Our schools and early childhood services are, and will continue to be, welcoming and inclusive places of learning for staff and students from all traditions. However, one of the potential traps facing Lutheran education in the quest for inclusiveness is a bland attempt at ecumenism and syncretism where aspiring to teach anything inoffensively ‘kind-of Christian sounding’ will do. But Lutherans are Christians who are deeply into words and The Word. Key to our Lutheran identity is being confessional which means that our beliefs are written down in core documents and we can explore, discuss and debate them (and debate them we do!).
Over the years, leaders within Lutheran education have applied Lutheran theology to the education context in multiple resources available on the LEA website. The Lutheran lens statements in Growing deep provide a summary. Lutheran schools and early childhood services, as part of the mission of the Lutheran church, are communities:
- of worship and service, sharing and living the good news of Jesus Christ.
- which acknowledge God as creator and join in the ongoing creation and care of the world and all people.
- that recognise that God has intentionally created each person and that each person is uniquely gifted to live in relationship with God and others.
- where grace abounds. While recognising the brokenness of humanity, they reflect the unconditional love of the Father, revealed through the saving work of his Son, Jesus.
- open to the influence of the Holy Spirit, who invites and equips for a life of worship, learning and service.
- that value learning as God’s gift to people for their wonder, growth, and to inspire them to respond to the needs of the world.
- of hope, nurtured by the promises of God’s word, love and forgiveness which empower staff and students to embrace the future with confidence.
These statements are to be taken as a whole rather than a selection to pick and choose from. They are also the goals of every Lutheran school and early childhood service; and they are absolute, not relative, goals. They do not only look for higher ATARS or more medals or better buildings or largest enrolments or most solar panels or nicer people. Absolute goals set us free from worldly comparisons and competitions. They free us to be in the world but not of it. They give us the freedom to be distinctive rather than merely having points of difference; to love radically; to question and challenge trends in education and society; to create and innovate; to define quality education according to each child; and to be flexible and adaptable to serve in any time and place.
The Lutheran lens helps us to stay focused on whose we are and why we are. In Christ alone, through faith alone, we are free to be instruments of God in schools and early childhood services.
Our leaders educate, inspire and guide their communities towards these goals. LEA and the regions support our leaders in this aim through training, retreats, networks and personal support. Leaders access ALC units to equip them with a rigorous understanding of our confessions and what they mean for education. The LCA requires school principals to be Lutheran which supports the principal to demonstrate the authenticity inherent in teaching what you believe. Other opportunities for current and emerging leaders are highlighted elsewhere in this eNews and in regional newsletters.
We are excited to have launched a brand new resource. All leaders have just received a copy of Nev Grieger’s book Fuelling the fire. This complements our other resources by bringing the first person narrative to what it means to be the spiritual leader. It is a tool for a self-check for spiritual leadership or simply to soak in its inspiration. You can contact LEA@lutheran.edu.au for a copy or download it from the LEA website.
Associate Professor Lisa Schmidt, Executive Director LEA
Want to read more?
- The Lutheran School as a Place of Ministry and Mission
- LCA Staffing Policy for Lutheran Schools
- The Teacher in the Lutheran School
- The LCA and its Schools
- The Reuther Oration is designed to provoke and promote thinking about an aspect of Lutheran education. The Oration is usually delivered as part of the National Principals’ Conference. You can read past papers on the LEA website here