Where did MECS come from?
MECS began as a dream in the mid-1950s! Christian parents dreamed of education with a Christian perspective for their children – and grandchildren. In the 1960s, they organised themselves and were very active in raising funds. In 1964, the pioneers formed their Association of Parents for Christian Education, Mount Evelyn and accelerated the pace of work to establish a Christian school. With daring and vision in 1970, they purchased our wonderful six-hectare school property. Their dreams were realised when they opened Mount Evelyn Christian Primary school on the 3rd February 1973 – a full 19 years after the very first fundraising effort. The school opened with three teachers teaching 80 children in grades Prep to 6 in three composite groups.

Why a Christian school?
We have two main motives for operating a Christian school. The first is that we believe that Jesus Christ is to be Lord over every single part of life, including the education of our children. The second is that God has given to parents, the responsibility of nurturing their children. Their education is a major part of that.
MECS sees its primary task as unfolding God’s world with children in the educational domain (families and church also do this but in other domains of life). This involves students understanding that they are God’s creative handiwork, unique, precious and loved, made in God’s image and gifted in many ways. They also learn how to work and play within the world, and what God asks of them. As students understand themselves, their world, and have a healthy view of the calling God has for them, they are well equipped and positioned to engage as active participants in society and as disciples of the Lord.
Such a holistic understanding stands in stark contrast to the broad Australian view that schools exist for the purpose of providing students with basic skills and the where-with-all to get a good job at the end of the process. One is a view of God’s kingdom and the call to serve, the other, the material world in which one needs to work. Two very different views about education.

Why MECS and not a State school?
In Australia, we are aware that State schools are required to be ‘secular’ – supposedly neutral to any particular religion. We believe, however, that it’s impossible to be ‘neutral’ with regard to religious belief. In attempting to be neutral, State schools default to a commitment to secularism, which believes that everything must be explained in terms of things we can experience with our senses and that there’s nothing beyond the world of our natural experience. It’s not hard to see that this is actually a religious viewpoint in itself and contrary to Christian faith. A child in a State school will absorb this view without realising it unless great care is taken. We believe it actually undermines the nurture in faith that parents desire for their children. The New Testament witness is clear: that Jesus Christ created all things, he sustains them, and they exist in and for him. So there is no part of life that is unrelated to God or is ‘neutral’ with respect to him. This is why we have a Christian school – we do education under the Lordship of Christ.

Doesn’t teaching Christian moral values make a school Christian?
Many people think that the Christian message is one of ‘doing the right thing’; living a righteous life for then God will smile on you and reward you for good deeds. This is not the gospel. Whilst Christians do seek to respond to God’s love through living righteously, the core of the Christian gospel starts with recognising our brokenness and our need for a Saviour in Jesus Christ. The general Australian misconception that Christianity is simply about morality misconstrues and limits the power of the Christian story. So at MECS we will not merely teach about morals, but we will look at all of life and see how a Biblical perspective affects and transforms it.

Doesn’t evangelising in school make a school Christian?
It is common that people think Christian schools are about planting and growing the Christian faith within children and young people. Now this occasionally occurs within our school context, but it isn’t a defining feature of what makes MECS a Christian school. We do not have Chapel services with an appeal to faith. We do not have teachers seeing their most important task as bringing students to faith. We don’t seek to find any opportunity to slip in a faith challenge. This doesn’t mean we are embarrassed about the gospel or lacking confidence in its power. Like with a moralistic view, we do not want to restrict the Christian message to just one part.

Isn’t it the Christian teachers and their relationships with students that make a school Christian?
MECS only employs staff who are in agreement with our Educational Creed, a clear statement of the Christian gospel in relation to education. Teachers teach out of the faith they profess and relate to students in a warm, engaging and respectful way. Even though teachers make mistakes, they seek to be ‘Christ-like’ in their manner and example. Many people feel that this role model and the healthy relationship between student and teacher is the essential ingredient of Christian education. Our view is that this is only one aspect of the bigger picture of Christian education. Primarily the key calling of the Christian school is to lead the way with biblically grounded learning.

Doesn’t providing Christian pastoral care make a school Christian?
Some people think that Christian education is all about the way teachers and chaplains care for the students. While this is important, pastoral care for students is not the defining feature for MECS. All sorts of schools these days have Christian chaplains (which is great), but that doesn’t make them Christian schools. You can read more about our holistic approach to pastoral care in the question, “How do you provide pastoral care for students?”

Doesn’t doing religious things make a school Christian?
When we reduce the Christian message to just a part of a bigger picture, we refer to this as having a dualistic view, one that splits life into two parts: the secular (all the normal everyday things we do) and the sacred or spiritual (the ‘God’ or religious things). Many Australians think that this is how God, Christianity, faith, and the church work. Christianity is just about religiosity: Sundays, good morals, devotions, teaching a bible lesson, a prayer, adding a Scripture verse, holding a chapel service. MECS thoroughly rejects this dualistic approach. We believe that we cannot take the model of school that we find in society and just add a bit of religious “icing”. It would be like putting chocolate icing on a vanilla cake and calling it a chocolate cake. MECS isn’t just about putting a bit of ‘icing on the cake’. You could also look at the question: “How much religion or ‘God talk’ happens during the average week?”

So what is a Christian school?
Whilst righteous living, sharing the gospel story, strong relationships, and participating in religious activity are important to us at MECS they do not define a Christian school. The DEFINING is the key point here.
Our outlook is a holistic one. It’s not icing but rather a whole new loaf of bread, where one’s basic outlook on life, one’s faith, is like the yeast that forms the very shape and character of the loaf. A holistic view of Christian education has every aspect of the school’s life brought under the Lordship of Christ. This is essentially the view that all we do is a response to the God we serve. The practice of all schools reflects some basic religious views of life. Even the supposed secular (no religion) state school reflects some key religious views about life. So first and foremost, MECS is a Christian school through its key calling to lead in learning. What this means is that we have the special task of helping each student to discover the meaning and structure of the world we live in, and to move beyond discovery to a real and well thought out Christian response to that world.

How is MECS different from other Christian schools?
There are many different types of faith-based schools in our area, some run by churches and others with a very loose connection to a church or the Christian faith. MECS takes its ‘Christian’ label very seriously and develops its approach to education in faithful response to that foundation.
MECS stands in the tradition of the reformation that sees the world as God’s handiwork, fallen through sin, in need of salvation that can only be found through Jesus Christ. In this understanding those who celebrate Christ as Lord, approach their task in life as people redeemed by God. This approach will dynamically transform the type of educational practice of those committed to it. That is why many label it as a transformational approach to education.
Developing Christian education is a natural part of the Christian life because God calls his people to offer all that they do as praise to him. Christian educators at MECS seek to transform all teaching and learning because God wants to be Lord of all they do. Any close observer of MECS would see a wide range of ways in which aspects of school life have been transformed.

How does faith touch every area of school life?
In the Bible, we learn that Jesus Christ created all things and sustains them. There is no part of life that is unrelated to God. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). One of the forefathers of Christian education once declared: “There is not one square inch of the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ does not say: ‘Mine!’” So we believe that faith touches all of education. When some people hear this view, they may wonder about how faith affects certain subjects that appear to be non-religious. It is helpful to think about mathematics as an example. Someone might ask, “How does Christianity relate to maths? Isn’t ‘2+2=4’ the same for everyone?” The reality is no it is not. For many children 2+2 can be a meaningless set of symbols when divorced from reality. In fact, our faith means that we will treat mathematics as one way of thinking about God’s world. Children do not learn “mathematics” by merely accumulating mathematical knowledge or even the mastering of mathematical procedures. Rather they develop abilities to perceive and think mathematically about the world. For most students, at least until the teenage years, this is only possible when mathematics education explores the “mathematical” aspects of creation.
Our primary obligation is to ensure that we do not present mathematics as the most important way to gain truth about the world. Working from a biblically informed worldview, we teach that mathematics is one means of deepening our understanding of some aspects of the world, so that we might be better equipped to serve God and our neighbours.
We have only used one example here, but we’d be happy to discuss with you how faith affects other areas of the curriculum too. Please ask us.

I have heard you think that school is not just about getting a good job. If it’s not that, what is it?
Most Australians think that the purpose of schools in our secular western society is to equip students with the educational basics, like literacy and numeracy, and to prepare students for employment. Whilst MECS does that very well, schools have a much richer job than straightforward job preparation. Schools are not places that simply prepare students for adult life as if a child at school isn’t already living in the real world. Schools are microcosms of life - places where students solve problems, choose what to wear, settle disputes with each other, learn about their gifts, etc., just like adult life. Those who reduce schools to mere preparatory grounds severely limit the breadth and depth of the education a school will provide.
A key weakness of the ‘preparation for work’ idea (the goal of economic rationalism) is that so many students are basically being set up for failure. Sadly, students who do not have a clear vocational pathway, or who do not achieve the ‘required’ ENTER, or who have gifts outside of traditional core educational areas, will more than likely view their educational achievements as being inadequate. Yet they are, in reality, well-rounded, balanced, insightful and healthy individuals.

What does ‘Equipping for Life’ mean?
For us, ‘equipping for life’ refers to a broad and deep educational purpose. There are many aspects and areas of life for which schools need to equip students. We want them to be prepared for life in all its richness and variety, both while they are at school and after they leave. We want to equip them to be, life-long-learners, trustworthy, committed, informed, discerning, critical citizens, wise consumers of goods, services, and entertainment, friends, marriage partners, parents, community members and leaders, sports players and leisure seekers. We want to equip our students with an understanding of the meaning and implications of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all areas of life. That means we want to them to be ‘salt and light’ in the world. We hope for them to be transformative disciples in and for the world (but not of the world). We want to enable them to be servants and able to love their neighbours (local and global). We aspire for them to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with their God” (Micah 6:8). We work to equip them to be responsible and caring stewards of God’s good, but fallen, creation.

Why do you talk so much about ‘Christian perspectives’?
One of the key ways we see Christianity relating to what and how students learn is by developing a ‘Christian perspective’ for every area of the curriculum. When we talk about Christian perspectives, we are referring to a Christian approach to a particular area of the curriculum, teaching and learning. For example, we seek to understand Australian history, or a novel, or biology, or water from a Christian point of view. Another way we speak about this is to talk about understanding all areas of the curriculum through the eyes of faith.
An image we find helpful is to imagine the Christian faith as a pair of glasses that we look through. Our teachers work hard at wearing those glasses and understanding the impact that the glasses have. Teachers explain the views that their own glasses give them. They go on to assist students to recognise that the views they have also result from the perspective their glasses give them. Recognition and understanding of perspective (what the glasses see) is critical for Christian education.

You frequently talk about a holistic education. What does that mean?
A holistic education is one in which we work from our Christian point of view to address the broad range of educational needs and interests for each child. We view all children as created in the image of God. They have diverse ways of knowing the world, possess unique gifts and express wonderful characteristics. We do not believe that education should merely emphasise academic or intellectual development. When we make intellectual development the sole focus of schooling, other areas of students’ lives can be downplayed. They are treated as less important and tend to be neglected or even denigrated.
By contrast, a holistic education recognises the importance and validity of a range of abilities and gifts. Students have a range of ways of knowing and relating to the world. We want to provide an education that touches on and challenges each student to learn, develop and grow in as many areas of knowledge, skill and performance as possible, and not just the traditional ‘academic subjects.’ We always try to see each child as a whole person, with a wonderfully complex mix of academic and non-academic abilities and interests. We want to provide opportunities for students to develop their athletic and sporting abilities, their musical and artistic skills, their abilities to craft and make things, and so on. We love to help those with both non-academic and academic abilities to excel—to learn and be wise with all their abilities to the glory of God.

Who lets a Christian school operate?
The Victorian Registrations and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) is a government body that enforces a broad range of standards and guidelines for independent schools. The VRQA ensures that schools achieve these standards and are trustworthy recipients of government financial support. We can assure you that MECS is a registered, Prep – Year 12, school that complies with all state and federal government regulations.