If you were to ask parents why they have chosen a Lutheran school, you most likely would receive answers such as: “I am seeking a school that is safe”; or, “I am looking for a school that has small class sizes”; or, I am seeking a school that provides academic rigor.” Anecdotal data, like that provided, provides opportunity for Christian educators to teach God’s Word to those who may be familiar with Scripture or may be hearing about Jesus for the first time.
Christian principals and teachers have begun or will soon begin another academic year. For whatever reason or reasons parents in your school have chosen to enroll their child or children, you now have opportunity: to teach young adults and children a variety of subject matter, thus equipping and helping each of them to grow intellectually; you also have great opportunity to teach about Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior, thus helping your students grow in a personal relationship with their Savior.
The Indiana District is comprised of Lutheran schools with different historical beginnings. All will begin the 2017 academic year during the 500th celebration of the Reformation. Churches and schools have activities planned throughout the year to celebrate and rejoice together the 500th year of the Reformation. For others, 2017 may begin with events planned at different times to celebrate a milestone year of Christian instruction for church and school as well as the 500th Reformation. For one, Ascension Lutheran Christian School in Gary is a new school start. What a great time our Lord has chosen to work through various Christian people – during the 500th year of the Reformation – to begin a Lutheran/Christian school in Gary, Indiana.
Ascension Lutheran Christian School begins with sixteen (16) students in grades kindergarten through 2nd grade. For many, if not all, this will be their first opportunity to learn about Jesus. The 500th Reformation is still all about Jesus. Our Lutheran schools consistently and deliberately have kept Christ as their cornerstone in all that we do. Ascension Lutheran Christian School as do all Lutheran schools throughout the Indiana District and LCMS exist so Christian teachers and students can interact through Christian instruction providing the Holy Spirit that means to strengthen the faith of students.
How is this accomplished?
Christian teachers are intentional about planning and creating learning experiences that interpose God’s left and right-hand kingdoms. Lessons about creation, exodus, flood, incarnation of Christ, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, Paul’s journeys, history of the Israelites, the early church in Acts, and work of the early Apostles meshed with and taught with curricular content creates a learning environment by which the Holy Spirit strengthens the faith of students. Academic rigor coupled with God’s Word provides spiritual, social, and intellectual growth. And by doing so, that instruction brings about a learning experience for a life “worthy of calling” to which we have been called (Ephesians 4:1-5). Christian teachers are so skilled at discerning which approach, which high-yield strategies, and which questions to ask and when to ask do pique student interest and thought.
Christian instruction is not merely an add-on extra. This Christian task of didactics, the pedagogy of teaching Law and Gospel ministry, is a ministry of the church and not merely a rehash of public or private education in our Lutheran schools. Students are taught Christ is life itself and life abundant now and forever (John 10:10). The same Word that is present and powerful in our public preaching and the Sacraments is this same Word entangled with curricular content in the classroom.
Why is this important?
Lutheran schools exist for the good of the congregation and for the community being served. The sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit – calls, gathers, enlightens, and keeps us in that One, True faith – is happening as God’s Word is being taught. The Christian teacher’s lesson is prepared in effort to strengthen the Christian faith of students, to equip young adults and students to be blessings to their parents, to prepare joyful servants in the church, and worthy Christian citizens now and in the future.
The Christian motives and convictions of Christian teachers make the education personable and unique. What blessings given to children and families even though parents may or may not be choosing a Lutheran school for that Christian purpose. By doing so, the academic progress of students is coupled with the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to create a learning culture for students that encourages and affirms students to use their intellectual talents and their ethical and moral decision-making skills now and in the future well.
In a culture that pursues and encourages relativism, Lutheran schools are counter-cultural – proclaiming the only way to the Father is through His One and Only Son. Young adults and children are re-assured that their identity is rooted in the Cross of Christ, God’s Word is absolute truth and infallible, and salvation is for all believers in Jesus – life now and life abundant forever.
We give thanks to God for Ordained and Commissioned Ministers of the Gospel!
We give thanks to God for Lutheran schools!
We give thanks to Lutheran congregations who give of their time, talents, and treasures to sustain and celebrate Christian education!
We give thanks to God for the partnership we have with each other (Philippians 1:4-6) and with the partnership we enjoy our heavenly Father because of Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension!
It is our prayer that God grant a most blessed and memorable start to your 2017 school year!
Dr. Jon Mielke