Our schools have changed. Old assumptions about Lutheran schools can’t be assumed any longer. Financial and philosophical support of a church towards its school is not a given. Some seasoned Lutheran teachers don’t share enthusiasm for the call of teacher, even discouraging students and their own family from going into professional church work. Schools have changed in culture, in expectations, in clientele. Schools are expected to be self-sufficient which carries a different expectation for administrators and boards. Our culture has changed to follow the impact of progressive thought. Standards (and I’m not talking academic standards) are whatever is followed by the majority….and sometimes it’s hard to define the standards!
Lutheran schools remain a rich treasure for the church, for local communities and for the individuals impacted by them. Lutheran schools hold opportunities to share Jesus uniquely and effectively.
One important way in which church and school ministry need to consistently and be better bound to focused efforts are the opportunities for teachers and pastors to work together to evangelize and disciple students and their families. The days are gone when everyone knew each other and assumptions about parents, colleagues, the church and other constituents were on the same page. Today fiercely independent theologies, philosophies and cultures conflict with community…and community is a key part of the blessings of Lutheran schools.
So consider that teachers are sharing the Gospel every day. They have unique opportunities to share Christ from morning through the afternoon and throughout the curriculum. These opportunities grow out of science lessons, from correction of careless actions and words and from an implementation of a rule or procedure. Oh yes, and there are devotions, prayer and catechesis too!
Consider also that school mission statements include some reference or implication of the Great Commission. Doesn’t it make it essential that Lutheran schools exist for much more than academics? If not, we’re just a public school.
So how can we all work better together to provide the “seed and water” of faith so that God’s will be done in our students and schools? We’re intentional with lesson plans, with schedules and with so much more. How about a sort of “RTI process” for faith formation and for guarding what we teach and confess?
Lutheran schools are challenging places to operate. They cease to exist if their academic product is not strong. We owe our families the best of practices so their children can be productive citizens. But Lutheran schools also need not exist if we don’t intentionally, and effectively share Christ.
In my next article, I’ll share a picture for organizing staff meetings and staff relationships around this all important mission of our schools.