So, I ask again. Are we ready? This may be the perfect time to save people from current or future liberal teaching in the public schools. The question is: As a church, will we be passive observers or active participants?
Synod or District SupportFor many years the larger church body of the LCMS has sat in the stands and watched the game from the sidelines, cheering on the players and hoping they do well. They publish statistics and encouragingly talk about how well schools are doing and lauding their excellent academics, while enrollment numbers decrease to the point where most PreK-8 schools are growing down (creating daycares) because they can’t seem to recruit (and retain) older students.
So often in the church (and in schools) the answer is about more money. “We need more money!” “If we don’t raise more funds we will have to close!” But, money is not the problem, so money is not the answer. The problem is that many Lutheran schools were created to educate the children in the congregation that sponsors the school, and the days of people wanting to come to a Lutheran school simply because it is a Lutheran school, are long gone. Today, most Lutheran schools struggle to compete with traditional and charter public schools. They don’t even know where to begin and they have nowhere to turn for guidance. The time is ripe, my friends!!
Currently, the leadership of the church (synodical and/or district) have people in place to help schools deal with conflict and paperwork. Unfortunately, that’s not where the help is needed. Schools need someone who can help with:
- Marketing. Lutheran schools fail miserably at this. They need to stop hiding their light under a bowl, hoping somebody will notice they are there. It’s time to put it on a stand so the light can shine before others and glorify our Father in heaven. Schools need help finding their strengths and learning how to market to them. They need to let people know what they teach in health and their Biblical/family values without pointing fingers or making negative remarks about other schools.
- Raising Standards and Expectations. People are looking for schools that are excellent academically and a safe place where their children will thrive. Excellent schools have programs that embrace change and many Lutheran schools are so resistant to change that they don't even recognize that their standards have slipped!
- Defining or Redefining board structure and leadership. Schools have different problems and needs than do churches. School boards need to be trained! (It hasn't been updated recently, but I freely share my Lutheran School Board Information Guide).
- Separating school and church finances. A lot of people disagree with this one, but schools that cannot stand on their own financially should not depend on the church to bail them out. It is a recipe for disaster!
So, I ask yet again. Are we ready? Will church leaders (okay, this part doesn’t include me as I am just a woman with a vision) throw money at the problem or provide real help? Are they ready to take advantage of the opportunity that God has provided for our schools to play a part in reaching out to a lost society or, as a church, have we become salt that has lost its saltiness? Will we sit in the stands, hoping somebody on the field will come up with a big play and be able to execute it on their own or will we join the team and provide the help they desperately need?