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Our Distinctives

Our Mission

Our mission is to prepare students to lead and serve with distinction while representing Christ and seeking his kingdom in all areas of the home, church, society, and culture.

graduation student speakerThe mission of Chattanooga Christian School defines what an education at CCS is intended to accomplish. The philosophy of CCS defines how we intend to accomplish our mission. At the center of our philosophy is the collaborative partnership between the home, church and school. CCS claims to be neither the primary educator nor the primary spiritual caretaker of the children we serve. Parents have been entrusted by God to be the primary educator and the church was established to be the center of worship and discipleship in the life of each child. CCS was created to be an extension of both the home and the church, created for the specific purpose of educating children from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. The mission of CCS is most effectively implemented in the life of the child when the specific partnership between the child’s home, church and school is most closely knit together in a cohesive learning community.

In the context of a strong home, church, and school partnership, CCS seeks to orient its programs and practice around five Philosophical Distinctives:

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Grace-Filled Community

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In Genesis 3:26–27 we see the beginnings of the community God intended for us. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Imbedded in these verses are two interconnected communities, the Trinitarian community of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the community of men and women as bearers of God’s image and stewards of his creation. As God’s plan unfolds through human history we see more clearly the nature of our community defined through our vertical relationship with a Trinitarian God and a horizontal relationship with humankind. Chattanooga Christian School (CCS) cultivates its community within this context.

While the perfection of both our vertical and horizontal community was corrupted by the fall, God remained faithful and quickly promised a redemptive and relational plan to restore the beautiful community he intended for us. In Genesis 3:15 God says this to Adam, Eve, and the serpent who deceived them, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” God’s plan to send an offspring of the woman to redeem what was fallen was set in motion. That offspring would come not only from the horizontal community and be fully human, but also, as God’s only begotten son, be fully God and from the vertical community.

students band trumpetsGod’s sovereign plan continues through Abraham and to the seed of Abraham from generation to generation, in a covenant promise that he would be our God and we, his people. In Exodus 19:5–6 God reiterates his desire to rebuild his community now in bondage, when he said, “if you indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you shall speak to the people of Israel.” Peter carries forward this same promise in 1 Peter 2:4–5, “As you come to him, a living stone, rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Paul proclaims the same covenantal, community-healing truth. In Ephesians 2:12–14 he shows us that all the people of God, Jew and Gentile, are one community, vertically and horizontally, when he says, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now, in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Paul describes this further in Ephesians 4:4–7, “There is one body, and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

We were created for community with God and others. Sin made the community God desired impossible, but rather than reject us, he sent his son to make both our vertical and horizontal community right. We are underserving recipients of this grace and are equipped to participate in rebuilding the community God intended in creation. CCS is therefore meant to represent this covenantal, grace-filled community in every way. Our call is to serve our Trinitarian God and pursue reconciliation in our vertical relationship with him for his glory. The purpose of every pursuit within our community is to glorify him. While our efforts to live in this way fall far short, God’s grace through Christ perfects our brokenness and restores us to be his treasured possessions.

God has also called us to reconcile our horizontal relationships with others. A significant part of serving God is serving others through kindness, justice, and mercy. Our actions as part of God’s community are not our own, and we are often called to sacrifice personal goals and aspirations for the glory of God and the body of Christ. The policies and structures of the school are designed to represent and proclaim this truth and are intended as a means of grace in the same way that God’s law is a means of grace for believers.

students fence homecomingAs diverse people grow into one body, each with its own specific role, the grace of God is seen in the midst of our successes and failures. Sin has broken us individually and as a community, but Christ entered the fallenness and paid an extraordinary price to rebuild what was broken. The community of CCS seeks to center itself in the pre-eminence of Christ to sacrificially serve God’s glory, rather than the pre-eminence of man to self-sufficiently serve his own glory. As Christ is longsuffering with us, so CCS is longsuffering with students as we come alongside Christian parents in their effort to raise their children as treasured members of the body of Christ. While the penalty for sin has been completely paid in Christ, God uses natural consequences to help us see and learn from the fracture our sin creates in our vertical and horizontal relationships. Consequences in a grace-filled community, even the most difficult ones, are designed to be catalysts in the restoration of both our vertical and horizontal community.

The message of grace-filled community cannot be presented only in the content of our instruction. It must be clearly seen in the context of school life, as we own our brokenness in the light of God’s grace. We rest in the covenantal promise of God to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ, and trust God to restore each part of CCS as we serve as ministers of reconciliation in the vertical and horizontal community God is redeeming by grace.

grandparents day student

Integrated, Christ-Centered Discipleship

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In Deuteronomy 6, Moses poses an important question and gives a profound answer that was meant to shape the lives of the Israelites in that day and lives of the people of God in days to come. “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and rules that the Lord your God commanded you? Then you shall say to your son, we were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” These words have a direct influence on the purpose of every program and practice at Chattanooga Christian School (CCS).

Moses was telling a real story of a time past but he was also foretelling an even greater redemption to come. He was painting a picture of God’s plan to send his Son Jesus to redeem us from the enslavement of our sin. Galatians 3:29 brings this into focus in these words, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Paul continues this theme in chapter 4:4–7 “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

homecoming crowd cheerThe profound truth of Moses’ prophetic question and answer was that redemption was to be brought forward through generations as a result of God’s promise to Abraham, fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The nature of this truth must be integrated into every detail of learning and every facet of life. Moses makes this clear in Deuteronomy 6:5–9, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Moses and Paul, as God’s teachers, told a poetic and beautiful story of Jesus taking our sin, bearing death and the rejection of his Father on our behalf, and rising from the dead to seal our adoption as children of the King. It is this historic redemptive story that CCS seeks to inculcate into the lives of our students through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a matter of the heart, mind, body, and strength that is addressed through academics, athletics, and the arts but also through authentic relationship building where teachers humbly strive to know students and love them deeply as they image God’s love for them in Christ. It is the basis for the nurturing spirit that permeates classrooms, rehearsal rooms and practice fields and provides the backdrop against which students can be held to high standards as they grow their unique gifts and talents. It is a story that frees us to live a life of obedience, upheld by the perfection of Christ.

Every learning objective, assessment, theatre performance, athletic contest, art project and technological innovation fits within a context of God’s redemptive story in Christ. Every academic struggle, relationship failure, and missed opportunity helps us see our need to claim value through our inheritance in Christ rather than in the glory of our performance. Every brilliant performance and excellent grade is then an offering; given in gratitude, as an act of worship, to our adoptive King! Jesus gives eternal meaning to all things and our hope is that this meaning will be evidently integrated in every person, program, and practice at CCS.

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Individual Student Growth

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It is our commitment to provide an environment that allows each child to grow from their unique point of need to their full, God-given potential. In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus speaks to us through the Parable of the Talents. In it, he teaches that we are responsible to grow the talents we have been given but also that we are each gifted differently. The student community at CCS is a representation of the diversity found in the servants of the Parable of the Talents and in passages like Ephesians 4:7 and 1 Corinthians 12:4–7. Not all students will excel in the same areas, but each has been given special gifts for God's glory and to be part of his plan to reconcile all things unto himself in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18–19, Ephesians 1:9–10, Colossians 1:20). Ultimately, we are to grow our gifts in service to God and his plan as a response to his great love for us (Romans 3:23–24). As we grow in our understanding of his love, we grow in gratitude. Our gratitude to God for his loving grace becomes the foundation of our service to him. In this Christ-centered learning community, each part of life becomes an act of worship as we seek to glorify God in all things.

cheerleader smileThis means everything we do matters for God's glory and plan. All of our curricular and co-curricular efforts are designed to foster the growth of each child to their fullest potential. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are more than subjects to be mastered. They are part of the overall development of each child as they learn to respond to God in worship through the use of their unique gifts. The process of learning is meant to nurture each child as they grow in developmentally-appropriate ways towards the fullness of their unique design. Students are challenged to reach the heights God has prepared especially for them through a rigorous pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Expectations are set according to the giftedness endowed by God in each child. Standards of performance serve as guideposts to provide accountability for our commitment to create the best environment for each child to reach their full potential. Excellence is accomplished when students reach higher as they strive to accomplish God's distinct purpose for them and grow deeper in an understanding of his love for them in Christ.

Each student’s accomplishments are important and the bar is set high. In helping students perform at higher levels, it is critically important to root them deeper in a heart-level understanding of God's design to serve him and his plan, not themselves. A rigorous education that prepares each child to perform at high levels is not complete without a fully-integrated understanding of the love of Christ and one’s call to use his or her developing gifts to worship him. As the heart of each child grows in its understanding of academics, athletics, and the arts, encompassed by God's redeeming love, the most complete learning is accomplished. We celebrate students created for callings that include doctors, carpenters, scientists, mechanics, engineers, missionaries, accountants, teachers, leaders, servants, moms, and dads in order for the world to see through their achievement, the redeeming love of Christ. It all matters for the glory of God.

ccs senior leader

Rigorous Curricular and Co-Curricular Programs

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The book of Proverbs opens with an appropriate purpose for Christian education. “To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction and wise dealing, in righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—Let the wise hear and increase in learning and the one who understands obtain guidance.” CCS endeavors to create an engaging learning environment patterned after these words. Romans 12:4–8 describes our uniqueness as well as the persistence and joy that should characterize how we live as those transformed and renewed in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:18–19 reminds us that being renewed means we have been called to participate in Christ’s renewal through a ministry of reconciliation.

These three passages establish the foundation upon which the curricular and co-curricular programs at CCS are layered. Our purpose is to prepare God-gifted learners to take their place in the world as well-equipped participants in God’s plan of reconciliation. CCS believes a Christ-centered education must rigorously prepare students to serve the home, church, society, and culture while giving testimony to Christ and seeking his kingdom.

choir concertOur students are made to learn and create and are gifted to serve as agents of renewal. CCS exists to provide a learning community that challenges students to fulfill this high calling. Significant focus is placed on college preparatory programs with the primary emphasis placed on providing developmentally-appropriate rigor and student-specific depth in the learning experience. Skilled and compassionate teachers are complemented by the use of research, best practice, and a biblically integrated curriculum that all serve to advance learning to the peak of student potential. The value of each uniquely-gifted child as a bearer of God’s image is not lost as teachers lovingly engage students at their point of need and carefully measure progress through a variety of qualitative and quantitative measures. Equipped with useful data, teachers can then adjust rigor and instructional depth to meet individual needs and help students realize intentionally planned expectations.

Assessment strategies, including standardized testing, are used to evaluate CCS curriculum and instruction in addition to student progress. The nature of education requires formative and summative assessment and benchmarking across subjects and grade levels as well as with other like-minded schools. These efforts are designed to best prepare students in an ever changing and increasingly competitive world.

The best learning experiences recognize the necessity of clear purpose, sound practice, and challenging expectations. By God’s grace, CCS commits to the highest standards in these areas in order that our students will reach their God-glorifying potential. Our ultimate goal is that our students exercise their significant potential in ways consistent with Micah 6:8, which says, “He has told you O man, what is good: and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

lindley graduation 2014

Truth-Based Critical Thinking

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In 2 Timothy 3:14–17 Paul encourages his student, Timothy, with these words, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Paul is laying the foundation for absolute truth that is found in God’s word. CCS is built on that same foundation. Central to truth is the grace of God in Christ and our purpose to gratefully glorify him in all things. Stemming from God’s great love for us, the Truth of Scripture provides the framework through which all of life can be understood.

CCS seeks to weave the tenets of this framework throughout its curriculum and program. We teach the Bible as the story of God’s redemptive grace in Christ. The truth found within this story forms a foundation that helps students understand who they are and the nature of the world they are called to serve. Growth in this understanding serves to encourage them towards obedience as an act of grateful worship of God. The challenges of humbly defending God’s absolute truth are made much more difficult in a world that denies the authority of Scripture in favor of a framework that centers itself on the glory of the creature rather than the Creator. CCS partners with the home and the church to foster critical thinking based on the truth found in the Word of God.

While there are many situations in life where right and wrong are as clearly distinctive as black and white, many of the pathways we travel and decisions we make fall in shades of gray. Our efforts are intended to push students to search the scriptures to see what is true. We engage students with complicated ideas and worldly philosophies so that their knowledge and faith can be cultivated and refined by fire, but in a safe, nurturing environment. Critical thinking requires an understanding of absolutes and the shades of gray in order to analyze and synthesize data and create informed beliefs and opinions. CCS engages students in ways that push them to wrestle with the complications of real life within a context that cherishes each person’s value and calling in God’s creative design and purpose. The desired outcome is students who can think seriously about difficult issues through the lens of God’s Word and communicate clear thoughts, ideas, and solutions with the humility of Christ.

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