Value-Added Christianity

For the longest time, I thought that my passion for teaching and my faith were independent of each other. I thought that there were two different parts of my life that didn’t pertain to each other: my professional life and my personal life.

I was wrong. You can’t separate out parts of yourself any more than we can ignore the impact that political and popular discourse is having on theology and faith. My previous post related the potential dangerous impact that a value-added teacher evaluation system has on education. This system is also dangerous because it is infiltrating our churches. It’s not uncommon for me to hear parents relay not only their children’s school achievements, but also their church achievements. “My son/daughter was on the Honor Roll all year, got perfect attendance in Sunday School and memorized 100% of his/her Bible verses this year.” Are we really encouraging definitions of “good” Christians that match the unrealistic definition of a “good” student?

I would argue yes. The comments I hear from Church members and youth workers about children and youth like “He’s a solid guy,” or “She never misses a Sunday morning or Wednesday night” sound eerily familiar to our end of year teacher valued-based comments. As teachers, we are getting away with labeling what makes “good” student as what makes us most comfortable and is least challenging to our methodology and personal teaching philosophy. As church goers, we are getting way with labeling what constitute a “good” Christian as what makes us, as adults, most comfortable and is least challenging to our personal theology.

While it may makes our lives appear more put together and safer for the time being, we are treading on dangerous ground. Rather than teaching our children and youth to be Christ followers, we are teaching them to conform to societal expectations. This value-added Christianity doesn’t bode well for the future of the church!