This is the third post reflecting on the present shortage of church workers. Last week’s post shared thoughts about the big idea of respect and honor. The week before we shared ideas about employment experience. This week’s post will consider the impact of boards and church leadership, particularly addressing topics like marketing and retention. These topics were highlighted in a 2018 Concordia Plan Services study on Lutheran education personnel.
Why is this in the category of church worker satisfaction? The most telling statement from the study says, “During focus groups many teachers indicated that they feel they are ‘recruiting’ students to keep their own positions for the coming year or to even keep the school open.” Certainly teachers and all staff hold an active part in the healthy community of a Lutheran school. Standard 1 of NLSA emphasizes the need for shared and utilized school mission as the direction and guide for its ministry. Standard 2 looks at the various relationships within and outside of the school to determine how all are involved in demonstrating the response to mission with one another. Shared mission and articulating it with the school’s use of the mission is a responsibility that staff needs to embrace. Sharing a common story and being consistent in that message is important. Making retention and recruitment a direct responsibility for a teacher is inappropriate. Teachers’ responsibilities are instruction and nurture enveloped in sharing the Gospel.
Another solution to the marketing/admissions/enrollment needs of a school is bringing on staff focused on those needs. 2018 responses note that in communities where awareness of the Lutheran schools is lower, a school will be challenged to meet enrollment needs. The administrators’ responses reflect this challenge as school leaders consider how much time they are spending in actively building their school’s awareness in their community and resourcing to leverage the marketing effort.
From early in its history, TLSP urged the investment in an admission counselor. TLSP developed a tool kit that includes a job description for an admission counselor, sample media plans and various samples for use in enrollment packets. Also, TLSP continues to provide regional media efforts to address awareness. Radio, social media and streaming services are the main avenues for this year’s media outreach. www.thelutheranschools.org remains a hub for families moving into the region to find out about the Lutheran education opportunities available to them.
Board member responsibility
According to the study, “School boards that are more active in marketing their school could have a significant impact on their school community by helping to build awareness and ultimately in meeting enrollment needs.” This includes promoting the school, involvement in the community and visibility at school activities. Marketing in the broadest of senses should be an expectation of school board membership. Board members must be supportive of all areas of school ministry and eager to share the stories of the school to friends and family.
Next week, will share the final chapter in our "Champions - Boards and Church Leadership Rolls" series.