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What’s Up with LifeWise Academy?

My ambition is to share the Gospel with all I can, wherever I can, and by all means I can so that I too, like Paul, can share in its blessings.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

It has been my practice to write newsletter articles regarding Bible topics addressing life issues, but with the New Year upon us and a pressing matter just around the corner, I am taking an important detour from the practice.

For the past several weeks I have been running targeted Facebook ads throughout the Tippecanoe Valley School District, seeking to gain support and signatures for LifeWise Academy, a program that offers Bible classes during school hours, off campus, and with the permission of a parent or guardian. Gaining that support has taken some time up until this past two weeks when folks started signing the online LifeWise signature page fast and furiously.

During the week I targeted Akron and Mentone, with a ten-mile radius. I’m not certain where the bulk of all those signatures came from. I only know that there are folks in Mentone who know me and that our granddaughter, Jayden, used to attend Akron Elementary School. We were required to have at least 50 signatures before we moved on to the next step. I checked it today, and we’re up to 88. What’s exciting to know is that it is unlikely many of the folks who signed the form did so because they know me personally or felt pressured by me, but because they have a genuine interest in seeing released-time Christian education take place in their local schools.

LifeWise has a 10-step process in making the concept become a reality. I find this approach to be very helpful, as I can focus on each next step, instead of feeling overwhelmed regarding all that needs to be accomplished. Our next step is the Kickoff Meeting. Since I am the person who has rounded up the required signatures, it was only logical that I agreed to be the Kickoff Coordinator. After speaking with Karrie Stewart, their Launch Specialist, we’ve scheduled the Kickoff Meeting for Tuesday, January 9, at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

Our sanctuary has all the necessary equipment they require, and we have additional meeting rooms for the breakout sessions. The meeting will consist of a welcome and a few talking points on my part, followed by a 26-minute video, and then a Zoom meeting with a LifeWise representative. I am excited and encouraged to know that the LifeWise team is going to be on board with us right from the start. Folks will quickly learn that it’s not just me, but a highly motivated team with a successful track record behind them overseeing the process.

The next steps include raising $500 and forming a Steering Committee. I will volunteer to serve on the committee and am willing to lead it. However, if someone comes to the forefront with energy and vision, I will be happy to follow. To sign the form, learn about the Kickoff Meeting, or donate, just go to https://lifewise.org/district/1811370-IN-Kosciusko-County-Tippecanoe-Valley-School-Corp/.

With few exceptions, the church has been losing to secularism for the past several decades. A relatively recent survey indicated that professing Christians have declined by 12% in the last ten years.  The COVID shutdown resulted in another 6% decline in church attendance. We are greatly in need of a game changer, and I believe that LifeWise can be the game changer for the Tippecanoe Valley School District. It is not unusual for schools to see 60% participation in the first year, and 90% by the following year.

Burket Bible Church is conveniently located to reach out to the Burket Educational Center, the alternative school in town. Mentone Elementary is within driving distance, but the Steering Committee will be in a better position to assess the best option for each school.

People have asked when I planned to talk to the school administration. Karrie, our Launch Specialist, reminded me that we should NOT do that until later (step #6). But she also stated that their policy is to contact the school administration after we have ten signatures, which means they already made the contact back in November. Again, I’m happy to let them do the heavy lifting.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that I have secondary motives. I strongly support LifeWise, but my support for Christian schools and church youth centers remains just as strong, so I am volunteering my services, but also approach this undertaking as a student, striving to learn all I can from people who are very successful at what they do. To me, it’s a win-win situation. And I am motivated by the example of the Apostle Paul:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19,22-23).

My ambition is to share the Gospel with all I can, wherever I can, and by all means I can so that I too, like Paul, can share in its blessings.

In service to Christ,

Mark Eastway

Pastor, Burket Bible Church

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