The urgency to make a difference

Can you put into words the basics of what drives your Lutheran school (or any school)? Recently, I visited a school that's prayerfully searching for a principal. I was amazed by how well the students, teachers, parents, and leaders expressed many of the same characteristics of their school--caring, trustworthy, dedicated. They talked consistently about ministry and mission. There wasn't just a recitation of a mission statement. There were no scripts. However, the language was similar, and the individual stories supported the general picture of one mission.The visit gave me pause to consider The Lutheran Schools Partnership, its mission, and its principles. I doubt many in our community can recite TLSP's mission, which is to "serve The Lutheran Schools and to glorify Jesus Christ with vital services that promote enrollment growth, secure third-source funding, achieve academic excellence, and develop teachers and administrators." But I wonder if our principles and actions are so clear that they make our mission apparent. I hope they do.Consider these three of the eight principles.

Christ-Centered Education: We affirm and stress that the impact of Christ in individual lives in our church and school communities permeates all that we do, teach, and say. Books that speak to a theology different from ours aren't necessarily tossed aside, but are used to help students see the uniqueness of the education they receive in a Lutheran school (e.g., we certainly don't affirm evolution, but we do indeed speak to it as we instill in our students the miracle of creation by our teaching of Genesis and Genesis' impact on a Christian view of the world.) Our schedules are impacted by religion class, prayer, and worship and mission projects abound. But these examples aren't separate from the rest of the day--our curriculum, teaching, and discipline plans are also impacted by Christ.

Uncompromisingly Lutheran (sound "A Mighty Fortress" in the background, please): We're not Catholic schools. We're not independent Christian schools. We're not private schools. We're Lutheran schools. That's not a title--it says who we are: Christians who confess our sinfulness and celebrate the forgiveness won for us on the cross. The empty grave reminds us that heaven is ours. God's gifts of His Word and Sacraments give us what we need to endure this pilgrimage--Christ's promises of forgiveness and life. We teach and live with cross-colored eyes, eyes that know we each put Christ on the cross and eyes that give each of us a forgiving, caring look at the sin-sick world we live in.

Urgency to Make a Difference: And here is our individual and corporate problem. Urgency. We endure a school day, maybe go about our vocations with joy, escape to a beverage, a sporting event or vacation, and at what point do we do anything more than quietly thank God for the gifts he gives. (You did thank Him, right?) Our kids are growing up in a world (and you're enjoying it, too) of instant life. With this comes short attention spans, an inability to think through processes and a challenge to see beyond what occurs in their own lives. Tim Elmore (www.growingleaders.com) warns that we're growing a generation of narcissists. The urgency of our individual lives and our corporate efforts in our schools is to teach and instill a counterculture mindset. We aren't created perfect--we're all created sinful (Psalm 51:15). Our sinfulness caused a fractured world, a break that infected the whole creation. Only a gracious God could fix it, and that fix occurred on Calvary (John 3:16). That fix is our fix through faith. And it's the eyes of faith that are urgently needed in our world. Our schools are an urgent need in our community. Our schools must be strong, must provide the best because they must attract even those people who aren't looking for Gospel message--but need it.

I look forward to leading TLSP in the years to come as we work cooperatively and collaboratively--and with urgency--to share Christ with our community. It's a huge task, but it's a task that God blesses and will continue to bless. -- Mark Muehl