This is the final post in a series of reflections on the present shortage of church workers. Previous posts shared thoughts about respect and honor, marketing and board impact. This post will continue with thoughts about boards and leadership. As a reminder, all of these topics are referenced in a 2018 Concordia Plan Services study on Lutheran education personnel.
Boards should do a review of Protecting Your Ministry. In the 2015/2016 school year, TLSP partnered with the Indiana District-LCMS to do regional training on areas of church and school ministry that need to be articulated and supported with policy boldly supporting the Biblical teachings that guide our churches and schools. The items of emphasis include a Statement of Belief and Religious Mission Statement (these should be related to the school mission/purpose of Standard 1), Religious Employment Criteria, Code of Christian Conduct and other hiring practices (personnel manuals, interviews, onboarding), admissions procedures (referenced previously), facility use, religious instruction (how do we assure consistent classroom instruction that adheres to Lutheran doctrine) and disciplinary procedures (think about parent and teacher handbooks). An updated version of Protecting Your Ministry is available. Now is a good time to review the related policies and procedures. TLSP is considering leading a discussion on these items in May or June.
It’s easy to make exceptions in one area or another especially in enrollment and staffing issues. However, risk to school culture and to the bold witness of teaching about Christ can be threatened without having the items listed above in well stated policy and procedure.
Another area where boards can influence a strong work environment is encouraging professional growth. In many cases, staff need these opportunities presented to them because the daily responsibilities prioritize their time and energy. But staff needs to be part of a culture of continuous improvement.
A major emphasis found throughout NLSA is providing evidence in each staff person's biographical information of professional growth. Evidence includes a schoolwide professional growth plan and the means by which the staff grow together in curriculum and community.
To help provide this support, board policy should be in place to expect professional development. Providing financial support for continuing education and advanced degrees is a helpful way to encourage this growth. For those who have not received a Lutheran Teacher credential, it's also important for the support of mission and purpose that boards provide incentives to gaining colloquy and earn a Lutheran Teacher credential.
It should be noted that various professional development opportunities provided by TLSP address this need for growth. TLSP professional development includes opportunities to lead efforts and to strengthen the large teaching community that makes up NE IN. TLSP opportunities include sharing of PGP points- proofs needed for teachers and principals for ongoing state licensure.