A recent audit in our TASS software revealed that approximately 20% of families across SCEA attend church on a regular basis. Using that metric, we could surmise that 80% of students that populate our SCEA classrooms, sporting halls and canteens each day are from homes that do not attend church or hold to Christian religious faith.
How does a young Christian teacher let his students know about Christ in his Physical Education and Christian Living classes at Ellenbrook Christian College (ECC)?
Introducing Mr Lewis McKerney – a young man that grew up with the gospel and has a heart to see young people come to know Jesus.
“Christian Living is a balance: you don’t want kids to like Jesus solely because they had just had fun in class, but you also don’t want pure boredom due to me droning on with talking and listening to me lecturing all the time. I have to show the gospel and what it is – but do it in a way that uses methods that the students can understand. You can’t change the gospel, but you can present it in an engaging, relevant and intentional way.”
Lewis’ father runs the Christian Union at Murdoch University, and his mother is a teacher, so gospel teaching seems to run in the family for the McKerney’s.
A degree in Sports Science followed by a Master’s degree in Education prepared Lewis for life in the classroom, and he managed to fit courtship, marriage and leading numerous Bible study groups into his time at university! The early completion of his Masters’s degree allowed Lewis the opportunity to begin teaching at Swan Christian College in mid-2019, and it began in quite a flurry of activity:
“I got married, finished my last assignment, the next Monday started work, and graduated a few weeks later!” says Lewis in the gymnasium at ECC as students shoot basketball shots at recess on a Tuesday morning.
Eighteen months of the Physical Education/Christian Living teaching combination opened up a position at Ellenbrook Christian College for Lewis, now known around ECC as the “Jesus-loving, sport-a-holic teacher” who combines faith with fitness for his students.
But how do young people see Jesus in this soccer-playing, clean-cut young chap?
“For me, I look around at the Earth and see a Creator who designed it. I see myself as a broken person, and God presents an actual solution for that. He paid for all my wrongdoings; I can’t pay for them myself. In response, I want to live for Christ, have Him as Lord and serve Him.”
Lewis explains that bringing the Gospel to his students and helping them see the beauty of our Creator is something he loves doing as part of his classes, but he is careful not to be seen as ‘preaching’ to them.
“Teaching Physical Education allows me to show the students how well-designed our bodies are. We run a Fitness unit that shows the amazing physical capabilities of the human body. Our bodies are these awesome soul-carrying machines, and it is so great to encourage the students to consider their bodies as more than just flesh and bones. We are created and designed beings, made with a purpose.”
“In Year 7, we are looking at Bible stories and showing how they build up to focus on Jesus, but in Year 11 and 12, we look deeper into other world religions and how Christianity fits into the world today.”
Along with the challenge of keeping students engaged, Lewis is very aware that students may bring their own perceptions to the Christian Living class, such as “I’m not a Christian, so why should I care?”
“The discussions and talking are important to get students thinking. And it needs to be done in a way that isn’t attacking but helping them be open to new ideas. Being able to present that in a way that they can understand and relate to is the key for me.”
Final words from the young teacher who needs to go and teach a class of Year 9 students?
“Working at Ellenbrook, seeing all of these different students and teachers, with different demographics and backgrounds – we interact with so many different people all the time. Every one of us needs Jesus.”