How to Start a Christian School

Starting A Christian School

Starting a Christian school is exciting and challenging. It’s a fantastic way to minister to the families in your community and influence children for Christ. Most new endeavors require research, preparation, and planning, and starting a Christian school is no exception. Here are some specific areas that you should consider as you get started.

  1. Take the first steps

    With all the decisions you’ll have to make, don’t forget to seek guidance from the Lord, especially when you determine your philosophy of education and establish your purpose. Pray that God will help you find the right leadership, the right teachers, and that He will give you wisdom and discernment.

    Psalm 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

    Decide on your philosophy of education

    Your philosophy of education will decide how your school operates academically—both what content you teach and how you teach it. Adopting a clear philosophy of education will help your school maintain a consistent, reliable standard for teaching and learning regardless of the size of your school or your faculty’s experience level.

    Since you’re beginning a Christian school, you’ll probably choose to adopt the traditional philosophy of education, one that has been successful in educating children academically and spiritually for generations, training them in Christian character and teaching them to be articulate and knowledgeable. Traditional education is based on America’s educational heritage and supports biblical beliefs such as accountability, respect for authority, and godly character.

    Hire your principal/administrator

    Recruit a principal/administrator with demonstrated leadership and organizational skills who will help build a school around your vision. It’s essential that the person you hire embraces your philosophy of education; the principal/ administrator has much influence over faculty, staff, and the direction of your school as a whole.

    Everything rises and falls on leadership.

    Articulate your mission

    Articulate your reason for existence in your mission or purpose statement. Perhaps your purpose is to teach academics from a Christian perspective, to reach young souls for Christ, to train future servants in the Lord’s work, or all of the above! Whatever you have in mind for your school, express it clearly in your mission statement and refer to it often, especially when dealing with parents and faculty.

    Determine whether enrollment will be open or closed

    Open enrollment means that children without a specific church affiliation may attend. More importantly, an open enrollment school reaches unsaved students and parents for the Lord. Sharing the gospel with children and families who otherwise may never have heard it is one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of the Christian school ministry.

    Closed enrollment means that only children of families with a profession of faith who are members of a specific church affiliation may attend. Closed enrollment schools may have fewer enrollments and may have to charge higher tuition fees.

    Whatever type of enrollment you choose, be sure to create standards for dress, behavior, etc., along with how they’ll be maintained.

    Establish your standards

    As you start your school, purpose to give parents confidence that their children will receive a high-quality education both spiritually and academically. Commit to presenting a superior program that gives your students the education they need in both areas.

    Standards in dress and behavior are integral to maintaining a distinctive Christian school environment. Write your standards down and distribute them to both students and parents so that everyone knows what is expected. Since everyone will know your standards, you’ll be better prepared to implement them.

    Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

    Investigate local and state laws

    Look up construction and use codes for schools in your state, and check with your state’s Christian school organization to find out how to conform to local and state laws. If you plan to use classrooms in your church or an existing building, you may already be in compliance.

    Your state’s Christian school organization may also be able to provide information on state requirements for private schools, such as student-teacher ratios, faculty qualifications, and background check requirements.

    Evaluate facilities and furnishings

    As mentioned above, you may choose to use your current church classrooms. You could also lease space from another church, purchase a public school building no longer in use, or purchase/lease portable classroom units.

    Once you’ve decided where to meet, think about what furniture and equipment will be available and what you’ll need to purchase to get your school off the ground.

  2. Build on your foundation
    Research probable enrollments

    Before you can move forward, you need an idea of your expected initial enrollment. Many new schools have estimated the number of students by conducting an interest poll within their congregation and other related ministries. Initially, many of your students will probably come from your church membership.

    The number of families interested in enrolling their children will give you a good starting point for how many students you’ll have. The age range of potential students will also tell you what grades to offer. Don’t feel you have to offer every grade in the beginning; Christian schools can successfully launch with one to four grades (K5 through 3rd grade). In the beginning, two grades may even be combined and taught by one teacher. Be careful not to take on too many grades too soon; start small, and grow wisely.

    Whether you have six students or sixty in your first year, organize your school so your students will receive godly character development and solid academic training.

    Address financial matters

    Now that you have an idea of how many students will enroll, you can start creating a budget. Account for staff and faculty’s salary and benefits, curriculum and supply costs, utilities, and advertising.

    As a start-up school, you’ll need items such as curriculum, lesson plans, teaching aids, desks, tables, and semi-permanent supplies like chalkboards, whiteboards, and possibly even classroom technology. Since you will need many of these items before you receive the first tuition check, consider fundraisers, bank account savings, donations from sponsors, or asking for a collection from churches participating in starting the school.

    Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

    Choose your curriculum

    Many parents will send their children to your school because they want them to be educated with a Christian worldview. Others will choose your school because they prefer private schooling to public schooling. Regardless of their primary reason for choosing you, each of your student’s parents will want academic excellence.

    The right curriculum can do a lot to help you achieve excellence in the classroom. Look for a comprehensive curriculum written from a Christian worldview that will help teachers on all experience levels excel. Opt for engaging textbooks, high-quality materials, and day-by-day lesson plans that prepare your teachers for the classroom.

  3. Get ready to open
    Hire your faculty and staff

    If you’re planning to follow a traditional school calendar (August through May), start planning in January how many faculty and staff personnel your school will need.

    Estimate the number of teachers to hire based on enrollments you’re projecting from the interest poll you’ve already conducted, as well as any additional enrollments you’ve received that you weren’t counting on. Start talking to potential teachers early (February or March is a good time) so you can have commitments before teachers make other plans for the coming school year. You can often find qualified teachers familiar with the Christian school environment, or you can recruit teachers directly from Christian colleges. Be sure to stay in contact with potential candidates as you confirm your school enrollment, then make your job offers when expected enrollment supports the hire.

    1 Thessalonians 5:24 Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.

    Attract enrollments

    A key factor in attracting enrollments is a professional-looking website. It tells parents what they want to know about your school and leaves a positive impression. You can use it to explain how your school is different from public schools, private schools, and other Christian schools. Highlight clearly why parents should want to be a part of this new school venture by showing the benefits of your school and explaining how they and their children will be better off for having chosen your school.

    You’ll also want to create a flyer and/or brochure to help promote your school. These can be mailed, distributed door-to-door, and displayed in prominent public places. For example, they can be displayed in your church lobby or in church members’ places of business.

    Always follow up with parents interested in enrolling their children, including those from your church. It’s best to start promoting as early as March and no later than May. Since other Christian and private schools will also be advertising during this time, work to get the word out about your school and get students enrolled.

    Set your calendar

    Determine your start date, and then count out the number of school days required by your state. Factor in holidays, Christmas vacation, spring break, and any other days classes will not be held. For the best way to get your school year started, include a kick-off meeting for staff and an orientation/open house for new students and their parents.

  4. Stay faithful

    If God has laid it on your heart to start a Christian school, we want you to know we’re here to help. But the most important thing to know is this:

    Know that you can do it

    Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

    Starting a Christian school requires considerable effort, but it leads to eternal rewards. Prepare as much as you can, pray, and take wise steps as you work toward your goals. Above all, be faithful to what God has called you to do, and leave the results to Him.