Never has the need or desire for education been stronger than it is at this moment in history. Since education has historically proven to be an effective on-ramp for establishing Christianity in society and culture, an old-but-new potential for effective missions has just re-appeared to the Church. Missional schools.
Knowledge-based jobs will soon eclipse labor-based jobs in the United States by a 4 to 1 ratio. However, public sector education is struggling, creating an unprecedented demand for private sector education. This is not just true in the US but is a global reality.
The transition from agriculture to manufacturing to information economies took 150 years in the United States. Globally this transition is happening in a single generation. People are seeking relevant education like never before as the critical pathway for better jobs and social mobility. This requires educating their children.
Middle income populations do not hesitate to spend money on education as part of the new global consumerism that defines them. The global middle class will grow from 2.2 billion to nearly 5 billion by 2030– making education, particularly American education, the most sought after commodity in the world.
Quality American education will not only prove to be a profitable business but is a space where missionally the Church could make its greatest contemporary impact. Whether in the urban core of the United States, where public schools are failing, or in emerging markets where American education is a premium, education gives the Church, if done well, a sustainable economic model and potential access to influence millions of students, their families and society for the gospel.
Missional schools foster an environment of intellectual vitality and relational trust among next generation learners. This environment establishes a foundation for the faithful presence of the church within the next generation of secular culture, but it often transcends this goal, leading to transformed lives and social structures.
Education can constitute a long term redemptive social power, particularly when socializing the children of cultural elites or, as we have seen throughout history, creating positive social disruption by providing an avenue of upward mobility for gifted students from less privileged backgrounds.