Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Become a Teacher to Become a Witness

I want in this blog to encourage students who are not called to the pastorate but who want to do ministry to consider teaching in a public school. The work will be hard, costly, and spiritually challenging, but it will all be worth it. You will be a witness in a dark place.

Many of us get stuck regarding ministry and vocation. We'd love to be a witness in our work, but we're not sure where to go. To any students or young people considering how best to be a vocational witness, I encourage you to think strongly about teaching in a public school. Very few other disciplines will place you in such a direct and important position in an unbelievers' life. You will spend hour upon hour with lost students and have countless opportunities to show how a Christian lives and to do what a Christian does. You will leave an impression on your students that will not quickly fade. You can coach them, instruct them, discipline them, and play a formative role superceded only by that of their parents. Any appraisal of this idea shows that it is a powerful one indeed.

I would encourage gospel-minded Christians to go to the hard places of the world. Go to the inner city and become a teacher. Live cheaply, love lavishly, and minister faithfully. Become a good teacher, master your curriculum, and find lots of ways to connect with students. Make yourself a very meaningful presence in their lives. Go to their games, their concerts, their art shows. Invite them to functions outside of school. Tutor those who are academically needy. In these ways and many others, invest in the hordes of lost children that populate our nation's schools. Most importantly, whenever you can, discreetly and clearly share the gospel. Be shrewd about your gospel-sharing. You'll need to be careful, but carefulness does not cancel out shrewdness. Be courageous, and share the gospel when students ask questions or seek to get to know you. You can do so discreetly and wisely. An incredible missions opportunity beckons the Christian desirous of gospel service and hungry for a challenge. Don't throw away your twenties working in an unchallenging, unfulfilling job. Sign up to teach, and invest in the only thing that will last for eternity: people. Seek not simply to train minds, but to save souls. Become a teacher for no other reason than to become a witness.


Blogger Benjamin said...

Hey Owen,

Great thoughts. I really appreciate this, having seen so many examples of the great need for good teachers in Detroit, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Louisville.

One thing I might add... I would really like to see churches making more significant outreach efforts through the medium of education. Many inner-city families are desperate for alternative (meaning not the public school) educational environments, and Catholic schools are often the only other choice. I think disciplined, focused, Christ-centered schools in inner city environments could be a huge value. In Detroit, for instance, the school system is in such desperate straits that the liberal mayor has issued a call requesting charter and religious schools to come into the city (which formerly was much more protective of public school turf), and I think that would be a great way to reach out to that population.

2:20 PM  

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