I recently attended the annual conference hosted by the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA). CESA is a 12-year-old organization that serves some of the most prestigious Christian schools in the country. In fact, membership standards are so rigorous that only 50 schools have qualified for Member of Council status, including two of my former schools, Hill Country Christian School of Austin and Legacy Christian Academy of Frisco, TX.
This year’s conference attracted 550 Christian school leaders from over 100 schools, which makes it one of the largest Christian school conferences in the nation. One of the reasons I choose to attend each year is that the quality of speakers and workshops are top notch. The keynote speakers include some of the top thought leaders in the Christian faith. One such speaker was David Kinneman, CEO of The Barna Group and author of several bestselling books, including Good Faith, You Lost Me, and unChristian. In his address, entitled “The Open Generation” he shared the findings of a survey administered by The Barna Group of Gen Z teenagers across the globe. Almost 25,000 teens from 26 countries were asked their views about Jesus, the Bible, and making an impact. Here are a few of the conclusions about today’s teens revealed in the survey.
- This generation is marked by openness
- They want their faith firmly planted in the real world
- They are searching for identity and fighting anxiety
- They don’t merely want to know that Christianity is true, they also want to see that Christianity is good and beautiful
- They are justice-motivated and full of conviction, confidence, and commitment
- They want to make an impact
Kinneman suggested that the church, including Christian schools, have an unprecedented opportunity to shape this generation’s perception of our faith and prepare them for the future. He called on Christian educators to develop resilient disciples offering five strategies to build up Christ-followers. These strategies include
- Providing opportunities for teens to actually experience Jesus
- Helping them develop cultural discernment
- Building meaningful relationships with adult mentors
- Helping them cultivate vocational discipleship in their view of work
- Promoting a countercultural mission
It dawned on me that these strategies are embedded in the classical curriculum and spiritual development programs offered by The Habersham School. From morning liturgy to the House system to the teachers, coaches, and administrators who love their students and take a personal interest in their development,THS is intentional about nurturing healthy impulses in our students that will make a lasting difference in their development as disciples. Given the state of our world, our work in Christian education matters now more than ever!
Thank you for partnering with us in this essential work through your contributions of time, talent, and treasure.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Interim Head of School