The measure of success most touted by colleges and universities is a rise in student enrollment. The bigger, the better. The more students brought in, the more obvious the success. This isn’t necessarily the case even on a financial level, as the LCMS saw recently with Concordia Bronxville, which announced record enrollment just before shutting down.1 But a rise in student enrollment can also coincide with a lowering of academic standards (a “let anybody in” mentality) and, more importantly, a shift from the mission of the institution to a “seeker-friendly” model, a “give them what they want” instead of a “give them what they need.”
Then there is the measure of success found in test scores. How smart are the students? How did they do on the ACT or the SAT or (if you want a non-woke option) the CLT (Classical Learning Test)? But here again, the intellectual smarts of the students does not necessarily drive the success of a college. The smartest students with the highest test scores learning radical feminist gender theory or anti-Christian propaganda at a Columbia or a Harvard does not make for a successful college.
What about job placement, another metric constantly publicized by colleges, that such and such percent of graduates get a job after graduation? Or donations, that the college has raked in millions of dollars and met its financial goals? Or extra curriculars, that the college offers so many opportunities for students to interact with one another? The list goes on.
While Luther Classical College scores well on any of these metrics, none is the metric that really matters. Yes, LCC is seeing more students fill out pre-admission forms than we can take in. That’s success. We don’t have to worry about not having enough students. And yes, LCC is seeing prospective students submitting very high test scores, averaging the same as high- profile colleges such as Hillsdale or Patrick Henry. That’s success. Our future students are smart. As to job placement, the record of classical colleges far outshines that of the typical religious or private college, to say nothing of state schools. There we will see success also. And the fundraising for LCC is unprecedented: a college that has not yet opened its doors has over 160 congregations supporting, 1000 individuals, including over 250 regular monthly givers, with millions of dollars raised, without a single professor announced or student accepted. That’s success. The list goes on.
But again, these are not the metrics that matter most. They won’t matter at all without the metric that we at LCC actually care about more than anything. And that is faithfulness to Christ, His Word, and our Lutheran confession. This is the metric by which we wish to be judged and defined and which will drive and inform every other success at LCC. Every other success this last year, and the even greater successes we anticipate next year, stand or fall on this one point.
So it is not simply that we will make our goal of students enrolled, but that we will enroll faithful students who want to attend LCC precisely because we are faithful to the Bible and proudly stand on Lutheran doctrine and practice. And it is not simply that we have high test scores coming in, it is that these students want to use their smarts to the glory of God and the furtherance of Christ’s Kingdom and not for earthly gain. And while we look forward to our students moving on to long and even lucrative careers, we look forward with far greater excitement to them staying in the Lutheran Church, attending a faithful Lutheran congregation, raising families within the faith, and leading truly happy and godly lives under God’s grace.
And because the measure of our success is faithfulness to God’s Word, we receive donations from faithful Lutheran individuals and congregations. Here are the people we want influencing us, supporting us, encouraging us. Not special interest groups or a hostile government, but faithful Lutherans who love their Lord and, whether rich or poor, give of their mammon to “friends who will invite them into the eternal homes,” to Christians with whom they will share in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Nor could any extracurricular, or any college sport’s team for that matter, compete with the fellowship and camaraderie of the saints who gather daily for chapel and kneel at the same rail and sing the same Hosannas to the same Savior in the Divine Service. This is the success that counts.
God has blessed us with success this year, with faithfulness to Christ and so with every other metric that matters. And so we ask Him for more. “Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
The next year will see momentous advancements at LCC. Any onlooker will see success, no matter the metric he uses. We’ll be announcing our first president, releasing designs for our campus, announcing endowments, publishing our academic catalog, admitting our first students, calling our first faculty, meeting our financial goals. We will look successful even to the world. But that is not the measure of success that drives us. In every single aspect of this college we seek faithfulness to Christ our Lord. We seek to hand this faithfulness down to the next generation. With every call we issue, every hire we make, every student we admit, every dollar we receive, every goal we meet, this will by God’s grace always be the measure of success of Luther Classical College.
- “Lutherans on Campus.” The Lutheran Witness, November 2018, 26. ↩︎