In the fall of 2012 when we opened Evangel Classical School, the founding families were all friends. We’re all still friends today, in fact. We had a common aim to educate our children in the classical model, but all of the hard work and the memory-making were sweetened by love for one another. This may sound sentimental or idyllic; I assure you it is not. Those who were there for the Granite Falls drought (we had a Honey Bucket because the toilets couldn’t flush), the subsequent deluge (and accompanying flood of the basement where we met), the moments plucking gravel from bloody knees or the witnessing of the circle-of-farm-animal-life could tell you that our beginnings were uncommon, unprofessional, hard, and grace-saturated.
And thanks to the people, I would change none of it.
Memorable as they were, it was not the circumstances that made our beginnings pleasant; it was the people. And it was the grace of God that made the situation hilarious. We were not so naive as to find our beginnings ideal. We broke nearly all the rules for starting a school (I’d love to tell you about our first K-6 Science test or our discipline policy before the name-check-check system….), but convinced of the sovereign goodness of God, we laughed along the way.
As for the people element, I am better positioned now to know it for what it was. And the truly remarkable thing is that it has only gotten better. I’m not kidding. When you are around your people, 116 is better than 14. And while there is a lot to be said about this, my particular suggestion at the moment is this:
Never underestimate the fruitfulness of fellowship.
In the few years of ECS’s existence, we have not agreed on everything. We have sinned against each other (adults and students alike). We have occasionally disappointed each other and have spent time giving and receiving correction. But beneath it all has been a common love for Christ, a common Spirit indwelling us all, and the inescapable reality that the Spirit is not at odds with Himself, so Christians (in whom that Spirit dwells) ought to enjoy harmonious fellowship…even if we disagree. And preserving our fellowship is important!
The students have found security in knowing that the teachers are in fellowship. They see the teachers laughing together and loving each other and genuinely liking each other.
At some point, each of our teachers has asked for forgiveness from his students. When a student visits my office, his readmission to the fellowship of class comes after he seeks the forgiveness of those whom he has wronged. This preservation of fellowship is not only good training for life, it’s essential for our relational health now.
As a teaching staff, we pursue fellowship with each other. Whenever we can, we eat meals together. We pray for the students together. We have philosophical conversations reminding ourselves of why we are doing what we’re doing. We share successes and failures. We spar. Some even cry (usually the ladies). But this is not just a delight, it’s intentional. We cultivate this because it’s not just good for us, it’s good for our students.
This applies obviously to the relationship of parents; when Mom and Dad are okay, the world is okay. It’s really good for the kids when the parents are cultivating their own oneness.
A church staff that is godly and unified will have a people who flourish securely.
A city council that is likeminded and altruistic will bless the citizenry.
Two second grade moms in the school parking lot chatting through first period brings some administrators anxiety; it brings me encouragement.
The examples are many, but the point is simple. Fellowship is not just hard work, and it’s not just fun; it’s fruitful. It brings about good fruit in plenty of predictable and surprising ways.
I truly love and enjoy all of the people with whom I labor at ECS. I’m grateful to God for how He has blessed me with them. I’m also glad for all the families who have joined our school community.
There’s no mistaking that the people are what makes ECS special. It’s not our model of education, our facility, our snappy uniforms or impressive test scores. It’s the people. Our people are the ones who laugh when they want to cry; our people are the ones who sing loudly in the hallways; our people are the ones who stick around after school to play and chat when they’ve been here all day; our people are the ones who are glad to see each other every day. As best we can, our job is to cultivate this, but at the end of the day, it’s a grace from the Lord that we gratefully receive.
May God continue to show His favor to us in these ways, and may we strive to preserve fruitful fellowship.
Risus est bellum.