A March "Warrior Thought"

This Warrior thought represents the fourth 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 LCMSOffice 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.

The following statement comes from the LCMS Office of National Mission - School Ministry – “Why Lutheran Schools:”

To Help Children See All of Their Lives from the Perspective of God's Word:

As the Christian faith is integrated into their lives, Christian decision-making and problem solving are facilitated.

Preparation is the word that comes to mind when I read the statement above.  

Think about the number of decisions we make each day.  Every decision results in consequences, either good or bad.  Most decisions are relatively small and are made without critical thought.  Some decisions are monumental and could alter the course of life.  Even as an adult, I don’t always wrestle through tough decisions by contemplating “What would Jesus do?”  We are blessed at Lincoln Lutheran to help students grow in their decision-making skills daily.

There is so much information readily available to our children.  They can type a few key strokes or ask Siri to find what they need.  Every piece of information is created with underlying assumptions and influences.  Yes - I said every piece!  Christ-centered education can help build the skills our students need to think critically about the information they consume.  The longer our youth learn in an environment that will challenge them to think critically as a Christian, with a Christ-centered worldview, the better equipped they will be to navigate the misinformation that exists in the world.  Because the brain doesn’t fully mature until after high school, secondary Christian education is critical in preparing students to function with a Christian worldview as an adult!  

Our friends at Wolf River Lutheran High School respond to questions they often hear from families in the excerpt from their publication below:

Shouldn’t Christian teens be witnesses in the public high school system?

Aren’t Christians called to be the ‘salt and the light?’

Witnessing for Christ takes on three basic forms: intentional evangelism, sharing Christ through word and deed, and defending the faith.  Ask yourself this, is the average Christian teenager equipped to actively engage in all three types?  For example, are they ready to answer questions like these if posed to them by a classmate or a teacher?

How do you know that God exists?  Isn’t the Bible just a book of legends and half-truths?  How do you know that Jesus really rose from the dead?  What right do you have to suggest that Christianity is the only way to heaven?  Aren’t all religions valid?  Don’t they all end in the same result?  If your God is so great, why do bad things happen?

Better yet, direct these types of questions to a teenager you know.  If his or her answers are slow to come, vague, or sound less than confident, then you might want to consider the possibility that many teens may not be an open witness for Jesus Christ or an active defender of the faith in a secular environment.  A FEW Christian teenagers may well have the gift of evangelism and actively speak of their faith in the public high school setting.  For others, their actions and relationships may be an effective Christian model for their peers.  Yet, the majority of adolescents will be uncomfortable speaking of their faith or openly resisting peer negative pressure largely because they are undertrained, untested, and discouraged from doing so.

The analogies are endless.  We don’t send untrained soldiers into combat, we don’t call pastors to lead a congregation without first going to the seminary, and we don’t let surgeons operate without proving their expertise.  Doesn’t it seem a little odd that we would send our Christian youth into a non-Christian environment with only the slightest hope of being effective witnesses?

The teachers of Wolf River Lutheran High School are committed and trained to teach their students to be witnesses to others and to better defend their Christian faith effectively in an open marketplace of ideas.  The existence of God, the historical reliability of the Bible, Jesus’ resurrection, and the validity of Christianity as a proper worldview are topics that are objectively studied within our walls and across all academic disciplines.  God’s Word is used to educate students as disciples.  Our students can then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, be a bold witness and example to their peers and acquaintances both during and beyond their high school years.  In fact, you could make the argument that the emphasis of evangelism and proper guidance while attending a Christian high school may increase the likelihood of a teen sharing his or her faith with a non-Christian peer.

Sharing Jesus Christ can be a daunting task even for mature adults.  Development as a disciple for Christ is a life-long affair.  Therefore, it is important for us as Christians to arm our youth with the tools that they need to adequately defend their faith and spread the Gospel.  It is vital to live the words of St. Peter in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give a reason to anyone who asks for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Wolf River Lutheran High School believes that a Christian education through 8th grade, the successful completion of Confirmation, and regular participation in personal Bible study are all valuable steps in the spiritual maturation process.  However, we also firmly believe that a Christ-centered secondary education can prove invaluable to both student and family and is capable of strengthening the mind and soul of any teen – Christian or not.

Because this is so well written, I don’t have a lot to add.  We certainly desire for our students to grow the skills and confidence to be bold in the sharing of their faith.  This becomes more natural for kids when their personal relationship with God grows deep and when they acquire the knowledge and skills to become confident in sharing their faith.  Let’s be honest, this is tough for most adults.  As a parent, I believe sending my children to Lincoln Lutheran through high school is putting a rock-solid foundation in place so they can be a fertile soil for God to grow His seed for the kingdom!

I will close by sharing that I recently attended the annual Association of Lutheran Secondary School’s conference in Nashville, TN.  I have been blessed to attend this conference a number of times in the past 13 years.  One of the biggest blessings is being reminded of the Lutheran School community that exists around the world.  More importantly, I get to spend time with hundreds of school leaders who care deeply about students and are passionate about the importance of Christian Education!  What a blessing!

God bless your family as you celebrate the gift of grace found in a cross and empty tomb!

Because of Him,

Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS