Christian education is a very broad topic. In general, Christian education could be considered any education that is based upon a Christian worldview or teaches Christian principles. The word intentionally should be added to this definition however. Even our public school system teaches some Christian values such as honesty and integrity without endorsing Christianity as they are generally accepted good traits. Moreover, because the US has a Christian heritage there will always be some Christian principles taught even if they aren’t acknowledged as Christian in origin.
What is Christian education will vary based on the context of whether it takes place in a school setting or within a church. In formal education it is impossible to make math Christian but overall the school may strive to grow students into mature Christians. This would make it a Christian school and one would receive a Christian education there. In the context of a church, Christian education should only have one goal, make fully functional disciples of Christ.
There are four things that separate Christian education from other types of education – people, purposes, products, and processes. In respect to people, Christian education is different because it involves Christians. Christians are the students and more mature Christians are the teachers. This can be found in any public school in America however, so that is not all that is required. The most important person in Christian education is the Lord. God is involved in the education of Christians, both as the subject of the education and as the giver of spiritual gifts. The spiritual gifts are then used for the glory of God, completing the circle.
The purpose of Christian education is different because it involves the reconciliation of our relationship with God. All Christians have already been forgiven and that part of our relationship with God has already been restored. However we continue to sin and need to continue to ask for forgiveness. We are taught to seek God in prayer and to worship Him. The more we do this, the more we attain spiritual maturity.
The products of Christian education is brought as a result of the purpose of Christian education. As a believer is brought into maturity, they will worship the Lord more deeply and whole heartedly. As they attain maturity, they will seek out others to pass on their knowledge and begin the discipleship process over again, this time as the teacher.
The final thing that makes education Christian is the processes. This is probably the biggest separation from secular and Christian education. The Bible is the core textbook in Christian education. The people are devoted to one another in a way that is not found in normal teaching. As a result of using the Bible as the authoritative textbook, the education is Christ-centered and focused on the disciplines that Jesus taught.