Building on the foundation
Mark G. Schroeder
Parenting is full of responsibilities. God entrusts parents to provide their children with food and clothing, a safe and loving home, medical attention when sick. God expects parents to provide their children with guidance for their adult life.
But there is no more important responsibility for Christian parents than to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord. From the time parents bring their children to Holy Baptism to the time when children finally leave their home and head out into the world as adults, God entrusts parents with teaching their children about their own sinfulness and God’s gracious solution to their sin in their Savior.
Ever since its founding, our synod has recognized that the vital work that parents do can be helped and supplemented by the church. From the beginning, our congregations have established Sunday schools and Lutheran elementary schools. Somewhat later, groups of congregations created Lutheran high schools. The commitment to Christian education, both in the home and the church, has been and remains one of our synod’s highest priorities.
There is good reason for that. It is not that public education is in itself a bad thing. Most of our public schools are blessed with many dedicated teachers and with state-of-the-art facilities. But as good as a public school might be, there are some things it simply cannot do. The public school is not a place where the instruction will build on a child’s Christian faith, since it cannot provide instruction from God’s Word.
Christian parents whose children attend public schools face the reality that the Christian foundation that is laid in the home and church will need to withstand cultural forces that by their very nature tend to undermine it. On the other hand, in Lutheran schools that foundation will be supplemented and strengthened because of the Word of God taught there.
I have heard people say, with all good intentions, that it is actually preferable for Christian parents to send their children to a public school. Why? The reason given is that in the public school their children will have more opportunities to witness and share Jesus with unbelievers. But parents who want their children to drive would not send them onto the road without driving instructions. Sending children into public schools for the purpose of witnessing may well be putting their faith in real danger before they are ready to handle the challenge. And let’s not forget that children will have many opportunities to witness for their Savior in activities outside of the school day.
I thank God that all of my children were blessed to attend Lutheran elementary schools and high schools. In those places Christian teachers reinforced the biblical truths that they heard from their parents and in church on Sunday morning. There the Word of God was at the heart of all instruction in every class. Far from depriving them of the opportunity to witness for their Savior, I believe that the Christian education they received is what equipped them and motivated them to be the witnesses that God wants them to be as adults and as Christian parents themselves.
Not all WELS parents have the opportunity to enroll their children in a Lutheran school. We pray that those parents will do all they can to lay a firm foundation of faith that will not be overwhelmed or undermined. For those who do have the opportunity, we rejoice that Christian education has been—and will continue to be—a blessing beyond value to them and to their children.
Mark Schroeder is president of WELS.
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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 104, Number 9
Issue: September 2017
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