Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
These are challenging times facing our Lutheran schools. The issue of funding is critical as our schools try to balance appropriate tuition, congregational support, and fair salaries for teachers. There is also the constant pressure to recruit students (and in many cases faculty). Then there are significant cultural pressures and changing attitudes of parents towards teachers, discipline, homework and expectations. Our principals and teachers strive to be faithful in a new era of education and in a post-Christian society. Why do we need Lutheran schools in our world today?
Martin Luther once wrote, “For the sake of the church we must have and maintain Christian schools. For God preserves the church through schools, schools maintain the church. They may not be very attractive, but they are very useful and necessary.” Our Lutheran schools teach children a Christian worldview that enables them to wonder and marvel at God’s creation and to understand that their lives have value because they are created in God’s own image, the crown of His creation. They also learn that to respect others as ones for whom Christ Jesus died and that Christ, His death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb, is the greatest knowledge of all. They also learn that their identity is rooted not in their potential and accomplishments, but in God’s love for them poured out in the waters of Holy Baptism. Our Lutheran schools give children a foundation for living as a child of God that cannot be constructed in a public school because there is no opportunity there for them to learn that God is the designer and builder of each of His children. As students in our schools grow in their understanding of their Christian identity, they also learn that each of God’s children has a unique calling and through our daily lives we can serve both God and neighbor in response to God’s love for us. As a parent, these are the reasons that we send our children to Lutheran schools and while there is a cost, we look at it as investment with eternal dividends.
The third critical target for Missouri District is to provide support so that our educational ministries are truly “healthy schools.” This means investment in our valuable human resources – principals and teachers. Missouri District Director of Schools, Alan Freeman, has launched a support program for new principals to help them navigate the complex issues of recruitment, financial management, marketing, curriculum development and faculty development. A team of veteran team of administrators are also assisting in a multi-year mentoring program for new teachers. The program is designed to help set teachers on a path for success with a collegial learning environment and to address the important issue of retaining teaches in the early years of a teaching career. The district leadership is also providing ongoing support for administrators and teachers through continuing education opportunities that help address the challenges with solutions that are both creative and faithful.
These are not easy days for Lutheran schools, principals or teachers. But we are committed to serving the Church, families, and children as we teach them the fear and love of the Lord. We invite your prayers as schools of all sizes and all types of communities strive to meet the needs of children and families today by teaching that in Christ all things hold together. May God bless our 114 educational ministries across Missouri and the hundreds of Lutheran school teachers who serve God by teaching His children His Word.
Prayer – Almighty and everlasting God, You have bid that we train children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, bless the good work that is carried out by our Lutheran elementary schools, high schools and early childhood centers. May they be places of care and learning where children receive the one thing needful, even Jesus Christ. In His beloved name we pray. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan