This is our final week in our series: Educating in the midst of a pandemic. Schools have been challenged in being able to deliver education safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. At New Life Academy, our small school community allowed us to prioritize in-person learning. We were committed to this based on our goal of educating the whole child. For the past 2 weeks, we discussed the academic gap and the social emotional needs of students. In our final week, we are talking about the faith foundation and how we draw on that in times like this. Listen to the video interview (or read the transcript below to see why we are prioritizing education even in the midst of a pandemic.
Bruce: this week, we’re very happy to welcome Pastor Brett Lilly, the senior pastor of New Life Church, to be a part of a great conversation today around faith and how that connects to and applies to life at New Life Academy. As you know, education has never been more important than in the church today. There’s a strong and aggressive current in society’s culture that is anti-Christian. Pastor Brett, can you talk some about the importance that you see from a church and school perspective around getting a message of hope out and helping our students be a part of that daily Christian message?
Brett: I think what you said is exactly right. A Christian education is extremely important in our world today with all of the things that are going on. Making sure that we’re being intentional with how we educate our kids is something that as parents we’ve always had the responsibility for. I think it’s been easy at times to just kind of leave that up to others and say, oh, yeah, because I live in a great school district or we live in the United States or whatever it may be that I’ve given the responsibility of the education of my kids to somebody else.
Well, we’re looking at society’s culture right now asking the question, who’s responsible for education? And the answer very clearly in a world of hybrid models and new homeschooling and these other things, that the responsibility truly falls on me as the parent.
And what’s great is the opportunity we have at the academy is we can intentionally, as parents, take that education and say, I’m going to use this opportunity purposefully to get them the foundation that they need. And that’s hugely important today with all of the cultural issues that are going on. How do we make sure that our kids get the foundation that they need? New Life Academy provides a fantastic opportunity for that. I have three kids. All three of them are part of the academy. Eighth grade, sixth grade and third grade this year. And I as a parent and super grateful for the opportunity for them to be here so they can get what it is that they need. And I can intentionally, as a parent, make sure that they’re set up for success in a world that is in flux, so to speak.
Bruce: Can you talk about the importance of that partnership between parent and school and church in continuing that education?
Brett: Yes. One of the beautiful things I think about this environment here at New Life is that it’s not just focused on the education of the kids, but it’s focused on the education and coming around the whole family. That’s one of things that we’ve loved as we’ve experienced this environment, is that it’s so much more than just what my kids learn every day. It’s about the activities they’re involved in, the people that they get to hang out with and the mentorship that they experience within this environment. It’s an environment that cares for people in a way that I personally have never experienced.
And so when we talk about educating your greatest gift, the hope is then that we can come alongside you as a parent as well and give you other resource. We coming alongside you spiritually. We want to come alongside you with any other issues that you may have within the home. We want to come alongside you as a community. And so in our day and age today that the schools are the center of that community along with the churches. And we can provide both of those here with this environment and give you a well-rounded experience to where we care for your kids and you as a family.
Bruce: Great points. My last question and comment will be around the the fear and the anxiety that we face during this pandemic as well a the social unrest and social division as you navigate these things in your day to day job as a pastor. What what are some things that you’re telling parents?
Brett: You know, I think it goes back to when you talk about the importance of a Christian education. You’ve got to have a solid foundation. We have to be intentional with how we’re engaging our kids specifically and in our homes and in our environment that we are building our lives on the right foundation. Jesus shared a parable of a wise builder that he built the house on the rock instead of on the sand. When the storm came and that blew the house on the rocks stood, the one on the sand was destroyed. We’re dealing with a storm in our culture today. We’re dealing with a lot of winds and a lot of rain, a lot of things that are happening. And so now, more than ever, I believe that we need to make sure that we have that solid foundation and that we’re building on the rock. And when we do that and when Jesus said in that it’s taking his words and applying them, then that gets rid a lot of that anxiety and that fear.
And we can come back to the promises that he’s given us that we can know are true. Even when the winds blow and even when it gets crazy, we come back to the promises that Jesus has given us, that he will never leave us. He will never forsake us. That he will be with us all the way to the ends of the earth, even in times like we’re experiencing right now. And so the environment that we have here at New Life is an environment to help make sure that that’s happening, that we come back to those things. And so that’s what I’m encouraging parents. Stay strong. Stay firm. Know what it is that you’re built on because this storm will pass as all storms do. It will come and go. And yet, hopefully, as we come out of it, we’ll be stronger than we were before because we’ve built our house on the right foundation.