Why I won't home school (if I don't have to)

Occasionally I get asked what I think about home schooling.  Let me say from the outset that I'm not against it at all.  I was actually homeschooled for Year 3 because I wasn't coping with the local Indian school and I wasn't old enough for boarding school.  I have lots of friends who do it - some out of necessity (eg. missionary friends in remote places with no options) or out of choice (because their child doesn't cope with the mainstream school system).  

So I'm fine with the whole concept. I have great admiration for families that choose to provide that education for their kids.  It is hard work and a significant drain on time and emotional energy (usually for the mum).  I also think that it can be a great gift for children who would otherwise get lost in a conventional educational institution.

But why wouldn't I do it?  Partly because I did homeschooling myself and found it quite lonely.  I missed the social interaction of school and ended up begging my parents to send me to boarding school in Year 5 (not quite sure what happened to Year 4 ... but anyway, I seem to have survived).  I found learning with other kids stimulating.

I also think I'm not that mum.  I know that if I had to (no other educational options/school so awful my child wasn't coping) I'd motivate myself to do it.  I have the skills - I trained as a school teacher.  But I'm so not patient.  I find motivating the children to get through music practice exhausting enough.

I also always loved being a part of a school community.  And I'm enjoying seeing my kids making those relationships at school and then hanging out with their friends who live down the street.  I enjoy connecting with the wider community through school.

A few years ago I met a homeschooler who was curious about how I (as a Christian parent) could let my children go to an inner city public school where they would be taught all kinds of terrible things.  'Aren't you worried about them?', she asked.

I was a bit taken aback because I had never thought like that about my children's experience of their school.  I didn't think they'd been taught 'terrible' things.  Maybe they were exposed to ideas that I didn't always agree with, but for the majority of the time it was fine.  I actually thought that it meant there wasn't much they were surprised or shocked by.  It meant that they knew all kinds of different kids, not just the ones I would choose for them.

And I wasn't worried.  If I say that I trust in God, and I say that I trust God with my children, then I shouldn't be worried.  If I claim to trust in God, then I shouldn't be fearful about putting my children in the world.  What I need to do is know God better, his might, his power over ALL things (including my children), and to keep being a Christian in the place I live.

That's my thinking anyway.  Remember:  I'm not against homeschooling - just can't see myself doing it.  (but hey, always said I've never marry an Anglican minister and here I am.  So, never, say never ...)


Sarah said…
Thanks for that post, Jenny. I've been asked the homeschooling question a few times, even though I don't have kids yet! It's probably because we live in a rural area, and everyone has been telling me how terrible the local district high school is, although from my vantage point it looks ok.

I remember that post you did when you said you'd find it hard to justify sending your kids to an expensive private school when the government provides education for free. I think along the same lines, especially since I came to Christ through having Christian friends at a government high school. For that reason, I'm all for kids from Christian homes being given the chance to be salt and light to their friends from many different backgrounds. My friends said going to a government school prepared them well for the world we all live in.

I couldn't imagine doing homeschooling, but would if we lived really remotely or had a child with learning difficulties. Most reasons I hear from Christian parents doing homeschooling is that they don't want their kids being taught about sex/contraception or evolution.
Jenny said…
Thanks for your comment Sarah - great story!

I'm fascinated by the 'I don't want my kids to be taught about sex/contraception/evolution' thing. Why not? It's part of life in our world. I think that as Christians we need to help our children learn how to engage and interact on issues that we think differently to others about. So our children are asking the hard questions of Christianity rather than blindly following along and never owning their faith for themselves.
Sarah said…
I think that as Christians we need to help our children learn how to engage and interact on issues that we think differently to others about. So our children are asking the hard questions of Christianity rather than blindly following along and never owning their faith for themselves.

I agree totally! I think it's part of wanting to shield their children from worldly influences. Unfortunately I've seen it with some young Christians I knew while at school. They spent almost their entire education in 'closed' Christian schools and in church, youth group etc. Then they went to uni or left home and found themselves in a world that looked shiny and tempting. Sadly many are no longer following Jesus (although I guess there are just many who went to public schools who no longer consider themselves Christian either).

However, I know some Christians have very different views to mine when it comes to education and I try to be gracious even when I disagree. My own views are probably from coming from a non-Christian upbringing and therefore it's hard not to feel offended when I hear Christian parents imply they don't want their kids to hang out with 'those non Christian kids'. Howver, I think ultimately parents are primarily responsible for teaching their kids about Christ.
Deb L said…
My own schooling included boarding school (missionaries' kid), state public primary school and private Christian highschool. And as a teacher I taught for 6 years in a Christian school. Would I homeschool? Only if there was not another great option available to me. I've been chewing the issue over for a while, especially because I'm a teacher and kind of felt guilty that I wasn't prepared to homeschool.

But we've got a great school nearby to send our kids to, one whose staff and values I know and love. I eventually want to be freed up to do more ministry outside the home. And I think my children would thrive better in an educational setting where I was not the only person instructing them and where they have to learn to get along with a wider variety of personalities.

An argument I've heard often for homeschooling is that it maximizes the child's time and it can be geared specifically to that child's abilities and interests. If my child was struggling in an ordinary school because they had special needs, then homeschooling would be a great option. But I actually want my child to have to deal with "wasted time" at school and things that don't interest her. I want her to spend all day at a swim carnival cheering on her friends even though she's not "sporty". I want her to have to research something that is not her favourite topic. Life is full of wasted moments and doing stuff that isn't thrilling. If she's two years ahead in computing when they are working in the computer lab then brilliant! She can spend the time learning to care for others by helping out when people get stuck. If assembly bores her to tears, great! She can use that wonderful imagination she's got and learn that not all meetings are enjoyable but they are usually survivable.

As to the fear about being taught all sorts of terrible things, I think we need to remember that sin comes from within. No homeschooling or Christian school will keep our kids from sin. They were born with it and they'll take it along with them to whatever form of education we give them. Their sin is not a more special kind than the sin of the kids down the road.

All the kids at the Christian school I went to were sinners, and so were all my teachers. The gospel was taught a plenty but still by Year 12 only about a third of our class would have still been attending church. I'm guessing that number dropped even lower by the end of university. We weren't "shielded" from the outside world. By upper highschool our class was drinking and smoking and getting into plenty of trouble in and out of school, both the kids from Christian and non-Christian backgrounds.

What my Christian school did do for me was encourage me to explore and question my faith in an environment of support and encouragement. Contraception, homosexuality, abortion and evolution - I can remember lessons were all those topics came up. I hit university feeling very prepared for what was to come and ended up with a major in philosophy. I am not saying every Christian school would be like that, but I'm truly grateful for the fine job mine did do in that respect. I also learnt a great deal from the role models of Christian adulthood in the school and from being in a multi-denominational environment.

I wouldn't say I would always choose a Christian school for my kids. I would choose the best local school that I could find: one that gave a very good educational program and had decent discipline. If there was the option of a genuine Christian worldview being taught on top of that, and I could reasonably afford it, I'd go for that. Most of the world doesn't get any say at all in whether their kids have even the most basic of educational opportunities. We can spend ages agonizing over schooling when really it's just a huge blessing we should just be truly thankful for and get on with.
Jenny said…
Thanks for your comment Deb - interesting to hear your story.

The time wasting comment is so true - we can't always do what we'd like to do all day as adults.
Beck said…
Before any of our kids started school I read a great article which suggested taking the approach that our kids education should be viewed as a year by year decision. Very helpful for me. It means I'm not stressed about making the right decision for the next 12 yrs in one hit and leaves me open to the whole range of possibilities. I discuss the homeschooling option with them once in awhile too! (Just so they know it is an option we could take if necessary)
We've gone with the local state school option and year by year been happy to continue. It's fantastic to be ensonced in local community. It's not been perfect but it has been pretty good for all our three currently in the system. We embark on local state secondary college next year and love the idea of that too. (this is different to my own education I add)
Hey, who knows? In a years time I might feel totally different... then whoah ...watch out kids... Mum just might become your teacher!
Jenny said…
I think that's great advice Beck - taking it year by year. That's why I say 'never, say never' because each of my kids is different and so I don't know how school will work out for each them as we go along.
Simone R. said…
I am against homeschooling. There. I've said it.

Now let me qualify. There are cases when it is the best choice - if schooling is not easily available, if a child has particular special needs that are best met at home etc.


- we have been given the priviledge of sharing Jesus with the world. Keeping our kids out of school communities won't help us do this.
- School is wonderful. My kids learn so much stuff that I couldn't teach them.
- If I homeschooled it would leave me very little time to serve others outside of my family.
- Even if schools were the big bad places some say they are, are they going to get any better if christians withdraw? Come on guys! We owe it to our society to try to make public education as good as it can be for those who have no choice but to use it.
- Schools teach kids that they are not adults. This is a good thing. It gets on my nerves when children address me as a peer. Homeschooled kids often do this. You are 10. I am 34. Some distance, please!

Go on. Shoot me down.
Jenny said…
Love the honesty Simone. Thanks for your comments - I passionately agree with you about sticking with the public system.
Wendy said…
Educating our kids is such a complicated decision (actually many years of decisions). I think we do the wrong thing by judging others on the decisions they've made.
Melissa said…
Hi Jenny,
I came to your blog via Catherine, love the title, we're a family of readers-at-all-times too :) Interesting discussion about homeschooling. We homeschool. I guess I just feel every family does what best suits them and meets their needs. I certainly don't judge families who send their kids to school and I'm always happy when someone extends the same courtesy back. Interestingly, I find that I am able to serve others in many different ways whilst homeschooling. At the moment we are around a lot to help our neighbours and to run h/s book club. Anyhow, thanks for your thoughts. Nice to 'meet' you.
Jenny said…
Hi Melissa - thanks for reading and contributing. As I said in my post I have great admiration for home schoolers - I think it is an amazing, generous gift of time for your children. I just don't think it's for me. And me and my kids are really happy with our public school so I recognise I'm in a privileged position that is working well for us at this stage.
Donna said…
Hi Simone R, Since you've invited it...I'll "shoot you down" in the nicest possible way. (Is it possible to shoot someone nicely I wonder?)

Seems to me that homeschooling (like all other types of schooling) can be terrible, or can be brilliant. My following comments relate only to homeschooling when done well as I have seen in a number of (of course, large) families. (That is, when the teacher is skilled, or brings in other skilled teachers, when the experiences are more "real world" than they necessarily can be at a larger school, when gifts are encouraged, when many profitable avenues for social interaction are found, when a love for literature and learning is fostered etc...)

I'll follow your points:
-sure we need to share Jesus with the world, but the school community is not the only place this can be done. I have met very impressive home schooled kids, who, because of their schooling, are excelling in their chosen fields and as people of integrity are witnessing in fields which are not known for their Christian presence.
-School is wonderful - but homeschooling can be wonderful too. Kids can also learn things that the mother / teacher doesn't know there too.
- True there is less time for the Mum to serve others, but the kids can come along and see their mother serving others too.
- I agree that public schools won't get better if Christians withdraw (I can't disagree with that).
- Isn't the main task of childhood to learn how to be an adult, in age appropriate ways? I'd much rather a 10 year old who talked to me as an equal, than a 30 year old who still talked and acted as if they were a child.

Melissa said…
It's always good to hear other opinions - stops me getting too insular :) I'm always happy to hear families are doing what works best for them!
Interesting for me as a secular homeschooler to hear that there are differences between Christians on this topic. In my ignorance, I guess I assumed that all Christian families were pro-homeschooling.
Melissa said…
Oh, and I forgot to add - just because I homeschool doesn't mean I am against public schools. I strongly support (with my vote) parties who are prepared to adequately fund public schools. Homeschoolers don't receive any government funding or resources for their students and in a world of limited resources, I'm happy for government money to be directed to the education system that is open to all. This is a minority view among homeschoolers though!
Pip said…
Interesting discussion. I am all for trying the local public school first then if that doesn't work consider other options.

I know a few families who home school for a variety of reasons, some I sort of agree with (child has certain disabilities) and some I don't (we want to protect our children from bad school influences). I agree it does protect a child to an extent, (as can sending them to a 'christian' school), but only for the years until they go out into the world.

My 5yo daughter has picked up some colourful language in her short time at our local school. Yes, she may not have been exposed to it in a homeschooling situation, but what better opportunity to train her from such a young age to be in the world but not of it and to be a light to those little friends around her.
Catherine said…
Simone R, I think it is a big call to say that homeschooled kids often don't treat you respectfully because they are confident and want to talk to you. Any type of kids can be rude or insensitive. Perhaps, if you want all children to keep their distance, you could ask them to address you as Mrs ..., as children did in addressing adults when I was a child (I'm 45). As a child I would never had dreamt of talking to an adult unless answering a direct question. Now, I'm quite happy to talk to 10 year olds. Or 34 year olds.

A reminder: it isn't only Christian families who don't swear, who don't abuse alcohol and drugs, who consume consciously, who avoid premature sexualisation, who serve in the community and who think critically about our cultures' values...
Jenny said…
Thanks for your last point Catherine - I think that is a really helpful reminder. And I know you personally so I can vouch for having seen it in practice!
Motherhugger said…
If we can accept that Buddhist and Muslim parents want the same things for their children that Christian and atheist parents do, then who, exactly, in the public school system are we wanting to protect our children from?

I would suggest that atheist families have a greater reason to homeschool than Christian families, since children who do not belong to a major world religion are discriminated against in NSW Public Schools, in that during scripture time they are not allowed to learn. Why Christians are opposing the suggestion that children have the option of attending an ethics class in that timeslot, thereby arguing to continue the discrimination, baffles me. Public schools are supposed to be inclusive and respect diversity. There isn't really anywhere else for atheists to go. If someone could explain it to me, I'd be grateful.
Jenny said…
I think that perhaps a fundamental difference between what Christians want for their children and others is that we really want our kids to be Christian. Sometimes this core belief reveals itself as fear. I think it is primarily a fear of kids being exposed to ideas/lifestyles that Christians don't agree with.

On the ethics thing. My personal view is that it's fine if an ethics course is offered - to those who aren't currently doing Scripture. Just being honest, I think there is a sadness among Christians about the loss of opportunity to tell kids about Christianity if kids are taken out to go to the ethics course. There is also an anxiety that part of introducing the ethics course is a push to ultimately get rid of Christian Scripture.

That's my take on it anyway - I don't know if that helps.
Catherine said…
Thanks Jenny. That helps.

The children who would be in the ethics class aren't leaving Scripture - they are currently in non-scripture and, by policy, not to learn anything, or they are only in a scripture class because their parents feel it is better than doing nothing. That isn't fair.

Everybody knows where the churches are if they want to lean more about Christianity. As you know, the church is very active and present in our community.

I don't see the ethics class as a threat to any church. It is actually a way of KEEPING Scripture in schools. The churches would be wise to support it, because if they don't, then the next step, I'm guessing, would be pressure to remove Scripture from public schools. For people who agree with the separation of church and state, the ethics class is the compromise.

And I understand the sadness. When you believe you are right, you want to spread the word. I feel the same way about sustainability, which might sound strange to Christians, but there you go.
Simone R. said…
Hi Donna. You're way of shooting me down was very nice.

I'd probably rank my concern that public schools won't get better if Christians withdraw pretty high on my list of concerns. Around the issue of schooling choices, the normal line is that we should do what is best for our kids and our families. I'd like to challenge that idea. With all the decisions that we make, we should think broader than just how it might affect me and mine.
Pip said…
I'm not really clued up on the NSW scripture in schools debate as here (another state of Australia) it is up to the discretion of the public school principal to allow scripture and also up to the individual teacher as to how much is taught at Easter and Christmas.

My question, from what I have heard about it, is about the ethics class, and what fundamental world view that it would be based on? As far as I have studied, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Athiests, Materialists etc do have different ethics, all based on a different world view. It would be very difficult to please everyone in non-scripture and teach any ethics of significance.

That said, children sitting doing nothing is really a waste of time, and does need to be addressed. But it isn't just a problem with the non-scripture children. I know of Christian parents who have pulled their children out of school yoga classes. And others who have had issues with astrology assignments (something that many non-christian parents also an have issue with). Christmas and Easter are a big issue with some Christian parents (and some non-christian parents) so what do those children do when half the day is spent on Easter bunny or Santa crafts?

I think that ultimately teachers and schools will teach according to their own world view and it is really up to the parents to ensure that whatever beliefs/ethics they believe in are taught to their child at home. I believe in a sense that the 'homeschooling' that goes on in all homes outside of school hours is the most vital part of a child's education.
Catherine said…
Simone, I'm a big fan of thinking more broadly than me and mine.

How would public schools be worse if Christians withdrew? (Not that I see this happening, and, should add, I like that public schools are for everyone - I wouldn't like to see any group withdraw.) I realise that schools would lose funding, and from my own experience, would lose volunteers. But what else?
Simone R. said…
Hi Catherine. I've been thinking about your (? - I assume you're Motherhugger) earlier questions as well. Let me have a go at answering all of them.

1. "If we can accept that Buddhist and Muslim parents want the same things for their children that Christian and atheist parents do, then who, exactly, in the public school system are we wanting to protect our children from?"

I think Jenny answered this one pretty well. On top of wanting my kids to be happy and healthy (like most parents want) I want them to be christians. But I don't think 'protecting' them from Buddhists or atheists will help achieve this. (Some christians will disagree with me on this one.) I think the christian faith is historically and intellectually credible and can stand up to opposition. So... no one!

2. Why Christians are opposing the suggestion that children have the option of attending an ethics class in that timeslot, thereby arguing to continue the discrimination, baffles me. Public schools are supposed to be inclusive and respect diversity. There isn't really anywhere else for atheists to go. If someone could explain it to me, I'd be grateful.

I'm from QLD so this particular debate isn't happening for us at the moment. But if it were, I would oppose Ethics being taught in scripture time for the same reason I'd oppose geography being taught in scripture time. I think the ethics idea is based on a wrong understanding of what scripture is. It isn't an ethics class. It's a lesson teaching kids about the bible. It will include some christian ethics, but mostly it's not about ethics. If the subject was changed to 'atheistic studies' or 'ethics for atheists' I'd support it happening in that time slot - because that time slot is a time slot for faith issues. I think ethics is for everyone, not just for those who don't want to study a mainline religion.

There are 2 schools of thought on how a secular society can run a multi/non faith school system. The first is the American way where faith is just not talked about at all. The second is the one we currently have where there is a slot in the curriculum and parents/kids can choose which religions they learn about. I'm a fan of the second option because I think it gives non-churched kids the chance to see what the christian (buddist/bahai/whatever) faith is about. As a former English teacher, I'm also a fan because scripture gives kids basic biblical knowledge which helps them read and understand faith allusions in texts.

I can understand your frustration with the wasted half hour, but most kids I know really like the time. They play on the computers, read books or do their homework!

3. "How would public schools be worse if christians withdrew?"

Like most christians, I think the message of the bible - that Jesus died so that we could be forgiven for the things we've done wrong - is one that everyone should get to hear. I'm not going to stand at the school gate and yell it out to everyone because that would be weird and inappropriate. What I'd really like is for people interested in God to talk to me or come to my church. People are often shy of going to church when they don't know anyone there (kids and adults). If they know my family, nervousness (hopefully!) won't stop them from coming to church to find out about God if they want to do that.

Apart from that, I think christian kids have interesting stuff to offer in class discussions etc (As do atheists, buddists and muslims).

I get concerned when any group (particularly religious group) shuts itself off from the rest of society. What chance is there for peace between adults if kids from different faiths don't get the chance to play together?

I think you ask excellent questions. Thanks.
Melissa said…
Ok, I really just have to make the point that homeschoolers are not 'shutting themselves off from society'. Homeschoolers take part in society, just not through the medium of school. Homeschooling doesn't equal grabbing your kids out of the playground and locking them away in your nice, safe lounge room forevermore. I'm sorry, but I just get really frustrated when not educating through the school system is misrepresented in this way. What I'd really like is for people who have concerns about home education is for them to ask questions about it of experienced home educators so as to become more informed about the reality of it.

Also, how is doing what is best for any one child incompatible with caring about the community more broadly ? Surely we all want to educate our children to become caring and giving people and citizens ? Surely it's possible to see that there is more than one educational method to do this ? Surely its also possible to see that you can support public education without sending your own kids to school ? For example, my eldest is interested in becoming a volunteer reading tutor at the local primary school.

Home education has is drawbacks; so do public schools and private schools. I feel sad that the tone of some of the comments here is harsh - NOT Jenny's original post I hasten to add - how do these assumptions about one anothers choices reflect the idea of loving one another ?
I can understand curiousity, the kind and gentle explanation of one's own choices, the exploration of views other than one's own, even if one ultimately rejects them for oneself. Where is the charity and humility in speaking with harshness about the choices of others ?

I am always happy to talk to anyone about home education if they have concerns or questions.

Jenny, I'm sorry if you feel this post has been hijacked by quarrel, I really only came to your blog because I love books and reading and hearing about how other families live their life and I look forward to reading more of your posts on these things). I wasn't going to comment any more on this topic but felt I must.
Melissa said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Wow! Has this topic been huge or what?! Can't wait to hear your "how we chose a highschool" post, Jenny. And then read the commments.... Chuckle, chuckle - it might be the end of blogging as we know it. Anyway, to put my two cents in, you do realize part of the public/private debate (skipping the homeschooling topic for a minute because I'm afraid of fire) is a Sydney/Melbourne thing? Melbourne has a much bigger cultural lean towards private schooling than Sydney. I'm not saying that's somehow BETTER or WORSE. I'm just saying that some of our views are probably influenced by the town we live in. And I'm posting as Anonymous because I'm chicken. There, I said it.
Jenny said…
Thanks for your comments Melissa - it's good to hear your story re: homeschooling too. I don't feel hijacked - it's part of the whole blogging experience! I have learnt though - that schooling is a HOT topic - wow. So, yes, anon, that high school post might wait a little while!
Motherhugger said…
Simone, thanks for answering my questions.

Whether children like being in non-scripture or not is not the point (and the smaller children certainly aren't reading or doing homework). Children would like to have ice-cream for breakfast, but that doesn't mean we should give them ice cream for breakfast. The point is that a group of children are currently being discriminated against. It wouldn't be acceptable if the policy in NSW Public Schools stated that girls were not allowed to learn for that time slot, or Indigenous children, or Chinese kids, or black kids, or blue-eyed kids, or Christian kids. So, I'm suggesting there should be learning opportunities for ALL children in that time slot.

To say the issue is the name of the course is problematic. Buddhism isn't a faith, yet is taught in scripture time. There will soon be an option of studying Indigenous Spirituality in scripture time. Frankly, I don't care what the course is called. I don't see how it affects people whose children will never do the course. Granted, the option shouldn't be geography, or anything that would disadvantage kids in scripture (although a lot of people don't mind disadvantaging kids in non-scripture). Granted, it would be great if all kids could learn philosophy or ethics. But, to solve THIS problem, we have an opportunity for the non-scripture kids to learn ethics, and, for me, that's a solution.

I agree that learning stories from the bible helps with literary studies and art history. But putting my children into Christian scripture was not an objective exposure to bible stories. It was indoctrination. They were told that their mother is going to hell. They were told they need to talk to their little friends about Jesus. Scripture is not 'studies in religion', which the kids learn in class (and at home) anyway. It is about the teachings of the church, and about faith. It isn't for children 'trying out' religions that are new to them.

I also take issue with people who want to critique the content of the ethics course when their children won't be doing the course. Imagine if everyone critiqued the content of everyone else's Scripture curriculum. Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Muslim. All pulling apart each other's teachings. We really don't have the right. It wouldn't promote community harmony. Nothing productive could come out of it - it would just be rude and insulting. In some instances we need to respect our differences, live and let live, and walk away. Public schools are supposed to be inclusive. While public schools have a scripture timeslot, we need the ethics option.
Catherine said…
Oh, and the ethics course isn't just for atheists. It would be for anybody in non-scripture, including, pagans, wiccans, Jedis, or anyone who is Christian but not part of a church that offers scripture at school.
Anonymous said…
I loved reading your thoughts on your school experience and decisions. So encouraging too that this is being discussed openly without mud slinging :)

Here's my story...

I made the decision to homeschool. The main reason? I felt God asking me to. And I felt a spiritual unease about any other option. I'm not saying that I disagree wth other choices, but what I have really come to appreciate, is that each family needs to be taking these issues to God and letting Him set the course. He is the one who guides and strengthens, and He leads some families in to bless the public system, some to bless the private system, and some to bless through homeschooling.
And, sometimes He may not make the decision as clearly for others as He did for us. For me, I am convinced that I would be disobeying him if I chose another option. And I am seeing the surprising fruit that has been borne by this choice that I would have never considered if it was just up to me.

I don't ask judgemental questions of my friends choices, as if my decision is superior, but I love to hear about their joys and struggles with school choices, to pray with them and to mutually encourage each other to be listening for the Spirits guiding & not so much to the opinions of men.

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