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Chapter Twelve

How to Start A Christian Daycare

Rev. Ellsworth E. McIntyre

Founder of Grace Community Schools & Early Childhood Education Pioneer

Chapter Twelve


All of the preceding builds precept upon precept to this: you can own your own private school and enjoy financial independence in this life and reap an eternal reward in the next life by following my system. You must know or learn to know that freedom and that owning and controlling private property are one and the same. You must know how to be or learn to be an effective parent as well as a teacher to your students. You must succeed at recruiting a student body from advertising similar to our direct mail program. You must choose the right location. You must avoid the discredited reading and math programs of the government schools. You must present the gospel with more power than churches that support public education.

Your calling as a Christian teacher is complex. You must teach the young by precept and example how to live for Christ. Such a huge task cannot be finished with a tract describing four simple steps. “He that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). If you are compassionate, wise, soul-winning teacher, you know in your heart that the whole counsel of the word of God should be taught to children before they face this world—the younger the better! This is your holy task. If so (and it is), you will be rewarded for intelligently executing your calling and punished with loss if you do not.

Because I am a God-called teacher as well as you, I know you are willing to sacrifice. I dragged my family through an unnecessary hell, because I had more zeal than knowledge. That’s just fine if it has to be that way. But does it? So, I was called to teach, but was I justified in jeopardizing my family’s happiness and future to satisfy my misguided doctrine? Perhaps if it was absolutely, positively the only way, but you, fellow teacher/soldier, do not have to crawl through that mine field without my map! There is an easier way.

Is it God-honoring and wise to stake your family’s security and your old age on the managerial ability of the local church or Christian school? Is it prudent? May I suggest that my way is less risky? Consider for a moment that I have founded six schools and set forth their detailed procedures in my operational manual. Banks do not lend money to risky ventures. In fact, money is very difficult to obtain for start-up ventures in even boom times. My success is your assurance that my program works.

On the other hand, what is your alternative? Let’s say the worst possible event occurs—you go bankrupt! What then? Couldn’t you find another job as good or nearly as good as the one you have? Sure, you may lose, but remember that a loss can happen right in your present situation as well. Wrapping a gift in a napkin and burying it in the ground (school) won’t be worth much at the judgment seat. Read Luke 19.

Consider the freedom to reach hundreds of souls in a most effective manner. Consider the freedom to teach the best and truest reading program free from bureaucratic bungling. Consider the freedom to own and teach the truth. Consider the double honor and double pay of being a self-employed professional; leap over the high wall when you see yourself expanding the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men I introduced to my school system are in the top 1 percent of the nation’s wage earners. I take pleasure in the peace in their eyes when they praise the Lord for His calling. Their success is my success; your success is important to me.

If you have a family, your children will have your shoulders to stand on as they add to the inheritance you lay up for them. Really now, does the government deserve to be your heir or does the fruit of your life of labor belong to your flesh and blood? How much of your pension will be paid to your children?

Your clientele of parents and children are willing to pay you a magnificent income and an estate for your children if you can meet their needs for quality daycare and education in a free market. Is that fair? Of course, it is. They are willing to enter into voluntary tuition contracts to buy your ministry. As parents, they are charged by the law of God with training their children in the nurture and admonition of God. They need you, Christian teacher, to carry out their solemn duty to educate their children. Just as a lawyer or medical doctor enters the market to meet a need, so can you as a professional educator.

Why Must You Have a Manual?

I know that most teachers who read these words will ask themselves, “Do I need to buy a manual?” The more experience you have, the more likely you are to believe that you can start and operate a successful business without a manual. You are wrong, and I can prove it.

First, ask yourself this question, “How many people do you know who have started a business from scratch?” Of these, how many are earning the level of income I am discussing? Very few.

Why? Because starting a successful anything from zero is a very difficult task that requires skills 99 percent of teachers do not possess. Let me recommend a book that will develop that fact for you. It is called The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber (Ballinger Publishing Co., Cambridge, Mass., 1986). Gerber’s thesis is that the reason almost all start-up businesses fail is because the skill to pull off the task is rare. Nearly all businesses are started by technicians lacking in entrepreneurial ability. Therefore, you, dear reader, will very likely never be able to start a successful enterprise. But wait! Ever see a McDonald’s fast food restaurant? Of course, you have; there are thousands of McDonald’s managed by people who also lacked entrepreneurial skills. What is their secret? The McDonald’s operational manual. The entire franchise system has stood the business start-up success ratio on its head. Instead of most start-up businesses failing, the reverse becomes true via a manual, because all businesses are basically systems. The entrepreneur is the composer of the system. He has the creative talent to produce something new, if the system is completely described. With written music, any musician can capture Mozart. Only Mozart, however, could compose Mozart’s music, but with written music, lesser mortals can play beautiful music. Vary from Mozart’s written instructions far enough, and you have noise and failure, not music.

As in Music, So in Business

You must have the manual to make the business succeed. There are probably scores of church-run daycare/preschools in your town. Perhaps your church operates such a facility. Perhaps your child attends a Christian school. Are they yielding a generous profit to their owners? “No” is the correct answer. Why? It is because they don’t have a successful system. Don’t you imagine they would succeed if they could? What kind of school could you produce without a system? You have experience, you say? Well, if you worked for one of those losing schools, you know a system that loses, not how to make a success.

Let’s say you know someone who manages to make a profit. Can he tell you how he does it? It is probable that he cannot! Talent does the task by using talent. It’s instinctive. Not only must the successful entrepreneur demonstrate his success, but his system also has to be captured and transmitted to you, so that you can duplicate his system. Without this, my friend, you may have only bankruptcy at the end of your efforts.

Fortunately, there is a better way. It removes trial and error. Remember: even if you are possessor of entrepreneurial skills (and you may be), there is still costly trial and error. Even with lots of talent, you may run out of money, making correction after correction, searching for the working formula. Perhaps you can stumble through, but why do that when my manual is available to you at less cost than one tiny trial and error mistake?

At the beginning of this book, I said, “I pray you will learn from this book how the yoke (of oppression) can fall from you.” Now, I am a serious Christian. When I said, pray, I mean just that, PRAY. When a serious Christian prays, he must back up his prayer by Godly action; otherwise, he is not a serious Christian. I will sell you my system, because I want the Godly reward for thousands of children you will affect for Christ in His kingdom.

So, You Have an Education

Matt 25:30, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” A Christian education should include two lessons for the sake of the testimony. For the past twenty years, I have had the responsibility of interviewing, hiring, training, and sometimes firing people with advanced college degrees. My conclusion, based on this experience, is that the least productive workers in our present world are those who are best educated in terms of credentials. If my opinion is unique, the reader can dismiss me as a grumpy old man. But to the disgrace of those laboring for the church, my opinion is widely held, because it is based on demonstrated fact, not illusion. Businessmen will extend credit faster to non-Christians than to pastors or churches, because those who deal in the marketplace know Christians to be, as a rule, “dead beats.” Bankers are very reluctant to extend credit for a Christian ministry. Experience has taught them that such loans are “questionable.” What is the lesson that should be taught in our Christian schools and seminaries? To fail to keep your credit contracts is to steal, to break the covenant, and to be an unprofitable servant.

There is a second lesson needed. The world, as ordered by God, rewards work more than words. Booker T. Washington, about a century ago, tried to protect his black students from the anti-Christian notion that a man “should live by his wits alone.” Washington insisted that all his students, in order to graduate, had to be proficient in a marketable trade. Our seminaries and Christian colleges have produced hordes of graduates more ignorant than Washington’s field-hand blacks in the realities of the marketplace. The marketplace rewards the manufacturer more than the inventor. The marketplace rewards the producer more than the writer. The marketplace rewards the successful trader more than the professor. The marketplace rewards the pastor who builds his church more than the pastor who vegetates in someone else’s church. The marketplace rewards the teacher who owns, operates, and builds his school more than the teacher who teaches three classes per week in someone else’s school. To make matters easier to grasp, God rewards demonstrated successful work over the best diploma from the best school. The profitable servant succeeds in the public market regardless of success in private markets called schools, colleges, and seminaries. Why do you suppose genius is so often found without a college degree? I suspect much genius is squashed, squelched, and killed by failing to understand the relatively useless value of a diploma without the will and ability to work. Why is it that most of the largest churches in America are built by men without a “proper Presbyterian education?” Could it be that what passes for a proper education fails to teach the absolute requirement to work?

I spend my time now searching for men and women who want to start Christian schools. My method is to start where the free market is most ready to accept a new school (i.e., the daycare field). From a profitable daycare, a hard-working family can easily earn $50,000 a year. From that daycare center, students can be retained for higher and higher grades until a solid, profitable school can be built. Hundreds of souls can be saved, and the whole counsel of God taught without interference from a church board or denominational religious bigotry. It is a proven financial and spiritual winning plan, but. . . and it’s a huge BUT... most of the “educated” Christians I talk to regard starting at the preschool level as beneath their lofty station. “I am ‘not called to that,”’ they say. After they discover that they must work all year long without a three-month summer vacation or a legion of holidays, and horror, more than six to eight hours a day, well, that is just not their calling, you see. Yes, sadly, I do see just as Booker T. Washington saw his blacks, “Such are not profitable.” Much of the blame can be laid at the door of our Christian educational experience.

Happily, I have found a solution to my dilemma. Preschools do not require college credentials, so I have begun to hire non-degreed individuals who want to work to establish a career that will pay more than a pastor and a school teacher’s salary combined.

Here’s an idea that several families are taking advantage of right now at Grace Community Schools. Instead of sending their high school graduates to colleges for four years of questionable education, they are sending their children to Grace Community for a three-year apprenticeship program. We provide housing and a good salary while they learn our system. At the end of the three years, their families can take the money they would have invested in a college education and use that money instead to set up their children in their own business. Doesn’t that make a lot of sense? This is the approach I have used for six of my eight children. They stayed home and apprenticed with me, taking college courses for an external degree from a Christian university. This way they earn a degree in the academic world. But more importantly, they have developed the business skills to be financially independent for the rest of their lives. Therefore, why stand ye idle?