Pastor or Teacher?

I observed, as an outsider and a guest, a congregational voters’ meeting that was trying to decide whether to call as their school’s principal a pastor or a teacher. Strangely missing from the discussion was the doctrine of vocation. A member asked me to blog about this, so as to solicit my readers’ famous insights.

An earlier version of this post gave my views, but I decided to cut them out for now. What do you think? In light of the doctrine of vocation, what is a pastor called (and equipped) to do? What is a principal called (and equipped) to do? How would you vote on whether to call a pastor or a teacher to be principal of your parochial school?

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  • An interesting question! Pastor or Principal? Are they separate vocations?

    My answer is shaped by the fact that I entered seminary with an undergraduate education degree and taught in various grades 7-12 during the seminary years. Just before arriving at my first call (mid-1970’s), as an associate pastor, the principal at that church resigned and they asked (called) me to serve also as “acting principal.” 12 years later, the “acting” had been dropped and I was juggling grades 7-8, principal, and somewhat diminished pastoral roles. I also had picked up a Masters in Ed. Admin.

    I find it difficult to imagine being a principal without the depth of theological preparation, or for that matter, being a pastor without the experience with the classroom and with families from the viewpoint of the classroom.

    I have been told many times (whether it is correct I do not know) that in Synodical Conference circles, particularly, LCMS, a man’s first call was often as assistant pastor and often the assistant pastor was expected to serve as a teacher (less often principal) in the school. I have a number for colleagues older than myself who started out this way.

    As we in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod are opening schools on the classical Lutheran model we are in need of educators with a deep theological insight, administrative ability, and the ability to teach one of the classical languages. It is only reasonable to look to the seminary where we have people who meet all those requirements.

    You may wish to make the argument that Pastor and principal or principal-teacher are two different vocations as Paul’s vocations as tentmaker and apostle. We all have more than one vocation, after all.

    I believe that there are some who are uniquely qualified to serve in the vocation of pastor, whose oversight includes the whole flock, including the school.

    The most practical problem, however, is time. Such tasks as athletic coordination, plant supervision, scheduling, and buses can be handled by a capable administrative assistant.

    That’s enough, I am interested in reading any responses.

  • Bror Erickson

    I wonder what the motivation is to hire a pastor for that position. No doubt that a pastor could do the job, But are they trying to get a two for one here? Principal and youth pastor? Then there might be some conflicting messages sent.
    Rolf Preus wrote an interesting piece not to long ago stemming from the debate in the ELS, over the differences between Pastors and Teachers. Teachers, he said, really can’t let the Gospel rule in the classroom. Pastors can’t afford to be defined by the law. Well I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist. So in essence a pastor who becomes a principal, is going to have to give up being a pastor. It would be a poor teacher who had to forgive undone homework assignments. Of course this conflict of interest only goes so far. We pastors have to walk this line for our confirmation classes also. Seminary college and seminary professors also have to walk this line. But you do what your called to do. A principal has to be a principal. It doesn’t mean he couldn’t fill in a sermon, but I don’t think he could be known as both a principal and the pastor. It might be hard for the students to determine which hat he is wearing.

  • I’m new to the Lutheran scene, so maybe I’m missing something, but it seems the role of principal is very significantly different from that of a pastor. There is some overlap. But a principal has to know: how to manage an educational workforce; how to construct and manage an academically sound curriculum; how to handle discipline problems among the students; how to manage the school budget; how to create an effective work environment for teachers; what the latest theories and approaches to teaching and learning are and how they all compare to each other; and so forth. And s/he has to be able to do all this from a distinctly Christian point of view.

    It’s a highly technical job that requires a lot of specialized training and smarts to do. You can’t just plug in a pastor and expect him to be an effective principal, or vice versa. The same could really be said for teachers; some teachers would make horrible principals. So I’m not sure why the original choice — whether to call a pastor or a teacher to be the principal — is even in play, unless in this particular situation the congregation has two people specifically in mind, one a pastor and the other a teacher, and is trying to make up their minds.

    Also, couldn’t the principal of a Lutheran school be female? Whereas not so for pastors?

    I’d vote simply to pick the best qualified candidate based on the specifications of the job. Whether they are a pastor on the one hand or a teacher on the other is not the most relevant thing — what does their resume say?

  • fwsonnek

    Let’s make this all about Jesus here. Then things become quite clear I think.

    The holy apostle saint Paul appointed pastors in cities throughout asia minor. Those pastors only job was to proclaim Christ’s death until his return. To lead their people with the supper, preached word and the prayers (liturgy). They were to make saints by baptizing and teaching and so join men and women to Christ.

    The call, vocation, and SOLE charter of pastors, as pastors, is EXCLUSIVELY about bringing the Holy Gospel and all it’s articles to the world. It is the world highest calling. It is unique in the world and there is no other institution that can replace it.

    It is therefore not good for those men to wait on tables. They have a commission to carry out and if they are distracted from that one commission, then there is no one to carry it out in their placed.

    This is all 3rd article gift of calling, gathering and enlightening and keeping, which delivers and seals to us ALL the second article gifts of Christ Jesus our Lord. This is ALL about JESUS.

    The role of teacher is ALL about the first article. It is the work of father and mother for their children, which has been delegated to teachers. It is a work of service to the community. it is a good work done by the congretation as a service to the community. It is good if this is done for free and for all who come, and not just for the members of the congregation. It is not a missionary effort. This is what the pastor does and equips his flock to feed and direct souls to him.

    Now then. A pastor is ALSO a christian and member of a congregation. He is free to be also a teacher, and a member of the congregation who picks up the trash around the church grounds. And a pastor CAN also be a principal of a school with no sin being committed. All things are permissible, but not all things are expedient.

    But it is more optimal for him to be busy about the one thing needful. It is not good for him to wait on tables. Others should be appointed who are wise if possible.

    The imperative is Christ Crucified. As a church all must be radically curved and centered around lifting him up in the community. Congregations must support their pastor, even against his own control tendencies and wish to be involved in everything, to focus to pray and preach and administer the sacraments of body and blood and water and the words of reconciliation.

    If the church stops focussing on Christ through their called and ordained servants of the word, there is NO one that will take their place. Rotary clubs, and many other civic organizations CAN provide education, and moral training, and support for the poor and homeless.

    The church has a place in doing all of this, through means that leave no questions as to the PRIMARY and SOLE purpose for the existence of pastor and church gathered around ALTAR, FONT, PULPIT and ABSOLUTION.

    In summary, affairs of the church should be org

  • fwsonnek

    In summary, affairs of the church should be organized always so that the work of the pastor is clearly at the center of the concentric circles of third article at the center, proclaiming the second article, which moves christians to be in the world bearing first article gifts.

    This is not an either or choice, it is both/and. and it is not so much

  • fwsonnek

    and it is not about legalism (can we do this? what are the proper rules and definitions…or church polity)

    This is ALL about Jesus and the holy Gospel. It is not even about priorities (although to a busy pastor and congretation it might LOOK like that.) It is about always making the church about the proclamation of the death of our Lord until His return.

    sorry for the multiple posts. My internet connection at this coffee house is acting up.

    I hope this helps.

  • fwsonnek

    Pastors can do other things as fellow christians. they can be church trash collectors, school principals, janitors, and they often are all these things and more. It’s all good.

    But as set-apart pastors. called and ordained. they are acting outside of their office by doing these very holy things. they ARE doing holy orders by doing the trash collection or as principals.

    but like a federal judge taking out the trash as part of one of his vocations for his family at home, he is not acting officially in his office in so doing. His charter, as pastor, is not there. Just as when a pastor utters advice , Joel osteen style, on family relationships or psychology, he is doing a holy work and may be filling a vocational need to do so, but he is acting UTTERLY outside of his charter as a pastor.

    The only problem with this is that his office is unique to the world offering that one thing needful that NOONE else is set apart and called to offer. It is a shame to distract and dilute that mission when there is any other way to do things.

    Let Christ increase I say, and let us decrease. God WILL find a way to take care of first article needs without pastors leading the charge to do that.

  • fwsonnek

    Note that this is not even about resume or qualifications or skill (cf Moses, aaron, and the apostles,and OT prophets, who were utterly UNqualified and yet called publicly and sent by our Lord) , even though those have their place in a call. THIS is about Christ, and being publicly set apart to bear the good news about Him. this is about charter and being given to do something that no one else in no other public office is given to do.

  • fwsonnek

    We must resist, at all costs, the “professionalization” of pastors.

  • fwsonnek

    Laymen are well advised to be vocal about telling pastors and church officials to “mind their own business” which should and must be about word and sacrament, and then joyfully step forward to do those administrative things and other things to free their pastors from metaphorically and really waiting on tables.

  • fwsonnek

    Yes, you heard that right. the christian school is not a missionary arm of the church.

    It is first article. not second or third article. (for those Non-lutherans here we are talking about the 3 sections or articles of the apostles creed, father, son and holy spirit, as explained in Dr Martin Luther’s small catechism. google it!)

    I am an accountant, IT professional, and now real estate and law school student. As a christian, these vocations now are “missionary efforts.” sure. but not strictly or properly speaking. I bring sweet Jesus into my vocations, and from there I bring others to my pastor and so bring them to Jesus. THERE is where the real missionary work gets done. I am, or rather that thing called the Holy Spirit in me, the leaven in the dough. That thing that puts Christ into the world. But what i do is STILL FIRST article gift to the world.

  • fwsonnek

    Edward Bryant! Are you THE Edward Bryant who worked with pastor Bill McMurdie in Lakewood, Washington? I would please like to be in contact with you.

  • fwsonnek

    The problem here is that Lutherans tend to systematize and categorize and classify things like good Joimans are wont to do. And then get all confused when there is interplay and bleeding of function between the arbitrary classifications they set up. “Can pastors be teachers too? hmmm part of pastoring involves teaching… so…..”

    black cannot be white and grey does not exist.

    This condition exists until you put Christ at the very center and make Him all in all, and then everything becomes “ordered” as it should be and all things become truly free and start to look like Gospel and not law.

    This confuses our old adam , who wants pharisaic rules and not true morality, and brings holy pleasure and certainty in seeming chaos to our new adam.

    We can then relax and allow diversity of expression while being sure and certain what the order needs to look like and striving towards that orientation as human compasses that point and give comfort of direction and orientation but force no one to go where we point.

    Pastors can pick up the trash, and saints can sin, and the LC-MS can burn money by setting it ABLAZE ™ and we can relax in the comfort of knowing that this is only a temporary situation. Jesus will resolve all things sweetly and by grace.

    And maybe some of the chaos will, if it be His will, be resolved here and now, but all will be subsumed to His holy will. That will was to , for us men and for our salvation, come down from heaven, and save us.

    This remains the complete expression of His will towards sinful mankind.

    Meanwhile we get to be passive martyrs (holy witnesses), The true mirror image of jihadists. Ever pointing to the Life of the World. The Light the Darkness could not overcome.

    May Holy Ordination always be 200 proof and not koolaid or a drink with an umbrella in it pleasing to men and what we think will work or what is right. Amen.

    Put Jesus at the heart and center and all becomes clear even and especially when our man made cuisinart theology of slicing and dicing becomes a confused salad.

  • Pastor Doug Wilson seems to have done a decent job shepherding the schools affiliated with his church, no?

    I have some trouble trying to suggest that the vocation of school principal from that of the elder/pastor/bishop. “Episcopos,” after all, means “overseer,” and the major thing that distinguishes an elder/overseer/bishop from a servant/deacon is the ability to teach. It would seem that a person gifted to be a pastor would simultaneously be gifted to be a school teacher or principal.

  • fwsonnek

    It grieves me that LC-MS men sometimes refer to the WELS position as the “functional view of the ministry”. This frames the issue wrongly, and so demarcates the area of disagreement wrongly.

    The issue IS as to what is the proper “function” of the holy ministry. Function is probably not a good word though because it conjure up issues of form and not just function in our culture.

    The better words in english would be office, or commission, or order, or charge.

    The concept of “office” seems to be lost to us in the church now though, even though it is clear as to the “office” of judge or president or governor under a constitutional law (I know some would argue even that, but I think the illustration is still clear.)

    Sorry for the long windedness and multiple postings, but I was raised in the WELS and was always confused reading missouri and wisconsin bounce back and forth on this. Both sides could and did lapse into legalisms. I hope that a pastor out there will put this all down, but so far I have not seen things presented this way except by my former pastor of 15 years who is LC-MS. and he has not published anything on this yet.

  • Doug Wilson is not the principal, though. Tom Garfield is the principal of the Secondary school and Matt Whitling is the Elementary school principal.

  • fwsonnek

    missouri tries to preserve the doctrine of the public ministry by overstatement and making it “special” where it is not. (just like some pastors, to make private confession compelling and special assert that the forgiveness offered there is different than one offered in other forms.)

    Wisconsin correctly objects to this, but then bases their teaching on everthing that happens in an organization of believers. “believers are church.” sums their doctrine. They atomize and so can only then have order through organizational imperatives and legalisms.

    True Missouri doctrine starts with Christ, by means of the word and sacraments and believers ORDERED around that.

    No legalisms necessary to produce order. and the flexibility wisconsin aims for in ministry is granted in a gospel way. Can a pastor be a teacher or a janitor as well. yes! Should he be? depends. Ideally no, but we have grace to deal grace in the non-ideal.

    The expression of ministry can be manifested in great diversity with no contention for who has authority to do what.

    The “to do ” part is clear. The lines and delimits of authority are clear in the office.”

  • fwsonnek

    i missed the original question.

    you call a pastor to be a pastor and a teacher to be a teacher.

    you could call a pastor to be a teacher, but then you are calling him AS a teacher, which seems strange and a waste in that he was ordained and publicly set apart to be a pastor.

    some might say you could call him as a pastor and list that his duties as pastor included being a principal or teacher in the school. I think that would be wrong. it just doesnt work like that. God is the one who calls, and who sends. and we dont get to define what he does as if we were hireing the man. the pastor has his marching orders quite apart from what the congregation wants. A pastor is set apart publicly to administer the sacraments and proclaim christ crucified. teachers can be hired. teachers can be fired. or called…. with teachers it is JUST like those called and appointed to wait tables so the apostles would not need to do that.

  • A principal is called to be the teachers’ teacher and the leader of the entire school.

    A teacher is trained and called to teach, not necessarily lead (except the classroom he/she is in front of).

    Perhaps I’d call a teacher who has gone on to earn a degree in school administration, but not just a teacher. I say this not just as a matter of fact, but from experience. As the founder and president of a charter school in Michigan who has made the mistake twice of assuming a teacher can naturally walk into the job of administrator. It never worked out.

    A pastor, on the other hand, is called both to lead and teach, and can do both well. He knows how to lead (shepherd), and with a right application of law and gospel. But if a pastor is not also a good teacher, he should never have been ordained.

    2 Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach,…

    Since this is a parochial school, I think it’s a no-brainer to hire a pastor as the principal if at all possible.

  • Frank,

    You need a blog. Seriously. You have so much to say and a blog will help you with that. Blog post comments, on the other hand, are for dialogues and not diatribes. Try it! You’d have lots of visitors!

    To all,

    This matter was hotly discussed at our church several years ago. We ended up calling a principal. I say let the pastor be the pastor and vice versa. Of course, as a large church and large school, we have the luxury of having 2-3 pastors plus a principal. I am on the school board and I think things work very well. The principal and pastor keep their appropriate, God-ordained duties and the school is well-served.

    Ed Bryant,

    Glad to read your comments! I met you at the Confessional Worldview Seminar at my church, King of Grace, just last fall. Hope you become a frequent commenter!

  • Teresa,

    The question in Dr. Veith’s original post is NOT whether to have a principal or a pastor. The congregation already has a pastor and wants to hire a principal for their school. The question is: based upon the doctrine of vocation, who would make a better principal for a parochial school, a pastor or a classroom teacher?

    Your answer addresses an important follow-up question not yet stated. That is, if the principal is also an ordained pastor, to what degree, if any, should he share in the pastoral duties of the congregation? That would be a matter to address in the call document.

  • Edward Bryant

    Erich, I think you are very much to the point when you are asking (essentially) where in the world will we find people prepared to be the principal of a school? Personnel are the greatest challenge in establishing and maintaining schools of the church. Shall we look…

    – Among the faculty? (Teachers are not necessarily administrators, as you say, but one might demonstrate administrative ability.)
    – Among the faculty or graduates of teacher colleges? (Administrative ability aside, most faculty are prepared according to the progressive model, and must transcend that training and adopt a Christian philosophy of education if they are to be candidates.)
    – Among seminary graduates? (These are not pastors, by the way, for they have not yet been called to the office. While we would not expect them to graduate without aptitude for theology, teaching, and leadership, they are often still unproven.)
    – Among serving pastors? (Often a particular aptitude is shown that would make them good headmasters or principals, and in considering the call they would of course recognize that much of their pastoral work would be in theological ovesight of the faculty and in working with families (seelsorge) and evangelism.)

    I do not know of a program that produces graduates who are 1) Theologically well grounded, 2) Philosophically astute, 3) good teachers, and well versed in educational practices, 4) liberally educated, 5) trained administrators.
    We will have to get them somewhere, and training for the ministry covers at least some of the bases.

  • Edward Bryant

    I couldn’t begin to answer your every point, so let me just observe that your dependance upon categories seems to amount to compartmentalization. We all have several, even many, vocations; we do not inhabit boxes. Though it surely needs emphasis in our day, the idea that a pastor is only to preside at the Divine Service is foreign to the Scriptures.

    Schools not for outreach?! Schools only “first article”?! Balderdash!

    Schools are the field of battle!
    The enemy brings believing children into his schools to subvert their faith. His servants even have “integrated math” to indoctrinate the children in a damnable philosophy. Why exactly shall we abandon the educational field to him, and not speak to the lost also in our schools?

    BTW Frank, yes I am THE Ed Bryant, FWIW.

  • Edward Bryant

    Good point about congregations trying for a 2for1. Sadly that often happens and those considering a call have to ask those two questions. Genuine? Legitimate? as wel as all the other things to be considered.

    Regarding the dividing of law and gospel in the Christian classroom. I have written on that subject and although it is published, I don’t think it is on the web. If I find a link, I will post it.

    I don’t believe there is enough attention to the dividing of law and gospel in a classroom, but I disagree that the law must predominated. Does the law predominate in a Christian home? The danger in both is that it will, because parents and teachers must guide the lives of their charges. Remember, though, law and gospel do not predominate because of the number of “law-words” or “gospel-words” used. The best way to view predominance is to ask whether at the end of the day, or the end of a discipline session, the student knows that he stands forgiven before God, his parents, and his teacher. Such understanding is not incompatible with discipline any more than we who are chastened by our loving Father mus therefore doubt His grace.

    The principal is in many states an agent of the state and of law. In cases of mandatory reporting, for example, it is important that the differing vocations of principal be recognized. In such a situation it would be unfortunate, to say the least, if the principal were the pastor. Nevertheless, even when separate, and even when the principal turns in the malefactor, that cannot be permitted to obscure the grace of God.

  • Dr. Veith; true that there are principals, but are they not supervised by Wilson?

    That said, the historic roots of the “principal” is that of the “principal teacher.” More or less, they led by example more than by fiat–and again, they’ve got (or should have) the teaching skills also required for the pastorate. Also, in a Christian school, I’d suggest they also ought to have a lot of the character traits required for being a deacon or elder, though in schools I’d make an exception on the “male only” rule.

    So where they differ, IMO, is in whether they feel called to preach the Gospel, or to teach academic subjects, not in basic aptitudes.

  • Edward,

    The ideal you describe in what might produce the best Lutheran school principal does not exist. Pastors, on the other hand, do exist. I agree that one would not have to be ordained to be a principal, but it certainly would add to his versatility in serving the congregation to which he is called. Pastors have the best aptitude for being the administrators of what a Lutheran school’s purpose should be. Perhaps one should first ask what that purpose is, but that was not the question either.

    The question here, after all, was not “how COULD we produce the finest Lutheran school principals?”, but rather “which would be better if given the choice of a pastor or a teacher?”

  • Bror Erickson

    “Pastors have the best aptitude for being the administrators of what a Lutheran school’s purpose should be. Perhaps one should first ask what that purpose is, but that was not the question either.”
    I’m a pastor and I hate administration, and don’t feel overly qualified for it. Oversight maybe. But I think this is the whole reason behind the apostles electing deacons to wait tables. Pastors will need to know what is going on in a school. Pastors will even have to be leaders and visionaries for the school. But the day to day administration, maybe that ought be left to someone who isn’t supposed to devote his time to prayer and the word.

  • Pastor Erickson,

    I should have written “better” aptitude. …better than teachers who have no administrative training is what I meant. I also qualified my statement with “of what a Lutheran school’s purpose should be.”

    Perhaps you also are thinking of administration differently than I am. I mean it more in terms of oversight and leadership. If school administration isn’t a particular pastor’s cup of tea, then I’d assume he wouldn’t apply for this job. I am also assuming that this person would only be responsible for the administration of the school, since the parish in question apparently already has a pastor.

    I have to agree with you and Teresa. It is better for the pastor of the congregation to devote his time to his normal pastoral duties. It depends on how large the congregation is as well as how large the school is.

    I still maintain, however, that pastors will typically make better principals than teachers because a pastor’s training and experience is typically as broad as that of a principal’s, whereas a teacher’s training and experience is typically limited to how to lead a classroom and teach young students.

    Whether a pastor or teacher is chosen, the qualities of the individual must still be considered foremost. There are pastors who would make bad school administrators, and there are teachers who would make good ones.

  • Right, Robert, I’m sure Doug Wilson has oversight, and certainly the pastor of the parish should have oversight over the school, especially in its theological teachings. But Doug leaves the complicated day-to-day administration of the institution to others, leaving him time for his ministerial duties. That strikes me as a good idea.

  • fwsonnek

    Dear Theresa: Bless you. yes i was overly windy. Hope to do better. keep those very politely delivered critical comments comin in. yes I have alot to say but not alot worthwhile to say. a blog by YOU would be far more interesting I think.. 😉

    Dear Pastor Ed Bryant! blast from the past. I would LOVE to catch up with you offline! The Lord’s Peace be with you and your family!

    I believe what we have here is a failure to communicate. I think we probably disagree actually.

    You say: “We all have several, even many, vocations; we do not inhabit boxes. ” Didn’t I say exactly that in my post?

    You say: “Though it surely needs emphasis in our day, the idea that a pastor is only to preside at the Divine Service is foreign to the Scriptures.”

    Where did I say THIS? Interesting to me that when I say that WITHIN a pastors ordination he is only chartered narrowly and exclusively to proclaim christ’s death, the Holy Gospel and all its articles (augustana) , that this would lock the pastor in the chancel. I am interested that you would take it there from what I said. Nothing could be further from what I said.

    Schools not for outreach?! Schools only “first article”?!

    Interesting that when I say schools are a first article gift . period. that you feel I am saying that there is then no second and 3rd article stuff going on or the possibility of that if my statement holds true.

    If this is true, then no secular 1st article vocations should be held by christians, because christians should do nothing where they cannot bring Jesus along for the ride.

    If your school is a missionary arm of your church, you should offer free tuition to non members (since when is missionary work presented with a fee to its targets?) and tuition for members only, OR you should be honest and tell the pagan parents that “our mission is to convert your little pagans to our faith and take your mastercard or visa to do so.” discounted tuition for members as a carrot to get new members is not wise or mission minded in the good sense.

    no it is a first article offering to the community. period. Yes 2nd and 3rd article gifts are present in all we do. I distinguish and do not separate. You read me to separate and not distinguish properly.

    do we still disagree?

  • fwsonnek

    Ed Bryant: I MEANT to say that ” I think that we probably agree actually” and no that was not a freudian slip. hehehehehe.

  • Jim

    First time here. Don’t comment much anywhere.

    Where in the Bible does God give jurisdiction to the church or the state over children’s upbringing/education? Everywhere I read in Holy Scripture with regard to the nurture and admonition of children is a charge to the father, who also has an help “meet” for him.

  • Bror Erickson

    I’m not sure that you question quite fits here. As we are only talking about who would best be suited as principal of a School.
    However you are right that the parents are given the responsibility for the raising and educating of children. That said it is nowhere forbidden for parents to hire others to help with these tasks. That is where schools (public or private) come in. This in no way however relieves the parents of their responsibilities, just helps them do a better job of it.

  • Jim


    Thank you for your response. I do not want to presume to insert myself into the conversation abruptly. Please indulge me for a moment to explain why I think this question does fit here.

    The question posed by Mr. Veith presumes there should be a school run by the church. It is a significant presupposition of the discussion. Would you agree that questioning a presupposition helps us to better defend our reasoning, or change it if it is flawed?

    When you say, “it is nowhere forbidden for parents to hire others to help with these tasks,” do you have biblical evidence to approvingly support this practice?

    Are there other (similar) charges we are given by which God allows us to hire others to fulfill them?

  • Bror Erickson

    I don’t see where Veith presumes the church “should” run a school. only that the Church is running a school, something that is in there freedom to do.
    We Lutherans believe that if the Bible is silent on a subject, we are free to do or not to do, as we see fit.
    Nowehre do we see Churches commanded to run schools, yet no where do we see churches forbidden to run schools. Therefore we think it is a good a beneficial thing for a Church to do this if they can, but don’t have to feel guilty about not doing it.
    However, teahcers are menitoned often in the New Testament. For instance, 1Cor 12:28,29, Eph. 4:11. It maybe up for debate who they are teaching, and what they teach, but can you rule out that they are teaching children?
    Priests in the Old Testament also are commanded to teach, Lev. 10:11.

  • Bror Erickson

    Wow! I really need to go through and spell check next time.

  • “This in no way however relieves the parents of their responsibilities, just helps them do a better job of it.”

    …or a WORSE job of it, depending upon the parents and depending upon the school.

    I think Jim has presented a good question worthy of our attention, especially those who delegate their parental responsibilities automatically and without adequate cause.

    We live in a sinful world, and so institutions are sometimes helpful in filling in the gaps of what we sinners fail to do and achieve. However, I would recommend that we all challenge our presumptions on the purpose of education, especially public education. For this reason, I praise Jim’s questions here.

    Consider this quote from a new book published by CPH this year:

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his Letters and Papers from Prison, observed that “man had come of age” in which the “religious hypothesis” is no longer needed by man since he can get along very well without it. Bonhoeffer observed that, “as people have to use ‘god’ as an explanation less and less and have to call on ‘god’ for help less and less, this ‘god’ is being edged out of the world, to the periphery of people’s conscious world.”

    This displacement of the “religious hypothesis” is promoted through what Leslie Newbigin calls the bilingual nature of education. For most of our early lives, through the accepted systems of public education, we have been trained to use a language that claims to make sense of the world without the hypothesis of God. For an hour or two on Sunday mornings, we use the other language, the language of the Bible, but for the rest of the week we use the language imposed by the occupying power.

    Worldviews: A Christian Response to Religious Pluralism
    by Dr. Anthony J. Steinbronn
    CPH 2007

  • FW,

    No, you definitely qualify to have a blog! It’s not that hard and you have more to say than some people who keep blogs.

    Actually….I have two blogs and have kept them running, more or less, for 3 1/2 years.

    Be Strong in the Grace and Katie’s Beer

    Regarding the role of church and school, it’s not surprising that Lutherans are keenly interested and actively involved in the education of their youth. Martin Luther himself set that in motion and wrote extensively on our scriptural duty to educate our children.

    …It is sometimes forgotten that the Reformation was as much concerned with school as it was with church and home. Appreciating the role of education in directing church and society back to the source of the Christian faith, the reformers were committed to the schooling of the young. One of Martin Luther’s first acts as a reformer was to propose that monasteries be turned into schools, while one of his last was to establish a school in Eisleben, where he died in 1546…


    Another good resource: Lutheran School of America

  • Bror Erickson

    Though I agree this is a topic worthy of discussion. I would like to point out that the topic started out as to who should be called to be a principal of a Lutheran, and therefore Christian, School.
    I would also like to ask is it sinful to send your kids to school even public school? It is afterall the law these days. Yes, you can homeschool, but that has its pros and cons. Soem parents do really well at it, where others would be better off sending their kids to public schools.

  • FW said: If your school is a missionary arm of your church, you should offer free tuition to non members (since when is missionary work presented with a fee to its targets?) and tuition for members only, …

    What an interesting point! I’m on the school board of our church’s school and you really hit home with that comment. I think we use the term “outreach” with more ease. Fact is, though, a school takes money to run and all must pay.

  • Edward Bryant

    Theresa K. and Frank,
    For many years now I have recommended that ALL students pay full cost-of-instruction tuition. Discounts can then be specifically applied from funds available. It has to do with maintaining sustainable schools with a strong business plan (no, that doesn’t mean the church is a business.)

    I have never had a problem telling parents that we are intent upon converting the little pagans they send to us and on top of that requiring the parents to attend classes on what we believe and teach. I might say it a bit more tactfully, but if they are not believers, the parents cannot fathom that the most important thing about the schoole is The Faith rather than the strictly educational enterprise. They therefore sign up confident that they are immune from anything we might say. Then the Holy Spirit works through the word…

    It is a whole other topic, but let me say that generally Lutherans to a pretty poor job of actually talking to “others.” The school is one venue in which it can be done, but there must also be others.

    Frank, I don’t know how to contact you on line. If I put up an email some ‘bot would suck it up and I would be buried in spam. Perhaps you can leave a message at and I can get back to you.

  • “…is it sinful to send your kids to school even public school?”

    That depends on who is asking and the reason he’s asking. It also depends upon the nature of the public school in question and the nature of the children one would be handing over.

    Homeschooling may have its pros and cons, but at least the responsibility for the education remains squarely with those to whom it was given by God. Delegation is not sinful, per se, but delegation in education usually begins in our postmodern culture as complete abdication of responsibility rather than a true delegation of duties.

    I am the founder and president of a Michigan Public School Academy. But I’m also a homeschool father of six children (now expecting our seventh).

  • Edward Bryant

    Jim (and Bror) and Erich,

    I agree that the church school is something done in Christian liberty. The existence of the synagogue schools dating before the time of Christ shows that beleivers in every age have seen the church working to assist parents in carrying out Deut. 6:4

    Jim, you make an important point in emphasizing parental responsibility. In parochial schools we are obliged to clearly communicate to parents what we do so that they can determine if we really are assisting them as they want us to. Also in parochial schools we must constantly remind one another that we serve the parents. If we don’t we are complicit in undermining the God-given responsibilities of parents. I think that such responsibilities are among the “unalienables” mentioned in the founding documents, though it would be hard to get that idea into a court any more.

    Ponder the significance of the change in laws from, “Parents must see that their children are educated” to “Parents must put their children in school.” That shift occurred in the latter half of the 19th Century and was catastrophic.