The Mid-South District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has schools that work together with parents to build children’s faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this district we support 1 high school, 10 elementary schools, and 22 early childhood centers. So, the question that I would like to address is, “How does faith at home improve the effectiveness of the schools?”
Teaching children and teenagers to develop Christian values and character takes the entire community of believers. At home the parents of the children need to give positive support, communicate well, and set responsibilities and boundaries. The community itself should be caring, value the youth, and have positive peer influences. The church should have positive adult role models, be honest in everything, and engage the youth in the work of the church. The school must have a caring climate, set boundaries and high expectations, and involve the parents.
Ben Freudenberg, in his book The Family Friendly Church states four family practices that are particularly important in helping young people grow in their faith. (p. 17)
1. Talking about faith with your mother.
2. Talking about faith with your father.
3. Having family devotions or prayer time.
4. Doing family projects to help other
Building positive relationships is key to all humans. Parents are of course the key faith developers for their children both positively and negatively, and it’s important for both church and school to help parents understand their role in helping children grow in their Christian faith. Rev. Todd A Biermann states it quite clearly in his book Handing Out Life when he points to Jesus as our number one priority in building relationships. And what follows you might ask? Well as we order our priorities, they should be spouse, family, other believers, and the world. You see that is where we often go astray because we put worldly relationships too far to the top.
In terms of faith development in children, parents have always been given the primary role to instruct and be an example for their children. Today’s busy lives make it difficult to prioritize schedules and resources, but engaged Christian parents are to be consistent in their church attendance, prayers, family devotions and reading the Bible. As it says in 3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Statistics have shown that parents are willing to provide spiritual leadership for their children, but often feel ill equipped to do so. This is where the church and school can aid the parents in being the spiritual leader for their children. The school and church can help the children and youth understand their lives as forgiven sinners with the promise of eternal life because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The schools in our district not only offer a great curriculum, but also offer the care and nurturing needed by the children that God has put into their midst. The number one goal has always been and will always be to see each and every child in heaven one day. Schools and churches are meant to support the parents by developing short-term and long-term relationships. May the Holy Spirit guide us all to that end.