Note: There are no Letters to the Editor for June.
Outreach through schools
I have a concern regarding the following quotation from the April article headlined “Mission, ministry fit with education as schools intentionally reach out to unchurched families”:
“‘As we provide Word and the Sacrament of Baptism to children, they bring the Word home to their parents,’ Schmidt comments. ‘We have even seen the Holy Spirit working in teachers [my emphasis added] who previously had no faith.'”
The statement that the Holy Spirit is “working in teachers who previously had no faith” would indicate that at least some LCMS parochial schools have non-Christian instructors on their staffs. I find that very disturbing, because if that indeed is the case, one wonders what Christian influence these teachers could possibly have on their students. What is the point of providing a Lutheran/Christian education to children if some of the teachers are unbelievers?
However, reading the quotation in context, I wonder if the word intended … instead of “teachers” was actually “parents” — i.e., “we have seen the Holy Spirit working in parents who previously had no faith.” That would make more sense, and would be a wonderful example of how Lutheran day schools are a means of reaching unbelievers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I would appreciate any clarification or correction you can provide.
Rev. R.A. Abernethy
Terry Schmidt, who is quoted, provided Rev. Abernethy and Reporter the explanation that follows. Schmidt is the associate director of School Ministry with the LCMS Board for District and Congregational Services. — Ed.
I did intend to use the word “teacher” in the article. Permit me to put that word into its proper perspective.
Lutheran schools are amazing places where lives are often changed dramatically by the power of the Holy Spirit. Included among those whose lives have been changed are teachers and support staff who work at the school in a nonreligious context.
It is the desire of every Lutheran school to secure teachers who have been prepared to understand the Lutheran Confessions and doctrine and apply them accurately in their classrooms.
But, it is often difficult to locate Lutheran teachers with specific areas of specialization. For example, finding a Lutheran Spanish teacher, technology teacher, or special education teacher is especially difficult in some areas of our country. Schools may find it necessary to employ non-Lutherans and even non-Christian people with specific skills in areas that do not require a faith connection in the classroom. It is also not uncommon to find non-Lutheran support staff (teachers aids, custodians, or secretaries) working in Lutheran schools.
Specialized teachers can be changed over time — changed by exposure to Jesus in a Lutheran school. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the unchurched and marginally churched frequently come to know Jesus as their Savior after experiencing Christ-centered relationships with a pastor, co-workers, or students. The Holy Spirit’s power to change lives is not limited to students in a Lutheran school. Those living outside a relationship with Christ and serving in one of our schools are often profoundly affected in a loving Lutheran school community. I praise God that He provides us with these opportunities.
Thanks for that great article on Lutheran schools in mission. I could not help but think of the Lutheran schools here in Asia. So many of the over 200 schools would say they are M&M [mission and ministry] schools too. The number of touches and baptisms are staggering. Lutheran schools are daily sharing the Gospel … worldwide.
Dr. Allan Schmidt
Dr. Allan Schmidt was called by LCMS World Mission to start Concordia International School Shanghai in the 1990s and is now a school developer working in Vietnam, also on behalf of LCMS World Mission. He is founder of the Asia Lutheran Education Association, an organization serving 200 Lutheran schools in 13 Asian countries.
As an LCMS middle-level teacher, I take issue with Mr. Henning’s statement in his April letter that, as a Synod, “we apparently have not been preaching and teaching the whole of God’s Word.”
It is my belief that our role as educators — to impart the tools of success — applies to the student’s faith life more so than to academics. I take very seriously the reality that from the ranks of the students in our classrooms today, God will raise up many of our church leaders of tomorrow. We realize full well that we must take advantage of every opportunity that we are given to share in the guidance and shaping of these young lives that God has placed in our care.
The demands of a modern, time-hungry world steal from today’s parents what in past generations were many more opportunities to instruct within home Bible studies and regular family devotions.
As our children pass through adolescence to youth and adulthood, they begin to throw away the wonders of childhood and trade them for an inquiry that demands answers. Where they find these answers will affect their lives forever. The temptations are very real and our youth are on the front lines of this very real spiritual battle. The results of the Youth Poll are an added proof of that truth. My classroom discussions concerning issues like those visited in the Youth Poll are numerous and in-depth.
The question that must be asked is this: When these same discussions take place in the public school classroom, where might the teacher’s moral allegiance generally be?
The opportunity that our Christian schools offer families to supplement and support our children in their maturing faith-walk is beyond value. It is my prayer that more of our LCMS families would understand the unique opportunities that the LCMS school in their area offers.
St. Cloud, Minn.
What is so frightening about the poll taken by more than 2,000 youth at the Synod’s 2007 Youth Gathering is the percentage of youth who do not believe that pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and youth having sexual intercourse are always wrong.
While it is good to know that 58.4 percent agree that pre-marital sex is always wrong, 41.6 percent disagree! It is also good to know that 65.8 percent said homosexuality is always wrong. That means that 34.2 percent disagree with God’s Word! Likewise, while 60.8 percent claimed never to have engaged in sexual intercou