I never thought that I’d have to deal with churches persecuting homeschoolers when I first started out. Boy, was I wrong. I had never heard of a pastor who hates homeschooling. I thought that the church would be especially friendly to homeschoolers. And many are.
When I first started homeschooling, the pastor of my church at that time stood in front of the congregation and openly denounced homeschooling. This was a pastor who hates homeschooling. His own children went to public school. He also said that homeschooled children didn’t love Jesus the way that public schooled children did. Children in a hostile environment, he said, have a greater hunger for salvation. He never did share where he got his ideas from. He did not support his arguments with scripture. But, perhaps like some Christians I’ve met, he felt that Christian children should be salt and light.
And, no doubt God calls some Christian families to that. And, there are no guarantees with homeschooling, either. After all, some people are disappointed with homeschooling and the unfulfilled expectations they had of it. Some homeschooled children leave their faith and some public schooled children (like most of us) find Jesus in spite of their school environment.
How to deal with a pastor who hates homeschooling
You could leave that church and try to find another one that is supportive. That’s what we ended up doing. However, that can sometimes be difficult to do. In our situation, I was already active in a homeschool co-op at the new church. Your situation is likely very different. If you choose to try to stay, here are some other ideas:
- Invite your pastor to attend a homeschooling conference. Many allow pastors to attend for free. Encourage him to attend the workshops specifically designed for a pastor who hates homeschooling or for the new homeschooler. Conference presenters design these workshops to answer skeptics’ questions. Other good options are the ones specifically for grandparents as those, too, are also designed to answer general concerns about homeschooling.
- Give him a copy of the latest research on homeschooling, offered by The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI). This research dispels myths about homeschoolers and NHERI updates it regularly. After a week or so has passed, give him a call. Ask him if he’s had a chance to look at it. Point a few things he’d find in the document and volunteer to answer any questions he may have.
- Create a cheat sheet of Biblical references to the training and discipleship of children and give it to him, maybe including a testimony of why you homeschool. Offering what you believe to be Biblical support of your decision may help him see your perspective. Or, it may aggravate the situation if he doesn’t agree on your interpretation. It’s helpful to understand that some pastors who hate homeschooling feel convicted by others’ decision to homeschool. They may act out of this feeling of guilt.
Or, just start your own church
If all else fails, no one should continue to be a part of a hostile church environment. You probably won’t convert others, it is not conducive to your spiritual growth, and it will likely harm your children’s growing perception of God. Maybe you could form a small house church with other homeschooling families in your area if there are no other options. Conversely, you could invite a bunch of homeschooling friends to your current church. When there are many families who homeschool, it becomes more difficult to be openly hostile.
If you faced persecution from your own pastor, what did you do? Do you have any other suggestions you’d like to share?