A January "Warrior Thought"

A January “Warrior Thought”

This Warrior thought represents the second 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 Strengthen the Congregation:

Lutheran schools equip children to become Christian leaders in the congregation. The school also involves young parents in congregation activities more than in congregations without schools.  These young parents frequently become new leaders of the congregation.  Students are encouraged to become future pastors and teachers, ensuring an ongoing supply of church workers.

To Strengthen their Communities:

Every community needs students who are academically qualified and have learned to practice appropriate morality and respect.  Since Lutheran schools accept students from all parts of the community, they can have a strong effect on the community itself.

The most important resource within any congregation or community is people.  The first statement above highlights the impact a school has on encouraging engagement and leadership for parents of the school’s students.  This reality is reflected in our congregations with schools in Lincoln.  We at Lincoln Lutheran also draw upon parents to fill important and key leadership positions on boards, committees, and the delegate assembly of the Association.  Being invested in a child’s faith-based education creates a passion and commitment for improvement and growth, which keeps our ministry ever changing and expanding to better serve students.

When we consider formal vocation within the church, a young person’s time being mentored and cared for by teachers in a Lutheran school has a profound influence on those who enter formal ministry.  That was certainly the case for me.  I was blessed to have some great teachers who loved and mentored me, making an eternal impact.  The Spirit grabbed hold of my heart to convince me I wanted to play a similar role in the lives of young people.  Many of our staff members have a similar story.  We are so blessed to have staff who truly love and care for our students!

Ask an employer in the city of Lincoln about the impact of Lincoln Lutheran on students.  I have heard the following phrase countless times: “I know if the young person attends Lincoln Lutheran they are going to be a great employee.”  Our students are respectful, caring and willing to do their best and it shows when they start working out into the community.  The community of Lincoln is a better place because of the great Warrior students and graduates who now serve and work within the community!

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

Isn’t a public high school a neutral environment?

Isn’t the public school experience good enough?

First, a disclaimer is needed. Any thoughts shared in this booklet are not intended to disparage the public school system. It is widely acknowledged that many outstanding Christian students, parents, and teachers exist within the public school system doing their utmost to be ‘the salt and the light.’ Many parents are emotionally attached to their own public education background or their local public high school. These thoughts are not meant to discourage those feelings. The intent is to encourage people to consider, on a more equal footing, the benefits of a Christian secondary education.  

Scripturally speaking, the message or worldview espoused by any school CANNOT be neutral. A worldview is either Christian or non-Christian.  Christ put it this way, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) Is it realistic to believe that when Christianity is removed from a school that it leaves ‘nothing?’ If the worldview of a school isn’t centered in Christ, then something else must assume that role. That something is most definitely a religion of sorts – secular humanism. In today’s public high schools, teenagers are often told in some fashion that Biblical principles are irrelevant, that absolute right and wrong do not exist, and/or human existence is due to evolution. Secular education, officially and deliberately, excludes God from the classroom. By doing so, public high schools will inevitably promote, intentionally or not, a non-Christian worldview.

What does this mean? At best, a Christian student in this environment will fight the constant battle of discernment – dissecting what is being presented and avoiding the influence of the humanistic worldview. At worst, a Christian student will entertain non-Christian ideals; mixing them with his or her Christianity resulting in potential strain on their relationship with God.  

Granted, much of the life of a Christian is spent in environments that are non-Christian in nature. Discernment of right and wrong while in the world is indeed an important spiritual discipline. However, many teens are not ready for 35-50 hours a week of a message that says, “Your worldview is wrong, intolerant, and/or old-fashioned.” Christian parents have the opportunity to help shape the worldview of their children for Christ.

The average teenager attends school for 8 hours a day, including athletics and other activities. That’s 1440 hours per school year and approximately 40% of his or her weekly awake time. That’s a big number! The question is where might that time be best spent?  Current scientific research tells us that a teenager’s brain is not fully developed. An underdeveloped frontal lobe explains certain teenage behaviors like recklessness, emotional outbursts, and poor decision making. Simply put, high school plays a pivotal role in the development of the brain and there is no doubt that it can have an effect on how the brain of a teenager is hard-wired.

The truth is that Christian high schools have the one thing that public schools can never have – the intentional presence of Jesus through His living Word, the Bible, which forms the basis for our Christian worldview.

In our high school, we use the Holy Scriptures for:

Salvation – Our students do, with the help of the Holy Spirit, develop a close personal relationship with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Training – Our students not only learn daily about God’s grace, but also gain the academic skills necessary for success, how to defend their Christian faith, and discover what it takes to thrive as a Christian in today’s world. Giving Praise – Our students learn more deeply of God’s goodness for us in life and faith, and are moved to reflect a sense of joy and thanksgiving in all that they do.

This is a very well written response to the issue of influence within the lives of young people.  As the father of three daughters, I question each and every day if I am doing the right things as a parent to teach and prepare my girls for their future.  I will make bad choices and won’t always get it right as a parent.  However, I know that Kayla, Addi and Jordan are being surrounded and influenced by teachers, friends, and families that reflect a Christian worldview.  

A couple of years ago I attended a presentation at my church when Messiah was going through a fundraising campaign.  Several people shared testimonials about the impact the ministries of Messiah were having on their families.  One parent, whose daughters had been attending public school, stated that when her girls first started elementary school the education and experience they were getting was “good enough.”  She eventually came to the determination that she didn’t want “good enough” for her girls; she wanted something more, something that only a Christian school can give, Christ!  Her testimony brought me to tears.  

I attended public elementary and high school.  I was blessed to attend Lincoln Lutheran Junior High.  My time in 7th–9th grades established a path for me that only God knew at the time.  God is working in both big and small ways each and every day in the Warrior ministry.  Don’t take for granted the blessing our ministry is for students as their hearts and minds continue to develop and mature.  Don’t underestimate the strong non-Christian influences that exist within our society and culture.  I praise God for the sacrificial leaders who stepped out in faith over 50 years ago to start a junior high and over 20 years ago to start a Lutheran high school.  To God be the Glory!

Because of Him,

Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS