Growing Deep Devotion #8
2.4 Networking and Strategic Relationships
The fourth descriptor for engaging the community is networking and strategic relationships. This descriptor involves identifying, building and nurturing mutually beneﬁcial relationships with key individuals or groups within, across and beyond the education sector. It also includes relationships where service to others is the focus. It includes developing and honouring relationships and networks that are of tactical and strategic importance in the development and growth of Lutheran education.
Some people love networking and doing the conference small talk. Others would prefer to stay curled up at home with a good book by themselves. When we ponder this descriptor of networking and strategic relationships we may well think of the networking and relationship building that occurs at conferences and times of professional development. These times and connections are important for our personal growth as educators and for the corporate growth of the Lutheran schools we serve. But significant to our Lutheran culture is that we also build genuine trusted relationships with others not only to grow professionally but also because of the partnership we have in the gospel. The apostle and missionary Paul wrote at the beginning of his letter to the Christian community at Philippi in northern Greece; Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Philippians 1:2-5
The sort of relationship we wish to build with people, organizations and professionals, inside and outside of our school walls is described here as a partnership. Paul uses the Greek word; koinonia which means fellowship, communion, joining together, as well as mutually dependent partnership. The sense is always of a shared relationship, a two-sided relationship. Paul also begins his letter thanking God for the early Christian community in Philippi, assuring them of his prayers for them and the joy he receives from the spiritual bond he has with them because of the gospel of Jesus. There is a spiritual bond we have with other Lutheran Schools and with other Christian schools and Christians because we have something in common, the gospel of Jesus Christ. This partnership in the gospel means we build relationships where the focus is not just on what we can get but also on service to others. We often learn best when we work together with others and from others. The Philippians meant so much to Paul because they had been partners with him in the work of God.
In our school contexts we have several crucial partnerships. We have a partnership with students and their families as learners. We have a partnership with each other as colleagues and educators. We have a partnership with God in continuing to care for his creation the environment. And we have a partnership with Christ in the gospel through the agency of the church.
As well as all the educational partners we have to improve student learning we also benefit from the partnerships we have within the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). Two agencies of the LCA who in particular use this biblical language of partnership are Mission International and Australian Lutheran World Service. Mission International focus on the overseas mission of the LCA to particularly partner churches in South East Asia. While Australian Lutheran World Service is the overseas aid and development organization of the LCA. Both of these agencies of the Lutheran Church provide numerous opportunities for schools and colleges to develop their own partnerships with people, communities and churches overseas. As Christians who are concerned with the gospel and the needs of others, we are engaged in promoting and sustaining partnerships on the local, national and global level. As partners of the gospel we have a common task to educate students entrusted to us so that they also learn of their role and participate in the mission of God in the church and in the world.
Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Carmelite mystic and reformer, wrote the following prayer, concerning the partnership we have with Christ in the world. Let’s pray:
Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Amen.
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"Meditations & Musings" is my humble attempt to share what I have found useful in ministry in an Australian Lutheran School setting. It contains chapels, devotions and other resources I have written, used and adapted in my K-12 school context. If you would like to also share your ideas, resources or start a conversation about mission and ministry in your church- school location, feel free to contact me.
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