Last Updated on July 26, 2018

My mom, a public school teacher, often declared “I’m the only Jesus many of these children ever see.”  And she would remind my siblings and me that we were representing Christ to our classmates. Now as a parent, my husband and I have chosen to send our children to public school for the same reason. In making this decision, we have declared our children’s school to be our mission field.

Preparing our kids for school involves a lot more than buying pens, paper, and new shoes.  We invest a lot of time preparing them for their spiritual mission.  Every morning before getting up we encourage our kids to spend time with a personal devotional book and reading the Bible.  Breakfast includes a character-building story for kids and Bible verse to equip them for the day.  We spend time in prayer during the drive to school.  After school, the children take turns sharing something good that happened and something “not so good.”  We praise God for the good and discuss how the “not so good” could be improved.  Several nights a week we have a Bible study after dinner.  They are later tucked into bed with prayer.

At the beginning of the school year I ask the teacher how I can be involved in the classrooms.  I play games at parties, read with children and help administer reading tests, volunteer at the school carnival, and make copies for the teachers.  When I had a baby at home and could not be as involved at the school, I stuffed treat bags at home for parties, cut out projects for the teachers, and coordinated help for school events.   By establishing a relationship with my children’s teachers and the other students, I earn trust.  During small interactions with the students I look them in the eye to praise them for their hard work.  I have listened and prayed with teachers during difficult times.

We have had to learn about bullies, kids asking to cheat on tests, bad language and immodesty.   I’m thankful that my children communicate their struggles with us and it has directed much of our Bible study during the year.  Together, we read what Scripture says about friends who gossip about us, why we don’t watch the latest violent movie and why we should be honest about our school work.  Our children are learning how to share their faith and values and have invited other kids to church with them.

Public school can have negative influences but is rich in opportunities to show Christ to our kids’ teachers and classmates.  After all, we may be the only Jesus they see.

[verse reference=”John 17:15-17″]I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.[/verse]

What is your family’s mission and how do you prepare your children to live out the Gospel?

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  1. Our children our grown but this brought back memories of how our home was as we reared our children through the public school system. Each year we would take some fun loaves of quick breads for the teacher's lounge the week before school started while the teachers are there without the students. It included a card that we were praying for their year. Many times, even in high school, at parent teacher conferences, teachers remembered and thanked us.

    1. What a great way to bless the staff, Carolyn! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I sure hope this works for you…70 % of children raised in a Christian home going to public school fall away…I know before we homeschooled our 8 yr old daughter was introduced to porn, gay lifestyle and the f___ word all in one day…Now they are adults and love the Lord and there was just so many advantages to keeping them out of the public schools…

    1. Thank you for 'stopping by,' Francine. I would love to hear how your family shared the love of Christ with others in your daily life.

  3. I LOVE this post, Julia! A lot of what you said reminded me of how my parent's raised my brother sister and I. We grew up in a Christian home too and we went to public school from Fifth Grade- High School. (first four years in Catholic school). Trust me, my parent's felt the exact same way. They were missional.. and their first mission was to fill us with the truth and enlighten us in the word and help us establish a relationship with Christ so that we can be the light into the world. I believe it's all about how dedicated you are to encouraging them to make the right decisions– and what better way than to do everything you just mentioned! Love, Love, Love this Julia!!!!!

    1. Intentional discipleship is so neccessary for our children, at every age and stage! Thanks for the encouragement, Kennisha!

  4. Julia, there are so many different opinions on this subject! I really appreciate all that you said, and your experiences mirror my own. My children go to a public school. Through that we have met so many different types of people. God has given our family a ministry in so many different ways through this, not just to the teachers and students, but also to their families. For us, this has been a huge blessing.
    Everyone is different. We are called to different means of interacting with the world God has given us and the people in it. Thank you for encouraging those of us who have children in the public schools. Love you, sister!

    1. You are such a blessing to me, Jenn! I love seeing the families of my children's classmates at church now as well as some of the staff.

  5. I can't help but wonder why "mission minded" parents don't send their kids to Islamic schools, or Mormon schools or any other type of schools. Why is it only public schools? Is it possible it is one of those christian things people do to make themselves feel good? Kinda like the "look at me I am a good person because put a quarter in the red kettle" people.
    Your kids are being taught a world view 8hrs a day. All that time they are under a teacher that they are taught to respect and submit to, and you expect them to believe you over the teacher when there is a disagreement between the two of you? You have a thinking error when you expect a child to be a missionary to the world by sitting under their authority 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week.

    1. Thought-provoking questions, Shiphrah. Though I believe any kind of schooling become a source of pride if our goal is to exalt our selves. The intention was not to exalt one kind of schooling over another. Just to share how we prepare our children for what we believe our family is called to do. I would enjoy hearing how you prepare your children to share their faith with the world.

    2. Shiprah,

      The school is a mission field. I came from a broke family and by the time I reached high school I was a mess! I somehow became friends with the most Christian girl at our school. I use to try to bring her down with me but her parents raised her right. She stood her ground and more I importantly she showed me Jesus through her love and never judged me or made me feel less. If her parents home schooled her I never would have met her and I never would have gotten saved.

      The school is a mission field.

  6. I plan to put my children in Christian bible teaching school becuase of not wanting her to be introduced to homosexuality, abortion, sex education etc at a young tender age, I would def want the school they attend to be an extension of what they learn, hear and see at home so that there is no confusion in their mind about what we teach them at home. Peer pressure and social pressure do not get easier as they grow so I would want them to be surrounded by biblical teaching and beliefs and values for as long as they can be. . The LORD calls each person to minister in different ways in different places. Obviously they take alot of time to ARM them with the WORD severeal times a day, and talk about what is going on in school etc. The LORD may send muslim, hindu, mormon or atheist children into this family's lives.If the public school is Julia and her fmaily's mission field, then it is what it is.

    1. Thank you. We have been blessed with friendships of atheists, Hindu, and Mormon! And the Gospel is being shared. Public school does have challenges but as you noted, our children are covered in the Word, prayer and filled with the Holy Spirit as believers. Your children will also have opportunities to share the Gospel, even in a Christian school. What is your family's mission field?

      1. :))
        our mission field?? For now, its right where we day at a time, trying to lift up teen girls at church, or our weary Muslim, Hindu or Christian friends that we have known for almost a lifetime..praying for their salvation at the same time….all of them so precious and dear to us……BUT one day, the LORD is going to send us to Niger..that is going to be our mission field..

        1. When my older children were young, I struggled with feeling a lack of purpose or a ministry. An older wiser man asked me to examine my life and find my pulpit where I was. That really challenged me to look around at where God had me and make that my mission. Later He did call our family away from our roots to minister to others. And even in full-time ministry we have seeked to continue to spread the Gospel in our everyday lives, outside of formal ministry. Sounds like you are doing the same. Bless you!

          1. That's very encouraging, thank you!! It is good to know that the day is really coming….We go thru that 'feeling useless' stage often as well…was just thinking about this verse this morning: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction 2Tim 4:2. Asking the LORD to help me know the right words at the right time for the whomever HE chooses to send our way.. Thank you, Julia. God bless you and your family as well!

  7. I love seeing the Body of Christ at work in different families, and I'm so glad your kids are out there being salt and light, Julia. May your family continue to be Jesus to their world wherever He shows you! I've seen you do this, and I have no doubt :).

  8. Thanks for sharing your heart Julia! Your family always searches for ways to love others well…you are an inspiration to many! Our family has chosen public, homeschool and private – and in each of those settings we have had opportunity to witness to others and share God's love. Blessings to you!

  9. Mimi Newman says:

    Wonderful testimony to a family intentional in their love for Christ, for family & for the witness to which Christ calls all of us! I am a public school teacher for more than 25 years. But more importantly I am a lover of Jesus and his follower. I truly believe that my mission field of the185+ students I see on a daily basis in my classroom reaches more young souls than I could ever hope to influence elsewhere! My own children (now 22, 18 & 11) also attended public schools. There were so many days we had discussions on how to love those different from us, the hurting, the unloved….. Keep pressing on!!

  10. barbara rainey says:

    The choice of where and how parents educate their children is always significant. There are no right or wrong choices if we have our childrens best in mind. Parents are passionate about their choices and they should be. A half-hearted decision isn't wise. With all that said thanks, Julia, for writing your post because we need Christian families who do feel led to the public schools. It was our choice for our children as well. And because we were intentionally involved in every aspect of our childrens' journey through the public schools we had a significant influence on their teachers, administrators and their friends. We wanted our children to see the world as it is with rich and poor, black and white and asian and hispanic, smart and average and, in our high school, handicapped children, and to know how to reach out to them all. All of our children are adults and all are walking with Christ. None of our children were negatively influenced by the atmosphere of our public school. Tempted to be sure, but we walked through all of that and helped them learn to face those difficult choices while they still lived at home with us. They each did well in college and are facing the real world as adults with faith and continually growing belief in the truth of Christ.

  11. Cindy Blunier says:

    Great article, Julia. I admire your philosophy of parenting and of equipping your kids and teaching them that wherever they are and in whatever circumstance they have the opportunity to represent Christ. We also chose to public school our 4 girls and every morning as they ran out the door to catch the bus my husband would remind them to "Go M.A.D.!!" (Make A Difference). And I think they have.

    We did many of the same things you recommended in this article and it is amazing the opportunities that God gave us and our kids to be salt and light in the public school system. I'd do it again if I was making that choice today.

  12. Sue Birdseye says:

    I love how God uses all our families in different ways! I love that saying that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us! He has a perfect plan for all of our families and how beautiful that no two are the same! Thank you for sharing how God is using your family and equipping you for His calling!

  13. Michelle L says:

    What an encouraging article. I have been praying in the school yard with my son before he heads in, its more that just habit, it is THE way to start the day. Thanks for the other ideas of how to support teachers as well, just what I was looking for. Our family truly believes we are in the house, street, neighbourhood etc, that God has chosen for us. We feel so honoured to serve Him. Blessings to you!