Mark and Sandra Neale started the churches a number of years ago, but today the majority of their time is spent overseeing Redemption Academy Stevenage and Emmanuel School Exeter. Both schools are inspected by Ofsted and use an individualised curriculum with a Christian world view, this allows the children to learn at their own pace in a loving environment that agrees with the home.
The heartbeat of the schools is that the children “might know Him”, though we offer a full qualification that is recognised by UCAS and accepted in colleges and universities internationally, our first call is that the students know who they are, where they came from, what they are here for and where they are going.
Below is an article that was originally posted on markneale.org which gives an idea of where we are coming from.
How can we help our children to know God?
Every believing parent’s desire has to be for their children to know God for themselves. A few parents may be more worried about their family tradition and or their public standing; but for the most of us we just want our kids to know Jesus.
I have the privilege of having two adult sons who are not ashamed of their faith in Jesus. In this post I want to share their perspective on coming to faith in the hope that it might help some of you with growing children.
My eyes were opened
A couple of years ago we abandoned what most people would call church in favour of a more organic experience, this was fairly major as I was senior pastor of two churches. As we transitioned to meeting informally in homes with the occasional get together, both my adult children were conspicuous by their absence. One day over pizza they let me into their church worldview.
Kids eye view
Growing up James (26) and David (24) really knew church; Sandra and I were leaders and teachers. Sunday attendance was, in our house, mandatory. That day in between mouthfuls of the Hut’s finest, I asked them where they were in their faith; they both assured me that Jesus was very real to them, they shared experiences of being a witness and answers to prayer. “But what about church?” I ventured.
“Never seen the point”
“Only went because you said”
“It was all a silly game, the adults had no idea”
My next question was along the lines of “So how come you believe in Jesus?” and I wasn’t prepared for the answer.
“Because of you Dad”
Okay, so at this point I was choked, chuffed and confused all at once. But wow, they saw all those years in church as quite separate from their faith in Jesus. It seems that in their minds, church was to be endured whilst Jesus was to be believed in. What my sons explained was that there were two major factors in them coming to a genuine faith in God: parents and school.
Whilst it would be true to say that they didn’t necessarily enjoy the school we started, they both now see that it was a vital part of their spiritual growth. Not I suspect because of what they learned, though that helped, but rather because of what they didn’t learn.
What does a Christian School do?
Nowadays when I speak to prospective parents at our schools I offer them two things; our curriculum and an environment that will not undermine the home. In other words, if the children are observing Kingdom values and being taught a biblical worldview in the home, these will be supported at the school. But, what the school cannot do is replace the role of the parents.
In my opinion our children want what we say about Jesus to be true; we are then responsible to share the truth and give them an environment where that truth is allowed to develop and grow. When we consider that between 80 and 90% of our children do not have an active faith by the time they leave college, isn’t it time that the church took Christian education (aka discipleship) more seriously?
Go well my friends 🙂