Clark Schultz has taught theology at Lakeside Lutheran High School, Lake Mills, Wis., for the past 13 years. Here he shares his perspective on educating young Christians.
Q: What is your philosophy as you approach the teens in your classes?
A: I have adopted the philosophy that was impressed on me from little on “jump or get thrown into the deep end.”
This started with Pastor Richard Pagels asking me when I was in fifth grade, “What are you doing this Sunday?” My answer was, “Coming to church.” His response was, “Good! You’re going to help with liturgy.” So there I was at 10 or 11 years old, stumbling over words like “beseeching” and all the “thees” and “thous” of the old hymnal.
I spent my vicar year with Pastor John Parlow, who left me to go on a family vacation the first weekend I spent at St. Mark’s in Green Bay. So there I was, doing liturgy and communion at a congregation three times the size I was comfortable with. Talk about sink or swim! But it’s this idea that I throw to my students. God gave you a brain and gifts. Don’t be afraid to use them despite your age. For me, as for most, experience is the best teacher.
Q: What are some examples of the types of projects that you encourage/require your students to complete.
A: We like the flipped classroom idea. This idea involves students doing projects in groups. One project is to create their own church in a real town. They will research that area to look at demographics and then come up with a plan to share the gospel in that area. The students will then present their ideas to their classmates in a Shark Tank setting where fellow students get to evangelically ask questions of the presenters.
Another project we do is have students compile their own worship service. Again, they get into groups and craft their own worship service, from the theme of the service to selecting hymns, readings, and prayers. They also must come up with their own original bulletin cover that corresponds with their theme.
Other projects involve getting out of their comfort zone and volunteering to go to the Lighthouse Youth Center in Milwaukee, canvas in a town that is not their own, or help out at local church events like Christmas for Kids.
Q: How do your students react to these ministry experiences?
A: At first, they are like a deer in the headlights. There is often some, “What? Why? Huh?” reactions. But after they are done, it is such a joy to see the Holy Spirit work through their efforts and give them the confidence that mission/church work is not so intimidating or hard and can even be fun.
Q: Any final thoughts to share?
A: Teens are not the future of the church; they are the church now. We need to look for creative ways to get them plugged in.
To learn more about Clark Schultz and his students, visit wels.net/together and watch the March 13 edition of the “Together” video update.
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Volume 105, Number 4
Issue: April 2018
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