And I Thought This Was a Christian School

I love Surrey Christian School!  Because of its unique and faithful voice in Christian Education,    I have spent much of my working life at this school.  I love this place and these teachers so much that my wife and I, who have no prior experience in Christian Education, are willing to make sacrifices so that our children have an opportunity to go to SCS.  Further, I love Surrey Christian School for its willingness to engage the “highs” and “lows” of life.

A large portion of my work is centered on student life at the secondary campus.  I spend much time walking with students through times of personal or communal crisis.  Sometimes the crisis begins at home and transfers into school life and sometimes the crisis begins at school and transfers into life at home.   Whatever the brokenness, I feel a strong conviction to walk with students and parents on a journey of acknowledging hurt and longing for healing, a taste of His kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. 

When I look back on my journey into Christian education, I remember seeing and hearing stories of brokenness at our school, and saying “And I thought this was a Christian school”.  Over the last number of months I have heard that same question asked of me as I sit with parents concerned about drugs, bullying, theft, litter, fighting, exclusion, tagging, lying, etc.  

What exactly was I asking when I said “And I thought this was a Christian school”? And what are parents hoping when they ask the same question?  I think that I had an expectation of what Christians were supposed to be like, and that because we are Christians, we have this pressure to be perfect.  Unfortunately, a significant amount of mainstream Christian thinking inundates us with the idea that we have to have it all together. 

I think that what I was suggesting when I asked, “And I thought this was a Christian school” was that students in a Christian school do not lie, and they definitely do not bully, steal, use drugs, fight, and litter or exclude others.  The expectation that I had 18 years ago, and that I believe many parents either consciously or subconsciously have for a Christian school today is that we have mysteriously achieved a state of being without sin. 

But wait a second; we know this is not a faithful understanding of the scriptures.  We know that Romans 3:23 acknowledges that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  The unfolding story in the Bible repeatedly speaks to men and women that had fallen, and were later credited as righteous.  Whether Moses, Noah, David, Solomon, Jonah, Peter, or Euodia and Syntiche, the list of transgressions is long and hurtful.  And yet, God saw fit to count them in the book of life.  Their transgressions ranged from doubt, drunkenness, adultery, murder, denial, quarrelling, and the list goes on.  What would it look like to have had these men and women of the Bible at Surrey Christian School?  Would we say “And I thought this was a Christian school”?

A self-examination of church life, family life, and let’s make it personal, our very own lives, will clearly tell us that we have fallen short.  With this in mind, it’s crucial for us to understand that we are on a journey to one day being fully restored.  As we stand in the “already but not yet”, we have opportunities to participate in bringing about the kingdom of God every time that we participate in a broken situation.  We also have opportunities to try, to the best of our abilities, to “make things right”.   As a Christian community, we can aim to create spaces where the wolf will live with lamb, where the leopard will lie down with the goat, and where the infant will play near the hole of the cobra (Isaiah 11). 

Am I suggesting that it’s okay to bully, steal, use drugs, fight, litter or exclude others?  Absolutely not!  Do these hurts occur in our school?  Yes.  As much as is possible for us, we strive to participate in the restoration of all people.  Undoubtedly, the process of restoration is, at times, challenging, and sometimes SCS is not the place where this restoration occurs.  For me recently, this realization has been a process of letting go and trusting that God will use others outside our community to touch the lives of both our own students as well as the ones that have moved on.  As such, our vision to become fully alive in God’s story can more fully be realized when we are willing to walk through our own and other peoples shortcomings, and accept His longing to restore all people.

Mark Nill
Assistant Principal – Secondary Campus

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