In analysing the data from the Navigate survey from a number of the schools in the region there is an interesting trend appearing. The results from participating schools capture respondents identifying the school as ‘being Christian’.
There is no definition of what a Christian school is, but the statement says, ‘this school feels like a Christian school’; the respondent needs to ascertain for themselves how they would define a school as Christian. What is interesting is that some of the features of our schools: worship and Christian Studies and their application / use do not rate highly (generally – there are some exceptions) by respondents. There is a level of disengagement with those areas. While this in itself is concerning, it raises the question, what is making the respondents regard the school as being Christian.
I believe the answer could be found in the concept of ‘the way we do things around here’, it is the culture, the way we treat each other, the support and care that is exhibited in all our schools. But what influences that?
One of the statements from ‘our foundation’ from Growing deep states, ‘Lutheran schools and early childhood services are communities open to the influence of the Holy Spirit, who invites and equips for a life of worship, learning and service.’ To some extent I have struggled understanding or knowing what this looks like in practice. How can we quantify ‘the influence of the Holy Spirit’?
Increasingly, I can see that the Holy Spirit is working in so many ways in our schools; it may not be through mass conversions but through the words and actions of all community members. The feeling of love, care, respect and support are palpable within the walls of our schools. In speaking with principals I hear many anecdotes which describe how visitors, parents and prospective parents comment on the ‘feeling’ of the school; this is something which I experienced as a principal as well.
I have learnt to understand and see that the Holy Spirit is working in our schools – the opportunities are there for the Holy Spirit to work through the staff in our relationships with others and by the way we treat each other – in a Christ-like manner.
May we always be open to the Holy Spirit working through us, so that we can portray Christ’s love to others, as we offer Christian education to our community members.
Dr Shane Paterson
Director: Leadership & School Improvement