‘There is something different about this place…’
This has been said many times over the years by visitors to Master’s Academy and College. Although the exact words change, whether they were educators or parents or international guests, the idea is the same. They can’t put their finger on it initially, but after a while they see it: God has been invited to be here and He is making a difference in the learning environment and in the lives of families.
‘Christianity came gently into our family’ was another comment and referred to how one family observed over time, the daily living out of a relationship with the Lord amongst the staff and the school culture, and they wanted that in their lives as well.
The majority of our families and students have not grown up in an environment where a relationship with God is encouraged and where the Bible is referred to as a relevant guide for living life in the 21st century. However, we have the privilege of modelling that to them as we live out our Christian faith in our school community.
Our School Vision is to transform education locally and globally with Profound Learning, and our School Mission is to prepare students to be Future Ready. Master’s has a special story around its founding that includes prayer and prophetic words, and it is tied closely to the heart that God has to see each child walk in their God-given identity and purpose. So, how might all this connect as we live out our Christian faith here at school?
The school began in 1997 with this vision and mission, and it also began as a Christian school. Master’s believes that each child is created in the image of God and that they can personally know and experience His love, forgiveness, and destiny. The identity of the child is viewed through the lens of God who created them, knows them, gifted them, and has a meaningful purpose for their lives. We want to release them into a new vision of themselves that includes how God sees them – where they are able to know the Lord, to know His heart for them and their world, to realize their God-given creativity, to rise above culture’s pressures to conform, and be free to use their gifts from God to benefit His world by creating solutions to the individual and cultural issues of our time.
For our students to be fully ready for their future, we believe that the education they receive has to be in a ‘new wineskin’. Our school believes that its calling is to redeem the education system and to redeem the identity of each student. This means that the learning experience for the child is no longer held in the wineskin of the industrial model, but learning can be engaging, meaningful, enjoyable, relevant, personalized – and can include knowing God. The new wineskin is a school environment where the process of coming to school and learning fosters hope, freedom, joy, peace, love, faith, grace, humility and vision. This is all the result of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is welcomed into the school to form and inform by creating a culture that is different from other educational systems that have asked God to leave them alone.
Part of our school mission of being Future Ready is for students to have a foundation that goes beyond just academic education and vocational training. It focuses on ‘Who They are Becoming’ and it is a core piece of our learning model. This will include understanding the cultural moments that they live in and how they will work through what is coming at them during their lifetime. They will know that God created them and that God can give them wisdom and a relevant, foundational worldview for decisions that they will make in life. We believe that trust in God can provide a personal plumb line for them and they will have a standard from which they can make solid moral and ethical decisions. They can embrace God’s preferred future for them, enabling them to grow up and contribute ethically to the common good of the world.
In today’s world, we know that culture will look to silence and minimize faith in God. If we don’t equip our students to answer the questions and challenges of culture from God’s vantage point, and to help them know how to press into the identity and destiny that God has for them, there will be many things put in their path to distract them from what God has for them. The Bible can give them guidance as they have conversations about their doubts and the challenging issues of our day. We want to give God’s take on the world to our students, how He sees them, and what His heart is for them. It is not enough for them to have faith information, but we need to help them with their faith formation.
We do not believe in a dualistic approach to learning, where secular and sacred are divided. Instead, we believe in an integrated life where one’s faith fits hand-in-glove with daily living and learning. This can occur on two levels. On one level, there is God’s intention for the core principles and values in the Bible to be applied to how life and the world work. Explanations from the Bible can be given for what happens daily in mathematics, science, history and contemporary events. Teachers intentionally look for opportunities to make natural and appropriate connections of faith with learning.
On a more affective level, there is the invitation that God makes to all of us to live life in relationship with Him where we can experience His love, forgiveness and heart for us. This means that all of us can go to Him each day for wisdom, comfort and also the bigger vision for our lives. We encourage our students to think about and to possibly begin having faith in a God who desires a personal relationship with them.
There is something different about this place. And it has to do with what God is doing here, and He is not finished yet.