How Ministries Connect with Students and Families

Published on February 6th, 2018

St. John Lutheran School

During National Lutheran Schools Week, students across the United States learned about life in Cambodia and the work of Lutheran Hour Ministries  in reaching people with the love of Jesus. At St. John Lutheran School in Indianapolis, students participated in LHM’s online mission trip to Cambodia.

Through an interactive website, students learned about the geography, culture and customs of Cambodia while gaining insight into global mission and ministry.

In addition to the online mission trip, students dressed in Cambodian flag colors for one of their spirit days and collected donations for Lutheran ministries in Cambodia.

This collaboration between school and ministry is a valuable part of Lutheran education.

“In our Lutheran schools, students learn more than their peers in secular schools,” said Rev. Dan May, president of the Indiana District. “They gain knowledge about the world we share — and they learn about its Creator and Redeemer.”

Ascension Lutheran Church and School

Reverend John Stube of Ascension Lutheran Church and School in Fort Wayne leads chapel four mornings a week.

“It’s a large bite out of pastor’s day,” he says, “but it also pays dividends.”

For pastors, it’s a chance to connect with students who are members and those who are not.

“Through daily chapel I’m interacting with kids,” he adds. “There’s an ongoing spiritual feeding that’s happening.”

By teaching the “vocabulary of worship,” students become comfortable with the standing, sitting and prayer time during the worship service.

In addition, Ascension also created an admissions policy where nonmember families are required to attend the pastor’s adult class in order to enroll their children the following year. Over ten to twelve weeks, parents get exposed to teachings on the Lord’s Supper, baptism and how it is that people, by God’s grace, come to faith.

Reverend Stube says the program is designed for families unfamiliar with the Lutheran faith tradition. “There’s an intentional outreach through our admissions policy. We get the parents into a class, so they can understand what their kids are hearing each day.”

Although not all families become members of Ascension, they have a better understanding of the beliefs and importance of membership.

“People don’t know what membership means. It’s a confessional identity. It’s saying: ‘This is who I am. I’m affiliated with this family. We confess the same things together.’”

Reverend Stube adds, “They’re immersed in a Lutheran Christian worldview, so it becomes part of their life experience.”

Emmanuel-St. Michael Lutheran School

Pastor Thomas Eggold from Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne says that one of the biggest challenges his school faces is helping everyone feel part of the community.

Their school is a split campus between two age groups: kindergarten through third grade meet at St. Michael’s campus while grades four through eight meet at Emmanuel’s campus. Forty percent of the students are part of St. Michael, while forty percent attend Emmanuel. Twenty percent are not members of either church.

In recent years there has been more interest in the school from non-Christian families, including Muslims and those of other faith backgrounds.

“Those kids sit in religion class and come to chapel,” Pastor Eggold says. “One girl from a non-Christian background asked all kinds of incredibly important questions that gave me a chance to talk to her about faith.”

These students, he notes, are still required to attend chapel because it’s an important part of their Lutheran school experience.

“We see it as an opportunity to truly witness in a way that we don’t usually have the chance to do,” Pastor Eggold adds.

Rooted in Faith

“It’s no surprise that the oldest continually operating school in Indiana is a Lutheran school,” said President May. “Lutherans’ commitment to education is deeply rooted in our understanding of schools as an extension of church ministry.”

“Lutheran schools would not be possible without the generosity of Lutheran people,” Reverend May continued. “Regular financial support in the form of Sunday congregational offerings, scholarship donations, and gifts to the District all help make Lutheran education possible. With continued mission-focused financial support, Lutheran schools will continue to thrive in our District.”