“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

The following was written by President Hagan for his weekly devotion, Encourage, for August 15, 2019. It is shared again here in The VOICE as we highlight Lutheran schools and the benefits they provide to our children, families, the Church, and the world.

One of the first things that the Saxon immigrants did when they settled in Perry County was to build a school to educate their children. While much has changed since that first Lutheran school, the need for children to be instructed in God’s Word has not changed. However, we live in a different era where the challenges facing the operation of Lutheran schools are great. Here are just a few examples:

Recruitment and Retention of Qualified, Lutheran Teachers
Recruitment and Retention of Students
Recruitment of Qualified Board Members
Curriculum Development
Deferred Maintenance
Utilization of Technology
Parental Support
Congregational Support

These are just a few of the issues that school administrators and leaders are dealing with on a daily basis. While there are many challenges, the singular reason that we operate Lutheran schools is so that every student who walks through the door will learn who Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. A Christian education is not permission for a mediocre education. Our schools are striving for excellence in all aspects of their work. The support that is provided to our schools through National Lutheran School Accreditation and the assistance of our Missouri District Director of Schools is to help continue to provide an education that is both faithful to our Lutheran teaching, but also excellent in preparing young people for the future.

Some may wonder if Lutheran schools are “worth it”. Lutheran schools can provide an education that public schools and mere private schools cannot. We are able to help every student understand who they are as a child created in God’s image, one for whom Christ Jesus died, and what it means that the Holy Spirit calls us by name in baptism. Our Lutheran schools integrate the Christian faith into all subjects and the Gospel effects all of our relationships and discipline alike. While the financial pressures are real, we strive to practice good stewardship in light of the eternal mission of helping our students to know Jesus and that by believing in Him they may have everlasting life. Are Lutheran schools worth it? Each and every child was worth so much to God that He sent His only Son to die for them. The mission of our Lutherans schools is vital. My hope and prayer is that we will support our Lutheran schools as they begin a new school year and continue that work of making disciples for life and for eternity.

Fraternally in Christ,

President Lee Hagan

Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was elected as the fifth president of the Missouri District-LCMS in 2015.  He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia College (now University), Seward, Nebraska.  He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity in 1996 and Doctor of Ministry in 2011.  Dr. Hagan served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Indiana from 1996-2002.  In 2002, he was called to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Missouri until he was elected district president.  Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission from 2011-2012.  He has previously served as Missouri District first vice-president from 2012-2015, fourth vice-president from 2011-2012, and chairman of the Board for Congregational Services from 2006-2011.  He has presented workshops and retreats on a host of ministry topics including elders, rural ministry, outreach and ministry to inactives.  He has written articles for Lutheran Witness, Concordia Historical Quarterly and Missio Apostolica.  He has led mission trips to Cambodia, China, Guatemala and the Bahamas.  Dr. Hagan is married to Jill (nee Johnson), who works as a speech-language pathologist.  They have two children, Caroline and Jack.