Note from MinistryPlace: Vicki Williams is a Pastor’s wife in a rural community in Missouri, mother of seven, and a homeschool mom. She will be joining as a Featured Writer in 2014. We wanted to give you an early taste of what is coming…
When you think of homeschooling the last thing you think of is ministering to them. Most think they either have it all together or don’t consider them at all in ministry. Homeschoolers, who generally keep to themselves, are their own people group in our communities. There are three basic categories of Homeschooling Families that we have come across in our 17 years of ministry.
1. The Disenchanted Homeschool Family. This family is seeking a church because they are disenchanted with the fruit they see from Churches today. They are usually homeschooling for this reason as well. They are unhappy with the mass exodus of young people from their faith, the lack of morality among the younger generations and the lack of quality of education both in the church and the school system. When they visit a church they are seeking three things: something for their children that isn’tt all fluff, fruit from the ministry and a place to serve. They are less concerned with programs for adults as they are with something that appeals to their children and family as a whole. They are looking for sound doctrine, simplicity, and family centeredness. They aren’t looking to be “salt” in their church, necessarily, though they are eager to see people come to the Lord. They are looking for like minded families and good christian influences on their kids. They aren’t afraid of lost people but they do not prefer “worldliness” in the church. They are looking to be equally yoked but don’t think that everyone in a church needs to be perfect. They are willing to except minor differences as long as they agree on major things. This family needs good old meat and potatoes in your services not processed junk food. The meat and potatoes don’t have to be gourmet but they should be organic. The Disenchanted homeschooler can be vital to your ministry as they are servant hearted and love the Lord. They are the ones you can always count on for committees and special events. They will keep you on your toes theologically and be your best prayer warriors.
2. The Fearful Homeschool Family. This family is homeschooling their children as a direct result of some horrible thing they’ve seen or experienced in the world. The care very much about the fruit in your church. They are NOT interested in reaching the lost in their congregation or community. They will question everything in your ministry. They will not appreciate rap or rock concerts, lock-ins, over night camps, or couches in the youth room. They will seem quite judgmental, but in reality mean well, and just want the best environment for their children. Like the Disenchanted Homeschool Family– the Fearful Homeschool Family needs to see the meat and potatoes in your ministry. They will come for the fruit initially but the organic barebones of your ministry is what will keep them there. The Fearful Homeschool family needs to be shown a grace filled church and that the world is NOT as scary as they make it out to be. They need to see that one can love a lost person with out conforming to his or her values. On the other hand they will be valuable input into any ministry as you pray and consider their views. Sometimes in the name of being relevant we let go of some of our values and a fearful homeschool family can bring some of these things to light.
3. The White Washed Tomb. My third and final example of homeschool families is the White Washed Tomb. These families show their faith by their clothing, extensive biblical knowledge and/or strict adherence to some facet of “the law”. While the other two categories of homeschoolers will also have some of these traits the White Washed Tomb is loud and opinionated and will certainly tear down a church before they build it up. They are known for changing the outward appearance and being less concerned about issues of the heart. Their children will be some of the politest, most intelligent and well versed children you know. But they will also be very prudish and quick to judge others. These families have done everything “right” and see others who live differently as very “wrong” and often are very proud about it. They are not able to see that Christianity can be lived out any differently from the way they do things. Often times we find these families lacking a saving relationship with Jesus Christ all together. White Washed Tombs are very challenging to deal with but are the homeschool family we truly need to focus our attention to. Their children are the ones who generally turn from religion altogether or continue to breed the same pompous, christless christianity that leads many down the road of saying “Lord, Lord” and Christ never knowing them. This is where our ministry finds its biggest challenge. Loving those who proclaim the law, know the scripture better than ourselves at times, and do not understand Gods saving grace.
As Homeschooling grows in its popularity I’m sure some of these “stereotypes” will change. I have seen a few secular homeschoolers and that is a whole different ball game. In our churches we’ve seen these three categories numerous times and have felt the challenge of meeting their needs and helping them to grow in the Lord.
What kinds of homeschoolers do you encounter in your church?