I attended a Christian school in Sydney for the majority of my K-12 schooling years. Recently, someone asked me to answer this question: “How do you know that you attended a Christian school?” I’ve thought through the question and in relation to my experience at the school I could answer it this way.

  1. The school name had a reference to Christian virtues and a denomination.
  2. The insignia I wore had Christian iconography on it.
  3. The staff members were (to my knowledge) all Christian and attending the same church.
  4. Class time included time for prayer, formal doctrine classes, and chapel time.
  5. There was a strong Christian ethos in the school.
  6. General classroom conversation could include elements relating to the Christian worldview.
  7. I had many faith-based conversations with my teachers and most of my friends attended church.
  8. There was an identifiable connection between faith and practice.
  9. There was a strong student behaviour code (this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it being a Christian school).
Now if you were a parent looking for schools in your area, would you be happy with this kind of response to a similar question? Perhaps you attended a faith-based school and have something more to add to the list. For readers who have attended a Christian school and for readers who are currently attending a Christian school, I would be interested in your responses.
For readers who would like an excellent scholarly presentation on this issue in Australian schools, I would like to point you to a lecture delivered by David Hastie at the recent NICE summit on Christian education in Darwin.

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About Jeremy Kwok

Jeremy grew up in Sydney before moving to the United States for tertiary studies. Jeremy completed the BA, MA (History), and M.Div degrees before returning to Australia with his wife Debbie. He currently works for Christian Education Ministries, a company that owns and operates private schools.


  1. Greg 29 August, 2011 at 8:38 am - Reply

    I have just started working in a Christian school in Victoria. Over 3/4 of the students are NOT christians and about the same number are NOT from christian families. Yes, it is true that all teachers are required to attend church, but I do not believe it is THAT which makes it a Christian school.

    I think what makes this school stand apart from the State school down the street (literally) is that it prepares all students with the KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS to follow Christ as adults by education and example. No student is pressured to be a christian and teachers are honest about some of the negatives of “the church” but every activity reminds students that the fulfilled life is the Christ-focused one.

  2. Jeremy 29 August, 2011 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Good thoughts Jeremy.

    For me, a Christian school is one which encourages students to follow Christ as the ultimate teacher.

  3. Jane Gibb 29 August, 2011 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    To be a Christian school, the Bible must be the ultimate reference point and foundation for all truth taught. What makes the school Christian is having Christ at the centre. It’s not a Christian school if Christianity is only tacked on. Every staff member should be a disciple of Jesus Christ and every student should be encouraged to be His disciple also. HOW all this happens will vary from school to school, but the driving core of a Christian school should be the authority of Scripture and the glory of Jesus Christ.

  4. Jeremy Kwok 30 August, 2011 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the comments – just a caveat – the post was my reflections on my own schooling experience not necessarily what I’m thinking today.

    So here’s my next question – how does a Christian school differentiate from a sunday school environment or a church discipleship program?

  5. Jeremy Crooks 30 August, 2011 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    The orginal purpose of Sunday School (as established by Robert Raikes) was to teach 19th century English children to read. Today that role is supposedly fulfilled by universal schooling.

    However, in my experience Sunday School has evolved to be church for kids. The merits or problems posed by having separate church teaching for kids could be discussed on another thread.

    If we are going to send our kids to both Christian school and Sunday School, then their mission should be complementary. Formal school as accredited by the government should have to ensure certain outcomes as set by society. (e.g. a minimum level of comprehension, reading, writing, etc). The Christian component of a school should be teaching that the origin of all truth and comprehension is the creator God. By extrapolation, the teaching will lead to our accountability and reconciliation to God through Christ Jesus. Sunday School should teach the same.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

  6. Jeremy Kwok 30 August, 2011 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    How about this statement:


  7. Jane Gibb 30 August, 2011 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    Sunday school should plainly be designed to teach children about God through what the Bible directly teaches. Christian school uses the Bible as a lens through which to teach all the academic disciplines. Both should pursue an evangelistic as well as a disciple-making agenda.

  8. Greg 3 October, 2011 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    I like Jane’s last comment on this, as a very good way of discerning between the two. Thank you.

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