Do you have time for fellowship and fun? What about time for professional development?
These are questions that I have asked or been asked over the 20 years I have had the privilege of attending the Lutheran Educators Conference. Instead of it being yes to just one or the other, I assert it can be an emphatic, yes, to both!
Notice that the focus of the first question is on fellowship, which is supported in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” We carpool to LEC together, stand in the long Starbucks line together, enjoy great food together, and walk through the table displays together. Let’s push repeat on the togetherness factor as we gather in worship, Bible study, prayer, and reflection with other like-minded believers. We readily focus on the last two parts of the L-E-C acronym, Educators and Conference, but we can celebrate and remember that the first word is Lutheran. We take time to fellowship with other Lutherans which points to our shared foundation, which is on grace, mercy and peace. It truly is a conference based on our beliefs and we are bolstered and encouraged when we gather together in Christian, Lutheran fellowship.
The second part of the first question has us anticipating something we often downplay, and that is … fun! Ecclesiastes 3:4 mentions, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” The span of an academic year often finds school communities moving back-and-forth between emotional extremes, especially with the day-to-day dealings of students, parents, and curriculum, but a lot of times we just get bogged down with the weeping and mourning aspects and forget there should be a time to laugh and dance, to just relax and spend time with colleagues. We are surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ, but sometimes it takes a concerted effort to find time for fun. Let’s put on our jeans, relax, and literally dance together as we thank our great God for the gift of fun.
Finally, professional development (PD) is vitally important as we grow and improve as educators and administrators. If we are not growing professionally, we are taking steps backwards, no matter how many years we have been teaching or in the ministry. As ministers of the Gospel we should be fully equipped, prepared, and ready, not only to teach about sentence structure, but to share Jesus with students and families. Our culture is ever-changing and our students and families are being bombarded by a worldview focused on worldly versions of the truth, not Biblical Truth. We need to stand united and discuss ways we, as Lutheran professionals, teach about God as the Creator of the universe, integrate faith into our math lessons, model forgiveness in our classrooms, hold our students accountable, and always speak the truth so that they trust us when we tell them about Jesus, their personal Savior. All of this takes work, and LEC provides opportunities to learn from one another and take the best of all that is happening in our Lutheran Schools and spread the greatness around. Our Lutheran Schools can and should be known as places where ministry AND education come together as a packaged deal. Professional development, for Lutheran educators, represents an opportunity for the kind of work that points to our great God. 1 Corinthians 12:6 reminds us that “There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” We might each have different things to share regarding what is working with our curriculum, our chapels, or our parent nights, but what is always the same is the fact that our great God is at work in our schools!
The invitation to LEC is one that includes benefits for individuals and communities and points to our need for fellowship, fun, and professional development. Come and add greatness to LEC 2018 and join hands together in praise to our great God who is and will continue to be at work in our schools. LEC is great because of our Great God working through a group of very hard-working, GREAT people who prayerfully plan each conference every year!