Lutheran Schools in the Pandemic and Beyond3 min read

Challenge, struggle, difficult, exhausting … these are some of the words we heard from educators as they moved through last school year. Opportunity, perseverance, faith, blessed … these are also words our educators shared as they recognized the way God was moving through our Lutheran schools during a year unlike any other. So as we begin a new school year, ‘what does this mean’ for our Lutheran schools? Greg Johnson, one of our Michigan District principals, begins to answer that question. He reminds us that the Good Lord uses all things (including a pandemic) for good, and this is especially true for our Lutheran schools!

–Travis Grulke

Assistant to the President, Superintendent of Schools

Michigan District, LCMS


Gold extracted from the ground is often relatively high in quality even in its natural state. However, during the refining process, application of high temperatures to that gold brings forth an even greater purity, and a coveted byproduct emerges once the heat is removed. In a similar way, this illustration can be applied to Lutheran schools during the pandemic. The challenges of the pandemic were much like the heat of a refiner’s fire that was applied to our educational ministries. This fire further refined Lutheran schools (probably in ways we do not fully understand yet) and produced an even higher quality, superior educational choice for parents and their children. In other words, the heat of the pandemic has proven to be a blessing that has further raised the quality and value of Lutheran schools. The pandemic was the catalyst of a refining process that brought positive change loaded with possibilities for future success and growth.

Lutheran schools, along with just about every institution in society, have had to meet many challenges brought about by the pandemic and have done so with a high degree of effectiveness and grace. Challenges—including lockdowns, distance learning, technology limitations, mitigation strategies, loss of quality instructional time, as well as reduced enrollment—have produced the heat that has been refining and stretching our educational ministries. Much like quality gold extracted from the ground and further refined by fire, Lutheran schools are being further refined by these challenges and, as a result, have become better at what they have always done well. Because of this and a determined willingness to meet these challenges head on, Lutheran schools now have the ability to provide a greater level of service, a higher quality of education, and better innovation and flexibility than ever before. Our schools need to continue to ride that wave of innovation and flexibility. Never have so many Lutheran schools been better positioned to move from good to great.

As we stand at the threshold of a new school year, it is important that we understand and build on the refining that has taken place with each of our individual ministries. Equipped with that understanding, Lutheran schools can begin to move forward applying the many innovations and new ways of teaching and learning that were acquired during the pandemic, as well as applying that knowledge to our marketing and promotional strategies.

While the pandemic has certainly claimed its share of victims, I do not believe Lutheran schools are counted among that group. In fact, I believe the opposite is likely true. Lutheran schools are better positioned for the future than they were before the pandemic. Families today are in desperate need of something they can have faith in, something they can count on, and a hope for their future. Lutheran schools share that message of hope in Christ with students and families each day, whether in a pandemic or not. I cannot help but be reminded of Joseph’s proclamation, in Genesis 50, that what was intended for harm, God has intended for good (paraphrased). Let us not miss this opportunity to grow and improve our Lutheran schools for future success and stability.

Photo (c) aydinmutlu/iStock

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About the Author

Gregory Johnson is the Principal at St. Michael Lutheran School in Portage, Mich.

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