Disclaimer: This post is not meant as legal advice. It is purely my thoughts and opinions. Experts disagree as what exactly your rights as a teacher are. Please seek a legal professional for help.
When I shared the post “Should Teachers Leave Their Faith at Home?” I got some interesting responses. We all know that the secular world does not want Christians to share their faith, but I was somewhat saddened that so many Christian public school teachers seemed to agree, maintaining that religion has no place in the classroom.
Others, however, wanted to know how exactly they could share their faith in the public school. And, wow, this is a tough question, one I didn’t really feel qualified to answer as I’ve only taught in Christian schools, not public. But as I thought about it and discussed the question with some public school teachers, I realized that the answer is not quite as difficult as I thought.
Our Faith Must Impact Every Aspect of our Lives
Before I get to that, though, we as Christians have to realize something very important. It’s what I was trying to say in the “Should Teachers Leave Their Faith at Home” post, but I’m not so sure people really got it. As Christians, we cannot compartmentalize our faith. If we truly believe in Christ and desire to follow Him, then our faith should impact every aspect of our lives, no matter what our vocation is.
As Christians, we cannot compartmentalize our faith.
We shouldn’t be turning our faith on for Sunday morning and back off for the rest of the week. As teachers, God has given us an important area of influence, and we have the awesome responsibility and privilege to be a light in this dark world.
Yes, there are legal issues. Yes, there are restrictions. No, I’m not telling you to stand up in the middle of your class and proclaim, “Thus saith the Lord!” But the point is that if you’re a Christian then you shouldn’t be able to turn that on and off. Your faith should influence what you say and what you do. It should permeate your life.
And it should mean that you are looking for opportunities to share the truth.
So how exactly do you do that? I’m glad you asked……
How to Share Christ as a Public School Teacher
- Show Christ through your actions. If our students are ever going to be open to what we have to say, they need to see Christ in who we are and what we do. So love your students, and be an example of a believer, showing Him through your conduct and daily interactions. Check out our post “10 Ways to Show Christ to Your Students” for some specific idea of how exactly to do this.
- Embrace the truth. Every single teacher has preconceived philosophies and ideas that they bring with them to the classroom. The difference is that ours are the truth. So if others are going to spread their false philosophies, we certainly shouldn’t muzzle our true ones. Yes, there are restrictions. So once again, I’m not saying to stand in the hallway and start preaching the gospel. But God’s truths – His universal truths that apply to every aspect of our lives – should be such a part of you that they impact everything you do and naturally weave themselves into your teachings and interactions. If they aren’t, then you need to get into the Word and really start to embrace its truths, allowing them to impact every part of you. To help you get started, check out our posts on Thinking Biblically.
God’s truths are not just for Sunday mornings; they are still true the rest of the week.
- Objectively discuss faith when it applies to the curriculum. According to the Liberty Counsel, you are absolutely free to discuss faith as it applies to your curriculum. For example, if you are discussing ancient Egypt, it is appropriate to discuss their religious beliefs and how they differ from the beliefs people commonly hold today. The goal of such discussions should be to get the students thinking and to prompt them to ask questions. Because if they ask questions, you are then free to answer them. [For more information about your rights as a public school teacher, check out the whole report from the Liberty Counsel, courtesy of CEAI.]
- Honestly answer questions about your faith. You have great freedom to answer questions that students ask of you, whether in the classroom or one-on-one. So when students ask you a question that relates to your faith, answer it as openly and honestly as you can. If you feel it’s necessary, you can preface your response by letting them know that this is your personal belief or opinion.
- Pray for your students and for opportunities to speak. Spend time praying for your students as well as their parents and your fellow teachers. And ask specifically that God would not only give you opportunities to speak truth into their lives but that He would help you recognize and take advantage of them.
How else do you share your faith in the public school? Share your experience with a comment below.
- Additional information about Christian Educators Association Int’l, a wonderful group that helps teachers understand their rights and how to share their faith.
- 10 Ways to show Christ to Our Students
- When Is Faith and Religion Allowed in Public Schools?