Yesterday, the monthly youth worker network meeting was hosted by one of the largest churches in our region. While I was there I noticed something different. School was not yet in session for the local schools, but there was a group of teenagers and parents that were at the church, and school books were present, and they were headed for the gym. That was when I overheard another youth worker state “oh, that’s the homeschool group”. When I realized that this church has offered itself as a resource for homeschool families in the area, my mind started filling with questions about how our church deals with homeschool families.
As a homeschool dad, I always get the question “why did you choose to homeschool as a family?”. There are a lot a answers I could give, but I usually share that its a personal decision we made five years ago as a family to do what works well for us and our children. Then I am usually asked the “socialization question.” When I share that my children are involved in local sports, the local church ministries, mission trips, 4-H, and the local library programs, the person often sees we are not one of “those families” (whatever that means).
As a rural youth worker, I have observed a rise in the number of parents homeschooling, due to lack of other available choices (such as private schools). This is not a population that is going to decrease in number, especially with programs such as k12, and other “online school programs” that make for a hybrid public/homeschool experience. As we look at this growing portion of the parents and students we serve, here are some of the “other” questions we should ask in ministering to homeschool families.
As you work with homeschool families in your ministry, here are a few questions you can ask that will position your ministry as a resource to these unique families…
1. How can my church give them something they need or want?
In the case of the church I mentioned above, they just provide space for the homeschool group to get together periodically. Maybe there is a need in the local homeschool group for people to teach life skills, such as cooking, sewing, computers, etc. Who in your church would give a couple hours a month to help with this?
2. Am I asking the right questions around my homeschool students in youth group?
When you charge your students to share Christ this week on your campus, at your lunch table, it sounds great, even amazing with the right amount of passion (I have done this..). However, to the homeschool kids in your group, you have just shut out and marginalized them. Their thoughts just went to “he doesn’t get me, because across the lunch table sits my sister who has been a believer for ten years…”.When you charge students to use their circles of influence to spread the Gospel of Christ, you have now included everyone, because that means sports, scouting, or anything.
3. Am I assuming that all homeschool students are believers?
I know that one of the large stereotypes of homeschooling is that people do it so that they can teach their kids the Bible as part of school. I get that. In my family, that is one of our greatest joys. However, there are many families that homeschool that are not believers. They may homeschool because of disciplinary issues with their children at school, or they may be in one of the hybrid programs. Do not discount this population of students as “already reached with the gospel”.
What questions are you asking in your ministry that affects homeschool families? Share in the comments area below.