Lutheran Schools Sharing Jesus
Our Primary Mission
Lutheran Schools face many challenges today. Funding, enrollment, safety and parental expectations are only a few of the challenges principals, teachers and Boards of Education must address. However, we often don’t spend a comparable amount of time discussing our primary mission, which is "How do we share Christ with those who don’t yet know Him?"
So, how DO we share Christ with those who don't yet know Him?
The following ideas challenge today’s Lutheran school to better address ways of carrying out their primary mission.
How prepared are you?
We spend much of August preparing rooms, grade books and bulletin boards but how much time do we spend in preparation for witnessing and caring for unchurched families? Consider training staff and faculty in effective witnessing techniques. Discuss what impact God has, through a Lutheran teacher, on families who don’t yet know Him. Do your pastors or other leaders train both experienced and inexperienced teachers in reaching out to hurting families? Do your teachers know what resources are available in both the geographic community and congregational community to assist families in a variety of issues? Are we encouraged to pray for the hurting? Does each teacher get a list of students to pray for every day? Does the church pray for school families on Sunday? Do school classrooms pray for church families every day?
Discuss the importance of custodians, cooks, secretaries and aides greeting visitors with a smile.
The Lutheran school that is visitor friendly intentionally plans to be that way by training people to share a smile and spend time with visitors. People always come before tasks, so therefore the investment of time in walking with a first-time visitor to the office should be encouraged as a better alternative than pointing them in the right direction.
Lutheran Schools that effectively welcome visitors have well marked entrances and signage that welcomes and encourages a visit to the office rather than threatening visitors to come there.
Compare "Stop! All visitors must report to the office before proceeding further!" to "Welcome to our school! We are so glad that you are here! We do ask that all visitors please sign in at the office upon entering so we may properly greet you!"
Easy access to parking can be possible if staff and faculty park in the far corners of the lot and leave spots up front open for visitors. This is especially appreciated by those with small children.
The principal and teachers share their personal faith.
"Our Father" does not reflect an impersonal God but instead one who knows us as His children. Is there an opportunity in chapel, devotions, church or Bible Class to share with others my spiritual relationship and journey? When God delivered the covenant to Moses, He said "I am the Lord your God." (Ex. 20:2)
Do our congregations know and understand that the mission of the school is indeed the mission of the church?
When discussing this mission, is it a "given" that they are united? The church and the school are not divided; instead, the school is a subset of the larger group, the church.
Do we invite and welcome the community into our facilities and make sure it is accessible to them?
Can the community use our fellowship hall for Rotary or Civic meetings? Is our gym available to the YMCA basketball league? Can baby showers or birthday parties take place in the basement? Consider inviting the local music teacher to use your gym for a recital or the local Jaycees to meet in your cafeteria. Does the senior group have access to your fellowship hall?
Does our Lutheran School get out into the community?
Do students and families have service opportunities that take them into places where Jesus is always found but not always visible? Help others see the visible Jesus by visiting and serving in senior citizen's homes, homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity projects, or caroling in malls and shopping centers.
Celebrate faith milestones!
Use weekly chapel services to commemorate baptismal birthdays. Send a wedding anniversary card from the teacher and principal to parents. On a baby's baptism, give the family a T-shirt marking their child's entry into the faith family at your school in the class of 2019. If possible, video tape baptisms and present the tape as a gift to families from your congregation (from Our Savior, Lansing, Michigan).
View your school as a mission outpost.
Constantly discuss the needs of the community that surrounds you. Encourage prayer that those involved in your school might have missionary eyes and hearts to see opportunities to share Jesus. Publicize the impact God has had on those in your ministry by having them tell their story. Share those stories with those who provide financial support so they see the impact and power of the Word. Be sensitive to cultural issues that can be included in educational experiences and provide a bridge for ministry rather then a barrier for understanding. Invite community leaders into your building to see the great things occurring and to make you aware of other opportunities you might use to impact the neighborhood you share.
Identify 3-5 talking points that everyone from principal to parent can share with visitors.
This common language helps your school community make the best use of "word of mouth" marketing and allows the same message to consistently flow to all who interact with those in your school. Develop a flow chartfor handling school admissions. The chart contains, when, who, how and what will be shared at regular intervals. This follow-up should be personalized to each specific family and reflect a Christ-centered caring for their educational choices.
Involve children in the worship life of the congregation but also invite congregation members to share in the school life of families.
Imagine the impact a congregation member with no children in the school can have when they sit next to a visiting family at a basketball game or band concert. Imagine the impact of hearing about the congregation from a member who attends their child’s function. Invite intermingling of school and church families.
Tell your community you appreciate the noise and traffic they endure because of your Lutheran School.
Guardian Lutheran Church in Dearborn, Michigan, offers free strawberry shortcakes and a concert to their neighborhood on a summer weekend. This nice gesture says thank you in a way they can see and taste.
Instead of hosting an open house by itself, tie an open house into a school event.
Invite your community to your band concert, play, talent show or other event to help them see what is happening in your school. After the event, have a separate time with visitors where more information can be shared. Everyday at a Lutheran School is really an "open house." Therefore, strive for excellence in all aspects but especially be aware of the impact your normal day can have on those who know little, if anything, about your school.