Leadership at Christ Church Lutheran and School in Phoenix, AZ present on “Church School Unity” for the National Lutheran School Accreditation’s Best Education Practices Webinar Series offered in partnership with Ministry Technology Mentor Project and Concordia University Wisconsin. Christ Church Lutheran and School share with us their model of synergism that they use to bind their church and school together to serve the mission of Christ’s ministry to their children, members and the world.
Best Practice Presentation Theme Verse
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”
- Ecclesiastes 4:9
Christ Church Lutheran and School
Christ Church Lutheran and School has served 59 Years of ministry and has 2,500 active members. The community surrounding the campus has both wealthy and lesser off areas and is not strongly religious. Typical church members have strongly support the school ministry. Facilities tend to not be dedicated as they serve both church and school, allowing Christ Church Lutheran and School to get the most out of their capital investments
One of the keys to Christ Church Lutheran and School’s success is their synergism. As stated in their presentation, “synergism, in general, may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.” Opportunities for synergism thrive when church activity and school activity work together – often resulting in powerful ministry opportunities.The pastors at Christ Church Lutheran and School are highly active in school activities which draws the two ministries together.
By being engaged with students on a personal level in the school setting, the pastors are able to foster a highly relational atmosphere. This atmosphere is beneficial to ministry, making students feel more comfortable and acceptable to confront their pastor with questions they may have. Activities and engagement isn’t just for the children, pastors are sure to reach out the parents. Pastor Jeff said that he enjoys sitting in on new member classes as many new members are already connected with the school.
Church – School Unity is an Art, Not a Science!
Who is your staff? Pastor Jeff would say that your staff are people whose hearts who are interested in spreading the love of Christ. Even in funding, unity is key: people won’t fund a synergistic effort unless the parties being funded actually get along and have a shared goal. Leadership drives the bus when it comes to sticking together: work for a wholistic mission buy-in from both leadership and members. A community and culture that lack a common outlook and synergy can easily turn the Great Commission into a Great Commotion. When planning, prayerfully consider your timetable. Most importantly, understand that as Christians our mission impacts heaven and hell. Pastors shouldn’t just manage a school but embrace it for the sake of the Kingdom.
Shared Philosophy of Ministry: Mission Field Mentality
Sogaard Scale, based on the research and writing of James F Engel (How Can I Get Them to Listen – Zondervan, 1977) and Missionary Viggo Sogaard, based on communication theory.
Create the culture How Do we want to be known?
Staff and faculty set culture and push the mission. Christ Church Lutheran and School’s Principal emphasized that staff need to be aware that always being watched by their students and should be modeling themselves after Christ at all time. We should be excited about our mission: saving souls in service to Christ.
Christ Church Lutheran and School influences their culture by focusing on family engagement. Chapel is followed by a campus-wide meal in the gymnasium. Hosted events such as parents vs. kids kickball, daughter/father and son/mother competitions with Pastor commentary, trunk or treat events and bounce houses. Christ Church Lutheran and School’s principal noted that larger, less frequent events were better than smaller frequent ones in terms of engagement.
Staffing Decisions: Get on the bus!
Assistant Pastor Jim: Be sure to hire pastors who love your students. Pastors need to all be on the same page and are engaged in the school as many teachers are highly committed to the work of the church. Love your work, enjoy your coworkers and have fun!
Financial Decisions: Money is a Tool That Can Make or Break Us!
Financial decisions can be a point of frustration. Don’t over analyze every penny but share when you can! Their “Make a Difference” 28 day capital campaign raised $1.5 million simply by mailing out requests for donations.
Communication: How we present things can shape the culture
The Risk-E-News Newsletter asks teachers to integrate mission trip activities into their lessons. The community featured faculty letters for new members and internal email prayer lists.
Activities, using the Sogaard scale, aim to bring in various groups of people and minister to them.
What can we learn from Ecclesiastes metaphor
Growth takes time and attention. Guard your attitude and kindly rebuke each others’ sin. Be lovingly honest yet be sure to have fun!
We have to like each other and what we do. We better together than separate and we rely on God to hold us together. In this way, Christ Church Lutheran and School is a cord of three strands: church, school and God.