How Schools Impact Non-members
Lutheran Early Childhood Centers and schools have a two-fold mission: to make new disciples and to equip existing disciples. In 1993, Dr. Peter Becker of Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois, studied the different rationales given by non-member parents for joining a congregation. His study had the following conclusions:
Negative Impact on Non-Members
- Parents were not likely to join a church where a philosophical debate was simmering about the school ministry. Terms of division like us vs. them or church vs. school did not promote or teach the “unity” of spirit mentioned in scripture and often left non-members confused about our message.
- Parents were less likely to join a conflicted church. Conflicts between leaders (pastor/principal), workers or parents were often noticed and sadly stood out as contrary to the message of forgiveness and reconciliation we teach.
- Membership is a gradual process that should not be rushed. Parents felt they should be invited to learn more rather than being mandated to join something they do not totally understand.
Positive Impact on Non-Members
- Parents were more likely to join a church when they felt that the Principal or Director of Early Childhood was competent and when they had a positive impression of the teacher’s personality and the classroom climate.
- Parents were more likely to join a church with a visible and friendly pastoral staff. Pastors or other staff who could provide spiritual assistance in family times of crisis made a big difference.
- High expectations for academic and developmental excellence were necessary. Non-members did not want to pay for a mediocre program.
- The congregation provided programs for other family members, such as activities for teenagers and parenting classes.
- Parents were more likely to join if their involvement was encouraged and they were able to meet congregation members through this involvement. Non-members appreciate communication about church events and opportunities available to them.
- Warm interpersonal relationships are the best way to encourage church membership. Sometimes, we are the first and only Bible some people will read. Care for them, pray with them and discuss with them your personal faith and Savior.