Some have suggested in recent years that Christians should abandon the public school system.

Indeed, there have been increases in both homeschooling and private Christian education. Parents of these students are calculating what is best for their children, and they are doing whatever it takes to provide quality education plus moral and ethical training.

Other families compare the options and choose to keep their children in the public school system. They would argue that their children must live in the world, and consequently they should learn how to deal with the world system that is thrown at them. Some view it as the opportunity for them and their children to be salt and light in a dark place. Many families have little choice because of the costs involved in private education.

Teachers struggle with the same issues. Should they leave the public school system and teach in a private school? Considering the continual restrictions placed on them in regard to expressing their faith, can they make a difference in public education? Sometimes the question of safety is an issue.

I would not propose an answer to the debate in such a short article. The issues are simply too complex and opinions too varied. If I tried to answer, I would probably find reasons to disagree with myself. The truth is that every individual family and teacher must find the Lord’s will for themselves.

Despite the debate, the fact remains that most of our children and teachers will be a part of the public school system. It would behoove us to find ways to engage this system and become salt and light. We must become missional in our efforts to impact the culture around us-and no place needs us more than the public schools.

I am not suggesting that Christian teachers and students become preachers in the classroom. I am proposing, however, that they strive to become the best. We should set the pace for excellence in teaching. Our students should be the most well behaved and most diligent students. As Christians, we are to follow the lead of Scripture, which calls upon us to do whatever we do heartily as unto the Lord. Our work and studies are to be done as if they are acts of worship to the Lord. Let the fragrance of a job well done and a life well lived flow from us.

Parents must take the same challenge. As missional Christians, we should be the greatest supporters of the school and of teachers. PTA meetings and activities should be filled with believing parents who care about the school, teachers and students. We have the opportunity to leave salt and light everywhere we go. It can be done without preaching and pronouncements. We can accomplish it by the excellence with which we do our service to others.

Laws can prohibit us from praying publicly in the classroom, but prayer cannot be kept out of the schools. All parents can bathe their children’s classes and teachers in prayer. No law or wall can stop our prayers. I encourage prayer walking around our schools; when attending events at school, simply use the walk down the hall as a time to pray. It is legal and, more importantly, it is powerful to the tearing down of strongholds.

Christians can make a difference in public schools. We can leave a salty tang and light beams everywhere.