. The wise sayer intends for us to understand vision as being revelation of God’s law (But happy is he who keeps the law). In short, it is a moral vision that the biblical writer has in view. If we amplify this proverb it would read
" Where there is no vision (no revelation of God’s law) the people are unrestrained (they go their own way; they become a law unto themselves), but happy is he who keeps the law (the will of God)."
If there is any application of this proverb to our school, it is this – without knowing and embracing the moral vision that God has given to CHS, we as a people will be unrestrained (taking the school in multiple directions) and suffer the gradual demise of our school. To answer the previously stated question, vain labor is that which deviates from God’s will, God’s heart, God’s law. We may build a tower of Babel and falsely conclude it is not in vain because it stands. But if we are prudent, we will seek to know God’s mind, aim at His moral standards, build where He is building, and guard jealously the vision He has given us.
Does CHS have a vision? What are the school’s fundamental values? When did it start and why? Have you asked these questions about the school in which you have placed your child(ren)? This first article will address these questions generally and with brevity, but the newsletter itself will be a running commentary on the vision, values, and principles of CHS as we continue to grow year by year.
In the Beginning…
I remember well the beginnings of Christian Heritage School. The seeds for this venture were planted in me in 1986 as I attended a Bible school on the same campus of a private Christian school that was philosophically grounded in the Principle Approach (our school’s educational philosophy). Beth was pregnant with our first child, and I was studying for the ministry. I recall the day I walked in and told my wife that one day our children were going to attend a Principle Approach school. Little did I know that I would help found and pioneer such a school. Seven years later at our kitchen table (1993) with my friend and co-founder Rick Tingle, we began drafting our plans for the new school.
Proverbs 16:9 states, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Not wanting to err in our plans, but to follow God-given direction for each step we took, we devoted this project to much prayer. We spent many early mornings praying and many late nights at the kitchen table discussing and defining the school’s core values, which eventually crystalized into some very clear goals for Christian Heritage School. First, we wanted it to be academically strong and challenging, with high standards and goals of performance. We wanted our students to rank nationally above ninety percent on standard achievement tests. One goal that was paramount: All of our graduating students would be academically equipped, motivated, and enrolled in college.
Many variables play a key role in the academic success of an educational institution such as good teachers (gifted, trained, and motivated), active parents (caring and involved), and a strong vision (unifying teachers, students, and parents) just to name a few. But three variables stood out to us as being indispensable to the fulfillment of the vision of this school: a strong reading foundation (phonics-based program, Writing Road to Reading), Principle Approach educational philosophy, and a moral climate conducive to the development of Christian Character. It is this last one that is really the subject of this article. We wanted the students at CHS to excel academically, athletically, artistically, musically, but most certainly morally.
Christian Heritage School as a Christian Community
It was our desire to create an environment where our children could flourish morally and spiritually as they prepare for not just a profession but a calling. We envisioned a training ground for instilling moral principles and the formation of Christian Character. The school would be a place of refuge that would shelter our children from the forces which would tend to erode the beliefs, values, attitudes, and convictions we firmly hold as parents. One of the bedrock objectives in founding CHS was to create an extended community for families with shared values. Parents may send their children to a private school for different reasons: safety, academic standards, parental control, or prestige. But Christian Heritage School was established primarily to serve families who embrace its God-given vision and its biblically-based values. By values we mean attitudes, convictions, and practices that are derived from the Bible (concerning movies, issues of respect, boy/girl relationships, dating, etc.). CHS is not a BIG TENT! Rather, it is a community for like-minded parents who share similar convictions and strive for common goals.
It is families covenanting with one another in the education of their children, but the fruits of such an endeavor exceed mere academic progress. In one way or another, we are immersing our families together into the same moral and spiritual pool. When parents place their child(ren) in CHS, they are introducing both the positive and negative traits and influences of their own child to their respective classmates. In return, their child is being exposed to the positive and negative influences of other children which attend the school. Consequently, each of our homes is affected by these relational influences. If our children discover that their friends or classmates have contrary attitudes, weaker convictions, or divergent practices, it creates unnecessary tension in the home. It further places parents in the difficult position of how to explain why their practices are different and to do so without judging the other families. Furthermore, it can create resentment in children who feel restricted from the “privileges” of fellow classmates. We would expect such dilemmas in a public school environment, but this need not be the case at CHS. Christian Heritage School was founded on the principle that a family may find refuge and protection from the present culture’s assault on our values by uniting with other families who share our convictions, follow similar practices, and understand the difficulty (but necessity) of raising godly kids. Much in our current culture stands opposed to Jesus Christ, the Bible, and our God-given authority as parents. We recognize that we cannot foster perfectly pristine conditions, but we can minimize the discontinuity between families if we strive for common goals and standards.
Since all of our children are influenced by one another, it stands to reason that we as families are all aided if we have some commonly held convictions and practices. Furthermore, each of us as families has the moral responsibility to understand and honor the values, morals, and expectations of our school and its families.
Let me approach this another way. The apostle Paul exhorts, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2).” Two other apostles, John and James, concur when they state, “…whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4),” and “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him (I John 2:15).” From these we learn that the world is at enmity with God. God has a will and a way for our lives, but the world is a formidable foe against our souls and it stands as an affront to God’s will for our lives.
The world may be defined as worldliness (sinful living), worldly views (adopting a philosophy or worldview that is counter to Christianity), and worldly patterns (culturally accepted mores like tolerance, working on Sundays, etc.). We are quick to recognize worldliness in people who are given to drug abuse, lying, stealing, cheating, and many other overt sinful behaviors. But often we as Christians do not discern the influences of our own culture (unbiblical worldview) on our daily lives. For example, we take many of our cues from the world – the way in which we structure our home life, how we approach work and career, etc. What about our convictions concerning movies, TV, and music? Often our values and attitudes reflect more those of our culture than those of the Bible. What do we believe concerning issues of pride (success), idolatry (sports, things, beauty), pleasure (entertainment, dating), and much more? Do we shun the overt behaviors, while taking a casual, laze-faire attitude towards the patterns, ambitions, and ideas of our culture? Scripture charges us not to be conformed to this world. The world is not passive therefore we cannot afford to be. We must take a determined stance against it or be forced into its mold. Glory be to God when we have families, friends, churches, and even schools that will back us up when we do.