Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Declining School enrollment

On the current WELS internet site, there is an article regarding the continuing decline in the enrollment in WELS elementary schools. The link is posted below.


Here is my question to you and the other users of this blog...

Over the past several years I have met several WELS families who, while financially able, prefer to homeschool their children rather than send them to the local WELS school.

Why is this, and is this at least partly responsible for the decline in WELS grade schools? I know it probably also has a lot to do with the lower birth rate among white families in general (which compose the majority of the WELS population).

Does anyone care to comment on what the short comings of WELS grade schools might be? One family I talked to, who actually send their children to a public school (although it is in a very nice section of town), said our local WELS school was too much like a one room school house, with multiple grades being taught by a single teacher.

Can someone else share their perception or experience with their local WELS grade schools?

Gods Blessings.


I have posted this as a new topic. I do feel that the 10% figure is a drastic decline. I would be interested in finding out what impact home schooling has had on enrollment.

I do know that in Lutheran schools there are effective teachers and there are teachers in Lutheran schools that simply followed the family pattern. I wonder if MLC is effectively addressing the needs of the Lutheran schools and teachers? I do know that the smaller the schools get the less attractive they become. This does not necessarily mean that they are becoming less effective.

There is a charter school push that is rising up in the WELS. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on enrollment also.


Freddy Finkelstein said...

John (and others),

The question of Home Education is one with which I am well-acquainted. Knowing many Home Educators in our Synod, I'll warn at the outset of this discussion – while an interest in the correlation of decline in LES/ALHS enrollment to growth in Home Education (and it is growing in WELS, as it is everywhere) may be helpful in determining how our schools could better meet and retain those families and students, any attempt to use such numbers to paint Home Educators negatively is to invite open and hostile war. Seriously, if you think that the Worship Wars are bad, look-out – most of our Home Educators sacrifice dearly to do what they do for their children out of deeply held educational ideologies and religious conviction, and are very well-prepared to defend their decision to educate at home.

Frankly, in my opinion, whether we are losing students to Home Education is the least of our worries. Almost all of these home based educational programs are led by conscientious and capable Lutheran parents. Their students are in good hands. What I think is of greater concern is the detour that Lutheran Education in our Synod seems to have taken in the past few decades. If you study Luther a little bit on the topic of Education, you'll see that a deep concern of his was that the German people would lose the precious Gospel from lack of learning. The German Reformation was a doctrinal reformation, and it was imperative that this Reformation continue. To do this, it was clear to Luther, the people needed to be educated. He tasked Melanchthon and Sturm with the creation of a universal education system, while he sold the idea to the Princes, advocating the civic and economic benefit of an educated society. The result was the most successful – and rigorous – educational system devised, to date. It was a marvel of his time, and is highly regarded even today. Of course, I vastly simplify only to make the point that firm in Luther's mind was the challenge of intellectually equipping the people to value and retain pure doctrine through the following generations. The intent of Lutheran education was to make strong Lutherans.

Today, it seems, the WELS education system has been bitten by the same evangelism bug as our congregations. The disease of Church Growth seems to have invaded the halls of our schools as well as our sanctuaries. More often than not, we hear of the need that congregations start a school as primarily an outreach tool, rather than primarily to serve the needs of Lutheran families in that congregation. I suspect such a shift in emphasis may have resulted in overly optimistic planning, in the hope of attracting the unchurched and the heterodox to our schools, and in preparing to meet those challenges.

Rather than investigating Home Educators for the reduction in WELS school enrollments, I would suggest that it would be interesting to know what percentage of our LES/ALHS student body is WELS, and whether/how that percentage has changed over the same time period, and to ask if the balance of WELS/non-WELS is healthy if we are betting on non-WELS participation in our schools to keep them afloat.

Freddy Finkelstein

Anonymous said...

I agree with the FF on this one. I am a WELS pastor who has had churches with school most of my ministry. It is possible to use a WELS school as a mission arm -- but only if you enroll mission prospects. Enrolling the heterodox has inherent problems including they inviting our WELS children to their churches!
In addition, in my experience, too many of our teachers make the mistake of visibly associating with favorite families to the exclusion of others. Sometimes these favorites are the heterodox, which further erodes the confidence of the members in our schools.
Nor can we omit our skiddish and inconsistent way of financing our schools. We constantly debate how much, if any, of the cost of education should be paid by the parents (and should it be tuition or a "suggested donation) and how much should be paid by the church. We are often the least expensive school in town for the non-member. However, since our tuition is low, in deference to getting a "mission prospect," we frequently miss the real mission prospect who is looking for a top quality education and often equates top quality with top cost (for better or for worse).
We are often fearful of creating a middle school or junior high school or other departmentaliztion in our schools with our upper grades. We prefer the standard "elementary" classroom all the way through eighth grade. This often is a major for parents tkaing their older students, and their younger students with them, from our schools.
The administration of our schools is often weak, due to the fact that our principals and teachers know each other so long and so well. This often results in unwritten, or unclear policies, which confuse people or make our policies seem biased.
The result of this is that our schools often come across as rather unprofessional.
My experience, in trying to make the necessasry changes and to avoid these pitfalls, is that in 25years of being a pastor at churches with Christian Day Schools, I have never had a family choose home school over our WELS school. That is only true after the above issues were addressed.

Anonymous said...

As a pastor with a large school, our training is doctrinally rigorous. Yes, we have non-member kids attending, but we forbid any heterodox ideas from being presented in the classroom, and if a child does make an issue of something, it's dealt with immediately. What helps is having non-member parents attend the BIC. We're not growing by leaps and bounds (at least our school isn't), but we're not declining either. In this environment, maintaining a steady enrollment over the past few years is indeed a blessing.

Also, why would WELS members be pushing for a charter school? In my state a charter school that caters to families of Muslim background got into a lot of trouble introducing Muslim theology to the cirriculum. And this is a "progressive" state! Was the previous writer confusing the voucher system with charter schools?

JB said...

Most of this evidence is anecdotal, and that's fine. WELS is small enough that anecdotal evidence probably has SOME validity to it. So I offer some more. I have lots of WELS called workers as friends, including WELS teachers in my family. Here is what I "hear" are some of the problems.

a) The cost factor #1. With salary, VEBA and a housing allowance, WELS teachers are not compensated at, and in come cases above, public school levels. (The BIG exception would be retirement benefits. The WELS pension is awful, and called workers need to invest wisely to compensate for that.) It is therefore almost impossible for a school to be free for member kids, unless that is a massive church with great givers. As tuition has become more and more common, the WELS members who are of the mindset that "LEM should be free!" have been pulling out.

b) Cost factor #2. Some smaller schools have simply had to close their doors, unable to compensate at synod code levels. I would guess that the closing of many small schools, in the face of a wretched economy, is a big reason for the 10% drop.

c) Perception of quality. Anon1147 hit the nail on the head. Precisely because we don't charge much, if at all, many (including WELS members) perceive the schools to lack quality. This is often enhanced by run down facilities with no modern teaching tools (smartboards, computer lab, etc.). In my opinion, it demonstrates a lack of pedagogical insight if you think a smartboard automatically produces a higher level of education. It perhaps demonstrates a lack of spiritual maturity to desire a computer lab over a catechism class. But it is what it is. Our WELS schools, which were once perceived as not only a place of Christian education, but places of educational excellence, are not always perceived that way anymore. And so, you're in a catch 22. Some pull their kids out, because of rising tuition. Others pull their kids out (or don't send them) because they want what they perceive to be "higher quality" which would require more tuition to pay for upgrades.

d) Spiritual lethargy. There simply are less and less parents who think Christian education is that important. I have heard parents talk about the blessings of LEMs, and rather than stress the doctrinal instruction, they stress the "safe learning enviroment." Granted, a safe, structured learning enviroment is vital to education. But it's just odd that it would be stressed before theology.

As far as using schools for outreach, I think it can be done. I've seen it done. But it requires a harvest strategy - i.e., a plan to share Law and Gospel not just with the child, but with the parent. I like what the pastor posted about having parents take BIC. And the congregation needs to understand the evangelistic value is limited. It's not like a preschool where a child attends for only a year or two. If the Holy Spirit leads the parents of a 1st grader to join your church, that "spot" is taken through 8th grade. There's nothing wrong with that! It stresses Freddy's point that the primary purpose of an LEM is to educate children in the Word. If it can serve a secondary purpose of outreach, great.


Anonymous said...

In my area there are parents that had intended to send their children to the WELS elementary school but have decided to homeschool due to the fact of open enrollment at the school. One of their reasons for wanting to send their children to the school was so they would be with other children and families of the same Christian values. With open enrollment, that changed so much that there are more unchurched in the school than member children.

I am aware of some families that have chosen to homeschool to save tuition money so they can send their children to the WELS high school in the future.

Anonymous said...

This week's issue of "Together" reported a number of synodical statistics for 2008. In two cases, those statistics were incomplete, with the result that an incorrect picture was given.

In regard to WELS elementary school enrollment, the president's message stated: "Total enrollment in 2008 was 19,032 compared with 21,174, a decline of 10 percent." These figures were taken from the congregational portion of the WELS Statistical Report. But this section of the Statistical Report only indicates the enrollment of WELS students in our schools and does not include non-WELS students. The Commission on Parish Schools has provided the complete enrollment information. The correct information on total enrollment is:

2007 total enrollment at WELS elementary schools was 25,712.
2008 total enrollment at WELS elementary schools was 25,289.
This represents a decline of 1.6 percent, not the 10 percent decline previously reported.

The same problem occurred in the statistics for early childhood education. The original report stated, "The enrollment in preschool and early childhood programs grew by 5.6 percent, from 3,285 in 2007 to 3,471 in 2008." Again, these were only WELS children enrolled. The correct information is:

2007 total enrollment in early childhood education was 9,567.
2008 total enrollment in early childhood education was 9,823.
This represents an increase of 2.7 percent, not the 5.6 percent originally reported.

Our apologies for the incomplete information.

Freddy Finkelstein said...

Anon @ 03/18/2009-1:21PM,

Now that is interesting -- statistically speaking. Thanks for the update.

Why the enrollment decline among WELS students and increase among non-WELS students in our LES'? Declining birth rates among WELS may be part of it, an increase in Home Education may be part of it, increasing tuition rates may be part of it -- but these explanations only address enrollment decreases among WELS students.

We also see a corresponding enrollment increase among non-WELS students. I would suggest that perhaps WELS schools are marketing education services more effectively outside of our congregations. This would explain the increase in non-WELS enrollment, and would provide yet another dimension to explore regarding the decrease in WELS enrollments. It also raises the question of emphasis in WELS educational mission, as I pointed out, above.

Freddy Finkelstein

Anonymous said...

I have witnessed a WELS pastor pulling his own children out of the congregation's Lutheran Elementary School and send them to a public school. I do not know his reasons. However, after he did that a number of other WELS parents also did the same thing.

I do know at least four families that took their children out of the Lutheran Elementary School and sent them to public schools. All four of these families did not intend to send their children to the Lutheran High School and wanted more sports activities than were offered at the congregation's school. They thought their children would not have a chance to make the teams at the public high schools if they did not have more experience at the middle school and junior high levels.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I think there are a lot of individual situations out there. I don’t think you will find a very definite thread running through the WELS in regards to the schools and their issues. A few things I have noticed though.

I think there was a time when DMLC was a touch inadequate in its teaching of being a teacher. I know that when I left DMLC and transferred to UW-Madison it was a wake-up call in teaching a teacher to be a teacher.

I think now that they are state certifying their teachers this has improved dramatically. However the majority of teachers in the WELS still remain non-certified. At my child’s former WELS school (one of the largest in the synod) there wasn’t one state certified teacher out of 18. I definitely am not one to be all gungho about credentials but I think this is something that speaks to more and more parents when they are thinking about the quality of education as has been mentioned above.

It may not be true that the public school is actually better because they have Home Ec labs for the 7th graders, 3 language programs, 65% of their staff have masters degrees, and their computer labs and library are top notch. I’ve taught in one of the best high schools in the state and these wonderful educators in the public high school would spend their time chain smoking in the teacher’s lounge, cursing their jobs, their students, and their lives. Their burnt out attitudes showed in the classrooms as well. Indeed looks are deceiving but these common “marketing issues” cloud the mind of modern day parents in our churches. Good teachers are found anywhere from almost any educational background if they have what it takes to be a good teacher. In this consumer driven society we definitely are losing ground in the marketing of what our schools are here for.

I think whoever commented that today’s parents just don’t care as much about the value of Christian education anymore is dead on. They are becoming education consumers. I have often said I would rather put my kids in a mediocre Christian school than a top notch public or non-Christian school simply for that commonality of faith and Christian values as applied to the rigors of daily life. However, it turns out that I am an education consumer within the WELS myself in that I just moved my 7th grader this year to just about the largest LES in the synod because it offers a rigorous curriculum in addition to the Lutheran religious education I expect (I won’t say what Lutheran inner city apostate school it is because I don’t want to start that conversation here).

It was shocking how much my child has had to make up ground. It’s been a painful year as his GPA was slammed and he has had to catch up to everyone else. It is eye opening and a bit saddening to realize that my kids were losing out a little bit. I think this situation illustrates that there definitely is a lack of consistency across the schools. Standards are variable. I think that influences the edu-shoppers as they hear things like I heard, “Oh the kids who transfer from St. Paul’s to the public school usually need special help with English and Math” (turns out that is true.. ;-/)

I have sort of a mutt opinion on the LES’s. I appreciate Freddy’s position that a LES is a service to its members…I respect their right to do it that way. That’s what I just left though. This school year I put my kid in a WELS school with only 17% WEL’s kids in it. I want not just a good education and sound religious instruction but I want my child to be in a school with an evangelistic attitude that is evident and active. The last school was not only a service for the members but more like a suburban country club school for the members…much like a previous poster said. They didn’t really want outsiders and mission prospects in the school. Kids who were different or poor or such would not find a warm loving environment as they might wish. Keep your hair short, shop at American eagle or Hollister, and show up in a respectable vehicle and life was grand.

So running a school as a mission takes work, passion, and strong concerted effort to evangelize the students AND the parents as the previous poster said. It needs to be a congregational mission. One where they should be willing to let the mission kids go free and the members pay tuition if that’s what it came to. You need very solid support and the staff has to be qualified and equipped to deal with the unknowns.

If you run your school as a congregational service, that still requires hard work and passion. You need to keep the importance of Christian education in the forefront of the members so they know why their kids should be there. You need to fight the insidiousness of the private club mentality that plagues the WELS in more than just the schools. You need to find a way to teach the kids how to be evangelists in an environment that does not model it. That is a tough job.

There are lots of different stories out there. Some churches have the tuition or no tuition battle (or around here there is a one church that has no tuition and most others do so that church gets members and students magically until the last child is done with school and then the parents leave. LES welfare going on there and WELS people who play the membership game to cash in on it. Sort of sad) Some have the financial burdens. Some have a unique collection of teaching “antiques” that fly in the face of the edu-shoppers. I think that the problems in the WELS schools have much more to do with a shift in society than anything doctrinal and such.


Anonymous said...

Another factor to consider is that more and more children today have "special needs," needs that your basic LEM is not equipped to deal with adaquately. I have two friends whom God has seen fit to bless with autistic children. One has chosen to homeschool her child, the other sends her child to public school. Both of these sets of parents attended LEM's when they were children. But neither of them feel that a LEM is the best place for their children to get the special help that they need.

I think the cost question is very interesting. Many people claim to want quality today, but they don't always seem as eager to pay for it. Considering that we live in a world in which the technology changes rapidly, it's hard for anyone to keep up with the latest technology. It's even harder for schools, especially LEMs in which some of the tuition fees are covered by members. There are parents who want their schools to have the latest gadgets and gizmos, and they see those as more important than other aspects of education.

Yet, along with the two factors mentioned above, I also think there's an increase in apathy. I don't think people care as much about solid doctrine as they used to, especially among marginal Christians. I seem to remember in my elementary school experience that there were a number of schoolmates whose parents weren't the most regular of church attendees. I suspect that those parents felt that sending their kids to a LEM would take care of the "spiritual" aspect of raising their kids. Today, it seems that some parents feel that merely taking their kid to church now and then fulfills the "spiritual" aspect of raising their kids, plus they're not willing to shell out the extra effort and dollars to have their child attend a Lutheran Elementary School. So, they send their kids to public school, take them to church once in a while, and figure that it's enough.

Just my humble $.02.

~ Ms. EGS

Anonymous said...

People keep talking about LEMs. What the heck is an LEM? Do you mean LES? I wouldn't say anything, but several people are making the same mistake.

Anonymous said...

LEM is sometimes used to refer to "Lutheran Educational Ministry," lumping elementary schools, high schools, preschools, etc. all into one. Given the course of the discussion, LES - Lutheran Elementary School - would be most accurate.

Anonymous said...

I am a member of a WELS fellowship congregation that has a Christian Day School, K-8.

The school's student makeup is less than 40% member family/fellowship family,

I resent when the students sing in our worship service.

Do we invite the choirs of other faith's congregations to sing in our churches? Of course not!!

To have the children of heterodox or unbelieving families 'enhance' our worship with their voices in hopes of the conversion of those families is ridiculous. How would it be any different than rounding up a bunch of kids from the neighborhood and having them sing for our 'edification',
A congregation must be about the business of tending the sheep and lambs of its own flock FIRST and FOREMOST. Only when that is happening may a congregation go about the task of expanding.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous blogger. I would like to see a new blog on the impact of using our schools as a "mission arm". How many do we gain for the church from our schools? How many are lost from the church because of our schools? What is a "mission prospect" in our schools? Are we guilty of trying to be "sheep-stealers" from churches outside the fellowship? What scriptural basis do we have for excluding non-members in our schools from many of the fellowship principles we apply to adults? (singing in church, leading in worship [e.g. Christmas Eve scripture readings and recitations, etc.]) Have our schools been strengthened by the change from being congregational schools with a few openings for those desiring membership in our church or a few other logical exceptions to being schools who accept virutally anyone with cash in hand who claims to be "open to our teaching" even though they are well entrenched in other churches?

Freddy Finkelstein said...

Anon @ 03/19/2009-10:58AM,

These are great questions, definitely worth exploring. As one who is personally committed to excellence in education and to strong Lutheran schools, I only want to see them improve. Frankly, as my wife and I have discussed this issue of the years, we have observed and grown somewhat concerned over what we see as a great tension placed on WELS schools that seems to be the result of marketing our schools to the heterodox/unchurched under the heading of “evangelical mission.” Does such tension ultimately impact the quality of doctrinal training? Does such tension introduce costly fixtures that would be otherwise unnecessary, like an abundance of extra-curriculars? Does the need for and management of these otherwise unnecessary fixtures impact academic rigor? Are we adopting certain pedagogical approaches in order to attract “mission prospects,” that we otherwise would not adopt, which themselves introduce otherwise unnecessary expenditure (yes, certain pedagogical approaches are inherently more expensive than others)? What is the academic impact of these pedagogical approaches and how do they ultimately impact a student's worldview? Do marketing pressures cause us to use Public School achievement as our relative barometer of academic success, or do we follow our own objective standards?

Regarding your last question (and some of mine, above), I would think that a good source of information would be our WELS Campus Ministry workers. Questions we could ask them might be, “In your opinion, do WELS LEM students arrive on campus equipped with a solid biblical and confessional worldview?”, or “Are WELS LEM students biblically literate?”, or “Are WELS LEM students generally capable of coherent and meaningful discussion regarding their faith?” Answers to such questions would give indication regarding an important aspect of Lutheran education, in my opinion.

Of course, I point this out as if I have only just thought of it. Well, I didn't just think of it, and I have spoken with some WELS Campus Ministry workers regarding these questions. I certainly have not interviewed enough of them to provide a “statistically objective appraisal,” but, anecdotally speaking, the rather candid discussions I have had were not encouraging.

Freddy Finkelstein

Anonymous said...

wow. eye-opening discussion. sad to say, I serve as pastor of a private club, and 7 years after arriving, I'M still not a club member. Maybe that's good though.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I think one thing that would be very helpful to restore to our Lutheran schools are some elements that I have not seen for a long time. I'm sure some schools must still have these courses.

I'd be interested to hear if they still teach reformation history at any level (elementary or high school). I know we had this every year. Then there was a course for 7th/8th graders for WELS History (does anyone remember that text book...white cover?) which usually was taught with Hymnology (on fridays..). That is another course that should still be around. Do our schools do hymnology anymore? I know my kid's school still does it but I think it is fading into history.

Then in the Lutheran High school they had a specific class in doctrine. I still have the text book for that from Koehler. They used it at DMLC as well.

I have to admit that I don't think the religious instruction is quite as thorough and well-rounded as in day's of yor. I think Christlight sort of dumbed down the religion curriculum to Sunday school levels.

I hate to say it, but why can't we return to the day when the LES kids could run bible and theological circles around the kids in Sunday School. Until LES kids are bored to tears with Sunday school for its simplicity and beg not to go I probably won't feel like they are getting everything they should in school. (of course I am referring to the fact that the Sunday school uses Christlight the same as the LES...I think the lowest common denominator is Sunday School and the LES kids suffer.)

I'm not trying to offend Sunday School people. I taught it for years. Even as a teacher though I wanted the LES kids to go outside and play dodgeball.


Anonymous said...

Some of the WELS Lutheran Elementary Schools no longer use "Lutheran" in their names. Is this part of marketing?

Anonymous said...

Our school still has all of those things, and the Sunday School teachers sometimes ask the pastor not to encourage the LES kids to come, cuz it makes it hard to teach the ones who don't know all the answers already.

Anonymous said...

Tim, I don't know what your school is offering, but ours has all of the things you're yearning for.

Benjamin Tomczak said...

Tim, et. al. ~

Interesting points. My wife informed me that she didn't go to Sunday School when she was in grade school for the very reasons you pointed out -- she was in the LES getting it all day every day and the Sunday School was aimed at those not in an LES.

What an ideal to shoot for!

How I long for an LES of my own. Because the "worst" LES is better than no LES at all. It's sad to say this, but without an LES, with only Sunday School (once a week if they come), Catechism (once a week, if they come), Divine Services (once a week, if they come), it's just such an uphill battle because you're not getting that incredible foundation of five days a week Bible stories, hymns, memory treasures, that daily dose of a way of life, not just an hour a week.

Kids without an available LES, who don't have parents working diligently with them at home (and shame on the parents who aren't, for they are disobeying the clear words of God -- Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6), are so often so far behind the 8-ball when it comes to Bible History. Which has the dreaded side effect, as some have pointed out above, of degrading all levels of education above it, because you're forced to do more and more remedial work.

That's not to excuse pastors in my situation (no LES). That doesn't excuse us from pushing, pushing, pushing, our parents to take their role seriously, from incorporating as much of those elements as we can (Reformation history, WELS history, Lutheranism history, etc. etc. etc.) in our instruction. But let me tell you, it is an incredible uphill battle.

We need more day schools, not less. We need more Lutheran high schools, not less. We need, Lord wiling, more prep schools, not less. We need more Bible training, not less. As my chem prof always said at MLS (about chemicals, not God's Word, but it is applicable): "If a little's good, more's better."

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Anonymous said...

I may have missed it but is there a conference paper or resource that gives the history of the Lutheran school program since Luther through LCMS and WELS? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Some random thoughts....

I live in a town of 6000. I contacted our public school and they average a graduating class of around 120. He also shared that 120 children in my community are currently home schooled which equals a whole graduating class. The school also gets a funding cut for each pupil not enrolled. Our LES has enrollment of 56 in the same community. While I would not have moved my daughter for religious reasons, it was not easy. We dealt with teacher issues just like everywhere else. What was frustrating was the lack of initiative to try and grow the school internally and externally. My daughter was the only girl in her class for four years. We also struggled with providing sports and other programs that would appeal to other potential students.

Two months ago I visited a large school that was declining. I asked them what helped them reverse the trend back to growth. One word: advertising...may not make you happy but that was his answer. Last week I visited a school of 37. It is starting to grow and they also said advertising. What they also shared is that they had four families and seven children join as a result of the school and the advertising effort in the past year alone. Pretty neat how God used that effort in my opinion.

I do think we are in a bit of denial thinking that our schools do not need some serious examination for the future. If we have outdated facilites and inadequate programs this is an issue. I believe the relgious programming was more important for my daughter but I sure prayed and worked hard to try and help the school do better and place themselves on a better footing for those who are comparing options in the future.

Anonymous said...

To the individual who doesn't like the singing non members I pray that attitude is not pervasive in WELS. You have no concept of what the Good Lord might be doing...however based on your attitude you might be turning them away. I traveled to Milwaukee two months ago for meetings. I had to get a haircut so I went down the street and just walked in a place of business. In the conversation with the sylist she shared that she had a four year old daughter, was a single mother, shacked up with her new boyfriend who was not the daughter's father. I asked if her daughter attended pre-school. She said yes at St. John's Wauwatosa. (SMILE Here Please) I asked her if she ever went to church and she stated that only when her daughter "sings" but she was thinking of visiting with the pastor about getting married to her current boyfriend. I encouraged her to do so. While we may want to get everyone in a bible informaiton class even before admission to a school, often that will not occur. However, this woman was hearing the message and God was using the four year old singing "non member" to bring Mom to church. I worry about the "rules" we like to impose and forget that God is really in charge. By the way, I asked why she tried St. John's...she said she saw a sign on the church property promoting preschool, the rates were inexpensive, and the teachers were kind. Makes me want to visit them too!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comment that supports non-members' children singing in church.

Our churches are not an elite, private club that forbids participation from outside members. God welcomes all to worship him and learn of his love.

Just because a parent is a non-member doesn't mean a child cannot share our faith. Who are we to say what is in another person's heart?

The comment against non-member children in church reminds me of Jesus' disciples sending away the little children. And what did Jesus say to them? "Let the little children come to me and forbid them not..."

Anonymous said...

I'm confused here.
Are you saying that children that are active members of heterodox churches should be singing during a WELS worship service??? (for example, a member of an ELCA congregation that is preparing for confirmation in his/her own ELCA congregation)

I do understand an unchurched child singing.

Freddy Finkelstein said...

I agree that we do not, and ought not, prohibit the heterodox and the unchurched from coming to church and singing with us on Sunday mornings. This would extend, of course, to the children of our schools and their families. The issue, however, isn't whether they are allowed to sing with us in church, but whether they are invited to preach the Word to us in song. When a choir mounts itself in the front of the church and addresses the assembly, it is engaging in Representational activity (in this case representing God to the congregation) – it is preaching. This is the primary issue in my opinion, and it falls under the category of Church Fellowship – and as I understand it, it is an issue which has been growing louder over the years, especially regarding the ALHSes, since the “singing preachers” in these cases aren't merely children, but are both young men and young women, many of whom may also be of heterodox confession.

If we do not consider a choir to be directing their message to the assembly, even though they face the assembly, they are either (a) entertaining the assembly, or (b) worshiping for those assembled. In the first case, this is offensive and entirely out of place in a worship setting. If the school wishes to showcase the singing talents of its students, a concert should be held at another time, outside the context of public worship. The second case is another case of openly Representational activity (representing the congregation in this case), reserved for those in the Office of the Public Ministry. The thought of a class of ministers publicly usurping the privilege of worship from Christians is fundamentally offensive, more so when such a class of ministers is of mixed gender and heterodox composition.

Even if a choir of mixed confession mounts itself in a position consistent with the notion that they are merely co-worshipers, say from the back of the church, and that they are merely worshiping with the congregation, it cannot be ignored that the use of a choir (as with musicians) also functions in a special role of assisting the pastor as he leads public worship. For this reason, we do not pay the organist from the Roman Catholic church to play for us on Sundays, nor do we invite the local Baptist choir to sing with us. Nor do we invite musicians and soloists outside of our fellowship to assist during Weddings.

Anon @ 03/19/2009-10:58AM asks the right question in my opinion: why are WELS Schools exempt from Fellowship standards that apply any other time?

Freddy Finkelstein

Anonymous said...

Dear Freddy, Again, I ask you to clarify.
Are you suggesting that the four year old pre-school child should not sing in church services because her Mother is not WELS or even christian? I want that Mother there, not at some concert where she may or may not hear a message of law and Gospel from a pastor.

Freddy Finkelstein said...

Anon @ 03/22/2009-11:22AM,

Either Church Fellowship applies, or it does not apply – it doesn't apply only sometimes. To engage in Fellowship activities with anyone, and this includes public worship, the individuals involved must recognize one another as Christian Brothers. I italicize to point out that this recognition is a technical term, requiring public acknowledgment of one another's public confession (and of works that are consistent with this confession). Where this recognition has not occurred, fellowship activities must be avoided. It's that simple. And, yes, I agree, this is a hard teaching of Scripture; but it is meant to preserve our unity.

In the case of a four year old, that child's public confession is the confession of his or her parents, unless it can be shown that the child has broken with the confession of his or her parents and adopted that of the school's. I concede that this is not an impossibility, but it must be deliberately assessed if we are to hold our doctrine of Church Fellowship with any integrity. Of course, this will also mean some kids from non-WELS families may get to participate, while others won't – which is not a happy situation.

Also note that this suggested use of school children is simply a Church Growth gimmick to get people to come to church – you're relying on something other than the Holy Spirit's work through the Means of Grace to draw people to Christ – and it is a misuse of the Divine Service, treating it as an outreach event rather than a forum for God's people, in which they offer their sacrifices to Him and through which He serves them. But even if one does feel compelled to use external devices to draw people to our churches, are you seriously telling me that there is no way to effectively encourage family attendance apart from suspending our Doctrine of Church Fellowship and offending the congregation with heterodox or unbelieving choir members? I have a hard time believing this.

If you are so concerned that the parents hear the Gospel, why not personally carry it to them? Is a personal telling of the Gospel ineffective? Or, is the Gospel somehow more effective if we add to it, say, the use of children? Church Growthers very much seem to think so...

I understand your desire to have the mother present to hear the gospel from a pastor (and I share this desire), but you seem to insist that this won't or might not happen at a school concert. My question would be: Why would a Lutheran School have any kind of public event where Gospel proclamation is not central? Are we to understand that the only proper time and place for such proclamation is the Sunday morning Divine Service? Can a pastor not be bothered to preach at other times? I have a hard time believing this, too.

Finally, I know for a fact that pastors among us who have a serious regard for the teaching of Church Fellowship, do, in unique situations, exercise their pastoral and evangelical judgment in ways that are not slavishly consistent with this doctrine. Where such inconsistency exists, they owe an explanation to those offended by their actions. I have at times asked for explanation of such actions, and each time I have been satisfied with the response, understanding the range of issues involved with the decision. But to engage, as a matter of policy, in practices that are directly opposed to our teachings should not be countenanced by us.

Freddy Finkelstein

Anonymous said...

Freddy and others: I think you should review John Brug's book on Fellowship, particularly what he says about these very subjects.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:22AM
If the mother and child are ACTIVE members of a heterodox congregation it would not only be a breach of the fellowship principle to invite the child to sing during a worship service but also an attempt at sheep-stealing.
And our WELS congregational schools with "open enrollemnt" have many such students.

Wanting that mother to hear WELS Law and Gowpel message rather than whatever denomination she carries membership in can be carried out in many different ways than during a public worship service.

We don't invite pastors that are active members of heterodox churches to sing in front of church. There is no difference in inviting a child that is an ACTIVE member of a heterodox church to sing.

WELS appears to be getting very lax in the carrying out of Scriptural fellowship principles. We need to make a clear stand.

How do the congregations handle it when they have "open enrollment"? Are the children placed under the spiritual care of the congregation during their school years? If so, I have no problem with them singing as long as they do not continue to actively participate in things like singing in their heterodox congregation.

My remarks are referring to those that hold ACTIVE membership in other churches (not to the unchurched).

These are hard times.

Anonymous said...

Note, especially, Paragraph 3:


Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting point in the Enrollment Policy addressing this topic in one WELS congregation:

1. We consider special participation in worship services (class singing, Children’s Christmas service
etc.) as part of the child’s total learning experience. Community students participate in such
activities as “learners”, and therefore, we conclude, we are not violating scriptural fellowship
principles. It is for them an opportunity to learn more of the Church and what it stands for. It is
also an incentive for parents of such students to come and learn about our church and our God.
Once the student has graduated, the situation changes. Unless the student has made a
confession of faith, such actions involving fellowship would be denied. He/she would be a
welcome guest in our church but could not participate in the Lord’s Supper or perform in any

Anonymous said...

I wish people in the WELS could stop arguing over the most trifling of points and start focusing on the real issues of 1) teachers who have no business in the classroom 2) unloving and uncaring attitudes 3) a real concern for excellence in academics, not just in religion and 4) realizing that if your congregation has a school, you are a business competing with all the other schools in your area and if you really want to serve kids you need to provide as much as you can as well as you possibly can.


Anonymous said...

And yes, non-WELS students singing in church or in a concert or in an area Lutheran high school choir is a trifling matter. Not allowing them to sing offends far more people than allowing them to sing. It smacks of elitism and arrogance and needs to be allowed. Period.


Anonymous said...

Freddy, I cannot support your position, Most importantly, I believe you are twisting God's word around fellowship that amounts to a pharisee's approach to the Bible. I originally posted the story about the Milwaukee trip. If this is the WELS view on fellowship, I cannot remain a member in this body.

Anonymous said...

"4) realizing that if your congregation has a school, you are a business"

Wow, I've never heard it stated so bluntly before. The Gospel ministry is now a business. This mindset explains a whole lot of the crap going on in the WELS today.

"Not allowing them to sing offends far more people than allowing them to sing."

Hmm, so we should base our doctrine not on God's Word but on what unbelievers find offensive or not? Yikes.

Anonymous said...

re:"teachers who have no business in the classroom" ???
These are Divine Calls, not jobs. Are you saying the Holy Spirit has made an error?

re:"a real concern for excellence in academics, not just in religion"
This parent happily sacrifices excellence in academics to have excellence in religion.

I do not believe the congregational school is a business competing with other schools in the area. That would be very very sad.

There is nothing in God's Word that is trifling. God's Word is God's Word...and it does offend some. The doctrine of fellowship does not smack of elitism and arrogance. It may "appear" that way to some but it is God's Word. We do not do or stop doing things according to God's Word. Period.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to provide an anecdote about why WELS schools taking Choice money and students in Milwaukee is a bad idea.

I served as an aide at a WELS Choice school for a couple years. There was a student at this school who was an active Pentecostal. This student went around to the WELS students, telling them that they were going to hell because their pastor didn't speak in tongues. This same child was allowed to sing in church there and no disciplinary action was taken against this student who was actively promoting false doctrine in the WELS school because that school needed the money that the student brought in.

Anonymous said...

"Freddy, I cannot support your position"

I most definitely support Freddy's position because it is Scripture's position. I appreciate the fact that he made a distinction between active members in heterodox churches and unchurched people.

"Most importantly, I believe you are twisting God's word around fellowship that amounts to a pharisee's approach to the Bible."

Oh please. This is the usual tactic of anyone who wants to get around a principle of Scripture--just call anyone holding to that principle a Pharisee. Such a tactic is phony and offensive. Scripture's principle if clear: we must do whatever we can to give a clear and unmuddled testimony to the truth of God's Word and to the danger of false teaching. When an active Pentecostal child (who condemns WELS children) is singing in the front of a WELS congregation, you'd better believe that's giving an unclear and muddled testimony!

"If this is the WELS view on fellowship, I cannot remain a member in this body."

What Freddy stated is most definite the WELS view of fellowship. For proof of that see the Q&A response linked above. See ya! Don't the let door hit you on the way out. All of you others who think the church is a business and that we should reject anything in God's Word which is offensive can leave with him.

Anonymous said...

I am Anon 9:46Am with bad phrasing!

"There is nothing in God's Word that is trifling. God's Word is God's Word...and it does offend some. The doctrine of fellowship does not smack of elitism and arrogance. It may "appear" that way to some but it is God's Word. We do not do or stop doing things according to God's Word. Period."

The last sentence is obviously not what I meant. Rather than my own words I'll quote Scripture: "...We must obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29

Anonymous said...

WELS has often shown itself to be a synod of double standards --"sheep stealing" is not allowed on the congregational level, but seems to be tolerated on the LES level (Yhy is a non-member whose family is committed and active in another church allowed in our schools and enjoy all its benefits -- including those that cross the lines of scriptural fellowship? If they weren't there, the fellowship principles would not be an issue. If they are there, they are either a mission prospect through whom we hope to gain the family for church membership.)
This leads to an apparent double standard on fellowship principles -- one of adults and another for children, a double standard not found in scripture or the confessions. It is either fellowship or it isn't. We do not have degrees of fellowship.
There is also the double standard on voting. Women cannot vote in our congregations, but the female teachers vote at our teachers conference, where they are almost always in a majority and where to vote on accepting doctrinal papers -- something which happens at every conferene and is decidedly of more importance of much which takes place at an average voters meeting.
(I am not promoting women also voting on the congregational level, just pointing out the double standard.)
Also, if you have been around the WELS as long as I have, you may also detect an apparent double standard in the way money is allocated to home missions by the synod (I have not been in a home mission setting for years so I do not have a gripe to share). Monies are given, debts are forgiven, and programs all approved based as much, or possibly more, on whom you know as much as on the validity of the receiving organization's request.

One also sees a politicking increasing in the synod over the years. The very nature of politicking implies a division in direction and possibly some doctrines (e.g. fellowship and women's suffrage). Politicking may also imply elitism (people feeling they have cornered the market for the right direction of the synod). This has shown itself in "PACs" with such things as the former newspaper out of the El Paso area, the Motley Magpie, Church and Change, massive mailings and emailings before conventions, and some might even add some of the blogs in this category. All this seems to set up factions in the synod, each of which can argue its point from scripture and the confessions.

Possibly it is time to study these real issues in our circuits, then conferences, then districts, and finally synod. We waste too much valuable time of "practical" things which are not "doctrine and practice," while we let "PACs" discuss the real issue of the day in our synod. That doesn't seem right.

Anonymous said...

WOW! How long have female teachers been voting???? I was told that not only do they not vote but they have been cautioned in the attitudes in which they speak at male/female teachers conferences so as not to usurp or persuade the males. When did this change and how did this change? Was I informed incorrectly (a number of years ago)? This is most upsetting.

Anonymous said...

"Why is a non-member whose family is committed and active in another church allowed in our schools and enjoy all its benefits -- including those that cross the lines of scriptural fellowship?"

One reason: money.

Freddy Finkelstein said...

Anon @ 03/23/2009-09:01AM,

My apologies for confusing/offending you – be assured that my intention is certainly not to drive you away from WELS. Obviously, writing on a WELS blog, to WELS Lutherans, one feels justified in making many assumptions regarding general understanding of Church Fellowship. I have debated Church Fellowship issues a number of times with laymen in our Synod, so perhaps I should have known better. Making assumptions does not seem to be possible any longer. Rather than turn this into an essay contest (after all, I don't want to gain the reputation for writing long blog posts...), I'll direct you to John Brug's Church Fellowship: Working Together for the Truth. It is a gentle introduction to the Scriptural teaching of Church Fellowship. Anon @ 03/22/2009-05:27PM recommended this work as well (although he did so in a way that make me wonder if I may have missed a point of application that Brug emphasizes – if so, I would ask him to point out which sections of Brug he has in mind...). I have read Brug's book, although I must admit it has been several years ago now, and I appreciate it for what it is – I keep several copies on my shelf to give away to friends, family, and new members of our congregation, as the topic comes up.

However, for discussion of Fellowship among Confessional Lutherans, I reach first for Seth Erlandsson's Church Fellowship: What does the Bible say? (also published by NPH). Although it is much shorter than Brug's book, it is also much more pointed, and has much more information that is interesting to a Confessional Lutheran. Indeed, I think that it has been mis-titled. It should have been, Church Fellowship: What does the Bible say, What do the Confessions say, and What is the testimony of the orthodox Lutheran teachers of the past? As a description of style, Rev. Erlandsson, who was writing to the Swedish Lutheran church, has been referred to by my pastor as, “A warrior in the heat of battle” – and this comes across rather directly.

In addition, I frequently refer to the NPH title, Essays on Church Fellowship. One particular essay in this collection, Egbert Schaller's "Concerning Christian Brotherhood and Christian Fellowship," which distinguishes the “Brotherhood,” which is invisible, from the visible recognition of Christian Brothers, is particularly enlightening. Here are a few quotes:

“It should not require extensive demonstration to establish active fellowship as an essential fruit of the Christian brotherhood. Fellowship is the confessional act of belonging together which Christians own one another” (pg. 159).

“The critical question is: What must be the basis of Christan fellowship? ...Let us begin by stating that, while the basis of the Christian brotherhood is regeneration and true faith, the basis for recognition and the practical exercise of Christian fellowship is not regeneration and faith. The reason obviously is that recognition must precede fellowshipping, and recognition must have as its object something that can be seen. Faith cannot be seen. Hence, it is impossible to recognize a brother by his faith, and equally impossible to fellowship with him on that basis... Personal faith cannot be the basis of Christian fellowship. Instead, Christian fellowship can be based only on profession of faith, by word and deed, which is something else again... This passage [referring to 1 John 4:1-3], in urging discrimination and recognition of the spirit that is in men, sets up the confession of a man as basis of recognition... We must now amplify the statement that confession is the basis for fellowship by saying that the deciding factor in establishing Christian fellowship is that of a common and correct confession” (pp. 160-161).

“Out of the confusion of those who have been unwilling or unable to analyze the scriptural doctrine of the communion of saints and the fellowship of believers, there has come a welter of confused attitudes, theories, principles, and practice in matters of fellowship. Symptomatic and not actually new is the proposal of selective fellowship..., a practical recognition of individual Christians or congregations, by word or deed, which ignores synodical affiliation. It argues for the right to call a man a brother and treat him as a brother when he is formally separated by synodical lines. ...Membership in a church body is confessionally decisive for conclusive action regarding fellowship. ...We are not concerned with whether or not [one] is a Christian. Christianity in others is a matter of faith with us, not of determination. But practical fellowship is purely a matter of outward confession” (pp. 162-163).

Can anyone who does not recognize heterodox affiliations be said to practice in accordance with God's Word? Is not that a contradiction in terms? If a man, or a congregation, does these two things simultaneously: (a) Make a verbal confession that is correct; and (b) Make and uphold a second confession by affiliation with a heterodox church body – then those two confessions form one whole. And together they form one false confession. ...Fellowship practiced under such circumstances constitutes recognition of a confession which is thoroughly in conflict with divine truth” (pg. 164).

“We do not, in other words, feel bound to declare anyone a Christian, by word or act of fellowship, simply because we believe or hope he may be one. ...Only if we refrain from trying to see the invisible and content ourselves with careful weighing of the visible, audible evidence, can we truly establish fellowship with brethren and successfully avoid syncretistic affiliations” (pg. 166).

When I begin conversations regarding Church Fellowship with my Evangelical friends, I usually begin with these three references:

Mark and Avoid
"Now I beseach you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (Romans 16:17-18)

Anyone, Anything
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8-9)

Full Agreement
"Now I beseach you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Generally, this is enough for someone with respect for the authority of Scripture to become very thoughtful (and in my experience, we have great opportunity on this basis to correct Evangelicals and guide them to purity in doctrine – they have an ingrained respect for God's Word and its authority). If necessary, I usually follow up with 2 John 9-11, Philippians 1:27-2:11 (which emphasizes not only unity, but that which perpetuates it, humility), and Ephesians 4:2-16 (which describes how Christians function as a unit).

Hope this helps,

Freddy Finkelstein

Freddy Finkelstein said...

Anon @ 03/23/2009-11:32AM,

You state: “One also sees a politicking increasing in the synod over the years. The very nature of politicking implies a division in direction and possibly some doctrines.”

I agree. Of course, in any organization there is a political reality. In WELS, we pride ourselves on our humility, unity, and brotherliness, and rely on these attributes as we come together in Convention to make decisions and move forward together. We find politicking to be utterly distasteful, because, as you rightly point out, it is evidence of disunity. And this is as it should be, when disunity is not the reality.

But what is the reality, today? I suggest that disunity is manifest, and growing, and that as much as we hate to admit it, so is the politics. But what is the alternative? How will we be returned to a state of unity in doctrine and practice if solid pastors are not positioned for leadership?

Many good conservative pastors, in a spirit of peace and conciliation, and wishing to avoid confrontation, may play their own form of politics by “rushing toward the center,” while more liberal pastors, perhaps on the Church Growth end of the spectrum, remain immovable. And what is the result? Anyone who has studied Mathematics knows what the Gaussian or Normal distribution looks like – you know, the Bell Curve. Further, anyone who has studied Mathematics knows what happens when the data sampling from the right side of the Mean moves left toward the center – the Mean moves left with the data. Likewise, a machinist does not need to be a rocket scientist to know what happens when the metal on the right-hand side of a piece of bar stock is shaved off – the center of mass of the whole moves left. Church Growthers, who have their noses stuck in statistics tables every day, know this reality quite well. Thirty years ago, they began their efforts – perhaps with the best of evangelical intentions – while our good-hearted conservative pastors indulged them. And this has continued, as Church Growth supporters have continued to hold their ground, become more outspoken, and gained a strong following among the clergy and laity, and as our good-hearted conservative pastors have continued to indulge them for the sake of peace. Today, Church Growth perspectives have grown to such prominence and power in our Synod as to be virtually normative among the laity and clergy of this generation. Will our good-hearted conservative pastors continue to chase the Mean, as it continues to move left?

Of course, this raises a different question. What would a Confessional pastor do? Would he continue to indulge in order to maintain a peaceful political unity, or would he stand his ground regardless of the commotion it creates? If there are any Confessional pastors left in our Synod, I would expect that, very soon, the public discussion regarding many of these issues will become quite noticeable and rather animate.

If not, however, I have another political reality of which we must be cognizant. For as much as we layman may spout in public forum, or even privately among the brothers in our congregations, what we say ultimately has very little organizational impact. We are not members of Synod, proper. I was reminded of this as I read Manthey's paper, 15 Years Under the MOV over on Ichabod. The fact is, only pastors, male teachers, and congregations as corporate entities are members of synod. The only voice that laymen have is as representatives of their congregations during Convention. I'm not saying this is good or bad, it is just the reality. Therefore, we must choose our delegates very carefully, and educate them fully. Even so, not much will happen without Confessional leadership among the clergy.

Freddy Finkelstein

Anonymous said...

WELS Schools exist to partner with the parents in the Christian upbringing of their children? Correct? Our children are not in WELS schools to be raised by the WELS principal or the pastor, it is to be a partnership. The comment that WELS schools are responsible for the spiritual welfare of the children during their school years is ANOTHER PROBLEM with these institutions. When a parent enrolls their children at a WELS school, they ARE NOT RELINQUISHING their parental rights to the leadership of the school or the church. This is the impression that many WELS principals, pastors, and administrators give parents and it is yet ANOTHER contributing factor to the declining enrollment of WELS schools. There are countless obvious reasons, this is another one.

Anonymous said...

This month's WELS Connection video shows a perfect example of why our WELS schools, both elementary and high school, should be opening our doors to non-members.

The video beautifully shows how we can be using our schools as tools for the mission work Christ commands us to do.

Check it out.

Anonymous said...

"This month's WELS Connection video shows a perfect example of why our WELS schools, both elementary and high school, should be opening our doors to non-members."

But there's a HUGE difference between opening the doors of your school to an unchurched family and opening the doors of your school to the nice Baptist family down the street. One is good outreach motivated by love; the other is sheep-stealing motivated by greed.

Anonymous said...

One obvious problem that has persisted in our LES is a lack of qualified administrators. While I am not arguing with the WELS stance on men's/women's roles in the church, I do believe we need to take a critical look at the practice of calling a male to be a principal based solely on the fact that he is a male. As a female teacher who has served under many young inexperienced principals, I have faced many difficult situations. It is hard to watch someone who has less education and less experience make choices that demonstrate their lack administration skills and experience. We female teachers don't know how to help and do not know what sort of input is appropriate. I find that most women in this situation are frustrated yet very supportive and protective of their principals. I've had many parents tell me they don't think that choosing a principal based on gender is a good choice. These same parents have also asked me my opinion on numerous occasions and all I think I can do is keep my opinions to myself and remind them that God will do what is best for us. I am unsure of how to fix this problem. It does seem that MLC has addressed because I've heard that they are no longer releasing new grads as principal candidates. I wonder, though, if they don't where the males for these positions will be found.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this eye-opening blog!

I think it's terrible what's happening to our schools! When I was young, the church paid for everything, and all you had to be was a member of the church, and you could go to school. When did they start making the members pay for school? If we just went back to the old way then maybe all these parents wouldn't have to teach their children at home! And another thing. If it's a church school, then all the students should be Lutherans!!! Why would you call it a Lutheran school if the students aren't all Lutherans! They might as well call it a Public School! But I don't think that would be a good idea either. I hope we find the answer soon, or we won't have any more schools! Then where will our children go? To the public school or the Catholics!