Sometimes when someone is asked why they are considering PCS they will answer, “For the Christian atmosphere.” Although that is an honest response and certainly worthy of consideration, the easy thing might be to dismiss it as if they are not contributing to the advancement of the purposes of the school. But that is not necessarily the case. In fact, we all need to look at what is meant by “atmosphere” and understand its impact in setting the tone in the classroom and the school.
Everyone recognizes the influences that exist in culture, many of which are not conducive to a spiritually uplifting environment. But what we might take for granted is the liturgical positives that come from creation, maintenance, and advancement of an atmosphere of spiritual truth. Smith (2016) suggests that we learn spiritual truth through absorption of an institution’s atmosphere, not simply by intellectual reasoning.
The most lasting lessons of casting worth and value on others often go beyond the teaching of a lesson. We teach more by process and procedure, the questions we invite, how they are answered, and the conversation fostered among students. What is celebrated is what we value.
An environmental atmosphere has a strong spiritual impact on a school not only to set the tone for an event but also on its audience, in the classroom, and at all school events. For instance, Christian school sporting events can be community building, biblically-affirming positives, or they can be distortions of misaligned loves that seeks to mimic a cultural norm of win-at-all-costs mentality.
Smith (2016) states, “Children are ritual animals who absorb the gospel practices that speak to their imaginations” (loc. 2030). The collective atmosphere matters and should point us toward a biblical vision of shalom, which is the unification of peace and wholeness one finds in the Lord (Smith). Each person in the school has an influence on the atmosphere; we are either adding to it positively or subtracting from it.
God’s Spirit alters the atmosphere of every aspect of the school when we are aligned with Biblical purposes. When our approach affords an eternal perspective and unity with God’s Word, the result should be an atmosphere that is aligned with the Fruits of the Spirit. Hence, the resulting school atmosphere reflects who we are and what we really believe. We must pray that our hearts are aligned with the Lord’s purposes in education, which are to find wisdom.
“Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3b).
Smith, J.K. (2016). You are what you love: The Spiritual power of habit. [Kindle edition] Amazon.com