Barna research and discussions with educators and parents have led to some logical reasons regarding the desires of parents in a Lutheran (Christian) school. Millennial parents do not seem to be grounded in faith like previous generations, but there are four basic issues that define the educational choices for their children.
First on the list seems to be that of safety. Based on what is going on in the world today that seems pretty obvious. But safety goes beyond having a fence around the property and locked doors. A safe environment also includes a padded playground, a toxin free building, and an environment free of bullying. Safety in a Christian school also includes the culture of the classroom. Do the students have the freedom to ask questions and express their feelings? Can individuals work out their differences in a loving way? A Christian school is a place where sinners are welcome, the Gospel dominates relationships and behavioral situations, and forgiveness is liberally applied.
A second characteristic of a Christian school is that of quality teachers. Although having teachers with a good academic background is important, the research indicates that a quality Christian school is one where the teachers value every student. It’s all about relationships. Every student in the school needs to have at least one strong adult advocate. Classroom teachers know that all students learn differently and attempt to accommodate learning differences using a variety of teaching methods. Students who are different are embraced and accepted for who they are by both peers and adults. Teachers in Christian schools do their best to speak positively about all their students putting the best construction on everything.
A third desire of parents in a Lutheran school is that of academic excellence. And the research indicates that this is a priority at all levels of education. Teachers who are properly trained will have the knowledge and understanding to lead students to a higher level of thinking. What students learn in chapel, religion classes, and Christ centered curriculum will be a benefit to their understanding of what it means to be a servant for Christ. Service opportunities will translate into actions centered in positive relationships between fellow students, teachers, parents, and the community.
A fourth desire for parents is one of character development and spirituality. In a Christian school, minor transgressions are treated as teachable moments, even if those transgressions are repeated. Parents appreciate the intentional development of children’s character in a Christ centered environment. Character and spiritual development are among the crucial purposes of education. Christian schools operate with the attitude that disruptive students most need a Christian school with caring Christian teachers.
Lutheran schools don’t want to just develop good students, but desire to develop children into believers in Christ Jesus as their personal lord and savior. In the book of Romans Paul tells us that “We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope” – the hope (assurance) of salvation.
— Allen Piepenbrink