Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recommended reads from 2012 . . . part 1

Books I read in 2012 with brief, "I've never had a book published" comments . . . 

1.  Humility, True Greatness - by C.J. Mahaney
Recommended to me by a colleague, insert joke about me needing to read it weekly.

2.  Mega Gifts by Jerod Panas
Thoroughly enjoyable read for those who have to do development work.  The author even takes time to hint at the phenomenon of God giving back to a person when they give, even though He doesn't understand it Scripturally.

3.  Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas
Awesome. Long.  But awesome.

4.  Theory U by C. Otto Scharmer
I probably need to read it twice to fully understand it.  No.

5.  The Permanent Revolution by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim
Thoroughly enjoyed this read - even took the APEST personality tests.  Made me dive into the translation of Ephesians 4:11 - do modern day apostles exist?  (Rhetorical question - please do not light up the comments section).  Enjoyed this book a little more than The Forgotten Ways by Hirsch.

6.  The Thank You Economy by Gary Van Ner Chuk
May have read this in 2011, but oh well.

7.  Missional Reniassance by Reggie McNeal
Makes you think about our concepts of "church."

8.  Boards that Make a Difference by John Carver
Actually re-read this in 2012.  Never hurts to brush up on policy-based governance.

More to come if I can remember what else there was.  Thanks to all the authors for shaping my thinking in 2012.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What kind of schedule best fits today's high school students?

I have often wondered what length of class time is best for high school students.  Lutheran High School has 90 minute periods with 4 classes meeting each day.  I'm struck by the notion that even the best of teachers who prepare epic lessons might be fighting an uphill battle in engaging this "instant-gratification-lack-of-concentration-please-make-it-visual-and-experiential-or-I-will-be-bored-out-of-my-mind-for-half-your-period-and-oh-by-the-way-I-could-probably-find-a-YouTube-video-that-explained-this-better-than-you-do-anyway" generation of kids (said with all due respect because I love this generation of students).

So maybe a better schedule for more effective teaching exists . . . 45 minute periods? 30 minutes? Every class every day? Class four days a week?  What time structure would maximize the strengths and realities of the way these kids think and work!

Then again, maybe it doesn't matter at all - maybe good teachers will excel no matter what and maybe good students will excel in any conditions?

These are things I think about.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Apologetics and high school students . . . finishing the thought.

So here's some final thoughts on my previous post.  A Facebook reader responded with:

This is very interesting to read but not at all surprising given our society's path it is taking towards social relativism and universalism. Also, I think that a lot of modern churches have stressed the importance of having an experience with God and what He can give you, not about what He has already done for us (died on the cross for our sins). If all we think about is how God will provide for us on a daily basis, we miss the bigger point. Without him dying on the cross, everything else is pointless.

I also think that education is changing.  My students have never been without readily available content, ever - such is Generation iY.  The truth is that I can lecture all day long about the evidence for Christianity and they can pull up multiple websites with the same content and opposing websites with false content while sitting in class trying to listen to me.  They have more facts than they can possibly process.

I suspect they process it all through a filter of emotion and experience more now than ever.  So I am trying to teach with these thoughts in mind:

Less talking at and more talking with.
Knowing more about God replaced by knowing God more.
Authentic experiences trump excellent experiences.
Conversation more important than the conversion (more on that in a future post)
Engagement is always the focus. Always.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Apologetics and high school students . . .

I'm back in the classroom this year, teaching theology to juniors - just one section of 24 kids.  

I've observed that kids have changed over the last seven years since I last taught apologetics. All of the evidential facts that I used to put in front of them to give evidence to the reliability of Scripture and the resurrection was exciting!  The notion that they didn't have to throw their brains away to be Christians was life-altering for many of them.

While this was still true for some this year, I discovered that "facts" and evidence seem to be met with more and more apathy. 

So one day I asked, "Would you rather have me make an air-tight case for Jesus, or would you rather 'experience' Him - even if I can't define what that means?" They almost all chose the second. Interesting.

Maybe more on the larger meaning of this later . . .

Monday, November 12, 2012

What is a Lutheran high school?

I recently wrote the following piece for Lutheran High School's website:

A friend of mine once told me, "Lutherans are committed to receiving God's love, God's Word, and God's forgiveness.  We get it. We share it. And we leave the world a better place."

A Lutheran high school has the same mission.  You can find Lutheran high schools all over the country, all committed to the same thing: being academically excellent schools that God uses to transform the lives of others through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said in John 10:27-28 - "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand."

Jesus knows us.  And that same love and salvation that He extends to us through His death and resurrection is the same salvation that is proclaimed daily in our Lutheran high schools across the country.

Jesus knows us and in turn, a Lutheran high school knows and loves its students. The relationships formed at a Lutheran high school become the foundation for both academic excellence and spiritual encouragement. Lutheran high schools are communities of people dedicated to having a conversation about what God has done for us through His son Jesus Christ.  Those communities are then the perfect compliment to families and churches who value both reaching the lost and raising up Christian kids to become spiritual champions.

And that is why the environment of a Lutheran high school makes an instant connection with Christian families. One need not be a Lutheran to attend a Lutheran high school.  The core tenants of "grace alone," "faith alone," "Scripture alone" found in Lutheran theology and doctrine by their very nature resonate with all people in search of the truth.  They also draw in non-Christians who are seeking answers to the greater questions of life.

Indeed, Lutheran high school communities leave the world a better place.   

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Church 3.0 . . . School 3.0?

I recently read Church 3.0 by Neil Cole, looking for insight and thought to apply to Christian schools.  The author's major premise is that the downfall of the "church" is the three "B's" - buildings, budgets, and "big shots" - and then advocates for a church model that avoids the pitfalls of those three.  Interesting concept to translate over to schools - can we do Christian education without such a heavy focus on buildings, programs, and institution?  I'm not sure that the consumer is ready for that yet . . .

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SAT Success

I've enjoyed Daniel Pink's two books, Drive, and A Whole New Mind. He also has a nice blog and website as well. He recently wrote about the connection between socioeconomic status and SAT scores - pretty fascinating stuff. I'd be interested in a few case studies of some outliers - what accounts for a student from a low socioeconomic background who scores well?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where are the bigger Lutheran high schools? - Part II

My latest post listed the top 20 Lutheran high schools (enrollment) in the United States. 

Set aside the debate whether a "successful" Lutheran high school should be measured by size for a second and entertain the question of "What gets you in the top twenty?"  In other words, "What is the formula for having an LHS over 240 students?"

My theory has always been that if an LHS has a student body well under 50% Lutheran, that it must have perfect demographic location (surrounding neighborhoods can afford tuition, lack of direct competition) for it to survive long-term.  A subjective glance of the schools on the list show, I believe, five schools that are well below 50% Lutheran: Las Vegas, Long Island, Tomball, Houston, and Lutheran High School in Parker - all have excellent locations.

The golden ticket of enrollment, of course, is to have both great demographic location AND a large Lutheran pond to fish in.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where are the bigger Lutheran high schools?

Currently, LHS's enrollment stands at 241 students.  Ever wonder about the 19 Lutheran high schools in America that are bigger than the Lutheran High School in Parker?  Here you go:

CA Lutheran High School of Orange County (Orange) 1309
NV Las Vegas Faith Lutheran High School 714
IN Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran High School 681
WI Milwaukee Lutheran High School 622
CA Crean Lutheran High School (Irvine) 544
MI Lutheran High School North (Macomb) 541
MO Lutheran High School South (St. Louis) 538
OH Lutheran High School West (Rocky River) 440
TX Concordia Lutheran High School (Tomball) 435
NY Long Island Lutheran High School 407
IL Rockford Lutheran High School 397
IL Walther Lutheran High School (Melrose Park) 348
MN Concordia Academy-Roseville 346
MI Valley Lutheran High School (Saginaw) 343
MO Lutheran High School North (St. Louis) 316
WI Martin Luther High School (Greendale) 311
MI Lutheran High School Northwest (Rochester Hills) 297
MO Lutheran High School of St. Charles Co. (St. Peters) 294
TX Lutheran South Academy (Houston) 286
CO Lutheran High School (Parker) 241

More on this later . . .

Monday, February 6, 2012

Beware of the AP Myth . . .

I blogged previously about the problems with AP (Advanced Placement) classes. A recent Denver Post article backed-up what we've seen to be true at Lutheran High for years. Students need not have an entire transcript of AP classes. I suspect that colleges, while certainly admiring students who challenge themselves, continue to look for those students who "stand out," which I believe is the point that the article is ultimately trying to make.

I recently had this conversation with a parent whose student was trying to decide between LHS and another school that could offer the "full AP experience."  I wonder if most parents know what that really means? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Missional school?

In the competitive marketplace of private, Christian schools - I am often asked about what separates Lutheran High School from the competition.  I have often responded that LHS is "missional."  Here's what I mean:

Christian schools combine two distinct missions into one.  They deliver in the education arena and also in the spiritual arena.  In the spiritual arena, the majority of Christian schools are focused in on "raising up spiritual champions" in a community of like-minded believers.  What an awesome mission that is!

Yet, I think LHS is slightly different.  I have described LHS as a school that "God uses to seek and save the lost AND that trains up spiritual champions who God will use to seek and save the lost."  Notice the difference?  We aren't just a country club for wealthy believers.  We seek to reach the lost in our school environment.  We seek to reach the lost outside of our school environment.

Think for a minute about how one might measure the success of a missional school: Number of students baptized? How many families came to know Jesus from their son or daughter's lecture notes?  Number of lives transformed?

Nothing used to fire me up more than alumni who returned to tell me stories of challenging their college professors, starting ministries, or doing mission work.  I am now equally as fired up by stories of students who came to LHS not really knowing their Savior and how God used LHS as a means to work faith in them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

National School Choice Week

While I'm not an activist, I do follow what goes on in the world of school choice.  This week is National School Choice Week and a Townhall meeting is coming to Douglas County on Tuesday night, January 24, 2012.  Click here for more details.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why his children are in Lutheran schools . . .

While my little Lights are not quite school aged yet, Dave Black has a handle on the essence of Lutheran education - check it out here.