It's a family affair

Enrollment season has begun (CLHS has its Concordia Day on Friday, and FWCS will present its school showcase soon). Be it a move from one school to another or the enrollment into school for the first time, parents will be determining the best fit for their children.It makes me reflect upon discussions we've had with TLSP admissions counselors over the years. These dedicated people are integral to the enrollment growth of TLSP schools. Our admissions counselors passionately talk about their school, demonstrate a care and concern for those inquiring about their school, and provide the needed efforts for a family to join the school.What's interesting is that to a person, the one common message new families and re-enrolling families speak to regarding their attraction to Lutheran schools is a sense of family, a sense of community. But is it more than a feeling that they sense? What could it be that parents are drawn to regarding this seemingly non-educational element?Let's dig in a bit, drawing from a post from Tim Elmore: Statistics show that more and more Americans now eat most of their meals alone. Families find it more difficult to find time to eat together as family time has been replaced with activities. There is a dramatic increase in the number of single-person households. Single-person households jumped from 17 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Technology has created a "life on the screen" social interaction--one that is less taxing and borders more on entertainment and escape rather than engagement.Is it fair to say that relationships today are treated as consumables? Do we treat them like we deal with purchases of food and other home products? Where electronics used to be purchased as a long-term product, now the new phone or the new television is rather temporary (shouldn't there be a new iPhone coming out again?).Contact lenses that used to be purchased one pair at a time, cleaned and cared for use for at least a year (remember hard contact lenses?) are now replaced with daily-use lenses. Rather than taking a half-hour to prepare and bake some chicken strips, we lazily pop some chicken tenders into the microwave.Temporary, disposable, lazy--it's similar to how we treat relationships. Commitments to friendships are short-lived, there's little effort in making them work, and they're easily replaced with whomever will give us what we want.However, deep down inside, we long for strong relationships and a sense of community. We were built to be part of something--part of a family, part of a community, part of a something more than just being by ourselves. While we may tire of the same old same old from those around us, and may not like the effort it takes to maintain them, those relationships fill our hearts and fulfill our need to contribute in a community.So along comes a Lutheran school. Families join our schools, and we get into their lives. We express concern for little guys' lack of energy and inability to concentrate. We ask questions about a child, parents and home life. We seem to be a tad nosey. We act, oh, a bit like a brother or sister, someone who cares and assumes you need us. In school, we have small groups that help teach lessons--small groups within the classroom and small groups at chapel, small groups on the basketball court, and small groups that perform. We celebrate birthdays and baptism birthdays; we celebrate accomplishments. All of these things are what family do.But what may set us apart and put us at risk more than anything within our schools is why we have an expectation of transparency, and, more often than not, show our own warts and weaknesses. We know who we are--Christians saved by Jesus Christ. We know that we're no different from one another--we all need a Savior and the Savior of the World is indeed the Savior for all. We know who the new families belong to--and that's what we're eager to share. We want more folks to be part of our family, and it's that eagerness that's shared when one walks through the halls of a Lutheran school.Here's your call to action: Invite your friends, invite your colleagues. It's time to share the news about Lutheran schools. Are we perfect? No. Do we try to improve? Yes. It's about family, and our family needs to grow. Do your part.