A February “Warrior Thought”
This Warrior thought represents the third of seven monthly articles intended to celebrate within our Warrior Family the blessings we have in Christian middle and secondary education. As a reminder, in each of these publications, I will reference statements from the LCMS Office of National Mission-School Ministry explaining “Why Lutheran Schools.” I will then share excerpts from a document titled “Why Lutheran High?” created by a sister school written to debunk some of the most common hurdles preventing a family from choosing a Christian education for their child.
Two statements from the LCMS Office of National Mission - School Ministry –
“Why Lutheran Schools”:
To Demonstrate the High Value the Congregation Places on Children:
Lutheran schools require a considerable investment of prayers, energy, money and staff. Such an investment by a congregation clearly demonstrates to the community that it places a high value on children, God's beloved little ones.
To Fulfill the Congregation's Responsibility for the Christian Education of its Children:
When the Synod was formed, it became a requirement of synodical membership that congregations would provide Christian education for their children. This was before public schools were available and before Sunday schools were popular. Thus a congregation was expected to operate a Lutheran School if it was to become a member of the Synod. The Great Commission was not given only to parents, but to all members of the church. A current proverb, "It takes a village," reminds congregations that it is their corporate responsibility to provide a Christian education for the children of the congregation.
These two statements represent the true blessing of Lutheran Education. There is a rich and strong tradition within the LCMS to do what is best for children - to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. The Lincoln Lutheran School Association has seven member and two mission partner congregations. Most of these churches have either a day school and/or preschool as a part of their ministry. Those that don’t have schools make considerable resources available each year to encourage families to choose a Lutheran school for their child. This type of support is part of the DNA of Lincoln’s LCMS Lutheran community.
Being a parent is a very humbling responsibility. This is not an easy time to raise children. Our world is full of temptations, relative truth, and many challenging stumbling blocks. I am thankful that Sara and I don’t have to raise our daughters on our own. When I think about our Warrior Family, and the Lutheran Schools Family in this community, the proverb “It takes a village” truly applies. Our families and congregations seek to create a foundation for children built on the ROCK of Christ. We unite and share resources to make possible an excellent education that teaches a Christian Worldview in a rigorous academic setting to create a wonderful experience for our students – from preschool through high school.
Originally Lutheran Schools were viewed as a way to serve the students within a congregation’s membership. There are many who still view Lutheran schools this way. Our schools have become so much more! While the schools still serve students of the congregations, we also desire to be a resource to families seeking a small, caring, loving and Christian environment for their child, regardless of their church membership. This type of “Great Commission” ministry allows us to serve students who may come to our campus with limited or no knowledge of Christ. Some of these students get baptized and join the body of believers. To God be all the Glory!!!
Our friends at Wolf River Lutheran High School respond to a question they often hear from families in the excerpt from their publication below:
Shouldn’t a teenager be able to choose which high school to attend?
One of the toughest challenges faced by any parent is balancing the desire to make their child happy and doing what is in their child’s best interest. Simply put, teenagers often have issues with decisions their parents make, including decisions related to choosing the right school. For instance, friends are extremely important to the average 13-14 year old. It is not surprising that they would want to do what their friends are doing and go where their friends are going. High school can be a scary proposition in the best of situations and going into a new environment with their best friend at their side can be very appealing and puts pressure on parents to give too much weight to that fact.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with seeking a child’s thoughts on all manner of decisions, including school choice, it is ultimately up to the parents to determine the most appropriate course of action. When such a decision goes against the child’s will, scripture reminds everyone that parents have the ultimate responsibility of doing what is best, even if the decision isn’t a popular one.
As for the potential loss of friends, the reality is that teenage social circles are constantly evolving…even attending the same school is no guarantee of a life-long friendship. Personalities change, priorities change, and needs change, all of which can drastically impact a teen’s social outlook for better or for worse. Besides, they can and will stay in touch with their existing friends wherever they may go, by hanging out after school and on the weekends, texting, and talking on the phone, but they will make new friends as well. In some ways, in fact, closer, more meaningful friendships are easier to find in smaller, Christian schools like Wolf River Lutheran High School.
The topic of student choice is coming up more and more as decisions are made regarding school enrollment at both the middle school and high school level. As parents, Sara and I recognize we are fully responsible for our girls through high school graduation. Once they graduate we will still love them, we will continue to support them in a variety of ways, but they will begin to fly on their own and take more of a role in all of life’s biggest decisions. Our job as parents is to make sure we provide them everything they need to be a disciple of Christ as an adult. It is our responsibility to decide what education/school will be best for them. Our daughters know this. I believe they find a certain safety and assurance that in our home Christian Education is non-negotiable and a very high priority.
One comment I’ve heard is “my child is very mature and can make the decision for themselves.” Regardless of how “mature” a child might seem, all the research suggests that the brain doesn’t fully develop until the early to mid-20’s. An adolescent, regardless of how much responsibility and trust they might have earned from a parent’s perspective, simply doesn’t have the wisdom and bigger picture decision-making skills of an adult. I certainly want to give my daughters more and more responsibility as they show they can handle it, but their elementary and secondary education is not on that list of responsibilities.
I pray that a Christian education already is, or might soon become, a non-negotiable in the homes of our current and prospective students. If it isn’t non-negotiable, school choice for our children starts to compete with a lot of other noise - cost, friends, convenience, programs, athletics - the list goes on. Once it becomes negotiable, kids are smart and they know all the right buttons to press. Our children are too valuable to let the noise creep in.
I am so appreciative of all those who’ve paved the way to make Lutheran Education possible within our community. I look forward to continued efforts to provide a ministry parents can trust to connect their desire for growing their children in Christ with strong programs and academics. I pray we can work together to quiet the noise that can get in the way of celebrating the amazing work God is doing in lives of our students and their families.
May God Bless our journey through Lent as we look ahead to a cross we deserve and an empty tomb we did nothing to earn! Thank God for His grace found only in Christ!
Because of Him,
Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS