Skip to main content

Melvin Martin Kieschnick

By Stephen Schmidt


Melvin M. Kieschnick was born in the rural home of a Lutheran parochial school principal near Walburg, Texas on December 10, 1927.

A life-long Lutheran, he was a noted spokesperson for the unique role of Christian preschools, elementary and high schools in the life of the church, the nation and the world. He was particularly vocal in the cause of Christian schools in the large cities of America and internationally. A second major theme of his career was the centrality of grace and gospel as it is lived out in the personal lives of teachers and as expressed in all the educational agencies of the church. Thirdly, he consistently advocated for and provided training in team ministry, stressing the fact that effective ministry usually involves many different players with the professionally trained Christian educator playing a pivotal role.


Melvin M. Kieschnick was born in the home of his parents, Oscar and Lina, near Walburg in Central Texas. At his infant baptism he was given the middle name, Martin, in acknowledgment of his Martin Luther heritage. The first twelve years of his schooling were all in Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) institutions. This schooling was provided at considerable financial sacrifice by his family which had limited financial resources as his father served in a rural parish. In 1950 he graduated from Concordia University, River Forest Illinois with a B.S. in elementary education.

Upon graduation from college Kieschnick was appointed by the church to serve St. Paul Lutheran Church, Tracy, California. There he served the congregation's elementary school as teacher and principal. Other parish assignments included duties as youth minister, adult Christian education leader and trainer for the Sunday School staff. During this period he also served on his judicatory Youth Ministry Committee and area Lutheran Educators Conferences and lectured on community based learning.

In 1954 Kieschnick received his Masters of Arts degree from University of the Pacific, Stockton, California. His master's dissertation is entitled The Use of Standardized Test Results in Lutheran Schools. Additional graduate work was undertaken at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and the University of Hong Kong.

In 1954 he accepted a call to become the founding principal and teacher of Zion Lutheran School, Glendale, California. He continued service at both the congregation and judicatory level in youth ministry with an emphasis on faith development. He served part-time as a guest instructor for Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois and Concordia University at Seward, Nebraska.

In 1951 he married Lutheran educator and colleague Jane Ann Scheimann of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Their marriage was blessed with the births of five children.

A major vocational shift occurred in 1956 when Kieschnick accepted a call from the Board for World Missions of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to serve as missionary and coordinator of education for that church's mission in Hong Kong. While in Hong Kong he studied the Chinese language, becoming sufficiently fluent to lecture in Cantonese. He served as principal of Concordia Lutheran School, a kindergarten to grade 12 Chinese school of 2,300 students. He planned and directed the opening of ten more schools and basic literacy "roof-top schools". Major effort was successfully expended in founding the now world-renowned Hong Kong International School. Plans were drawn up (and implemented after Kieschnick left Hong Kong) for six additional elementary and high schools. These schools eventually enrolled in excess of 20,000 students with a staff in excess of 600. He also planned and helped open a large Lutheran school in Macau, at that time a colony of Portugal.

In addition to serving as the principal of two schools, Kieschnick organized a system-wide training effort to provide in-service instruction in Christian education philosophy and methods to hundreds of teachers. Further, he wrote a religion curriculum for the schools. Together with his wife, Jane, they produced all the materials for a two-year series of instruction for use in the Chinese Lutheran Sunday Schools of the area. In the years after the Kieschnicks left Hong Kong due to a family medical emergency, graduates of Concordia Lutheran School went on to serve as principals of the network of Lutheran schools that he helped organize. Others are serving as pastors and officials of the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod.

Kieschnick taught Christian education, psychology, and pastoral leadership at Hong Kong College, the Lutheran Bible Institute, Concordia Theological Seminary of Hong Kong and Lutheran Theological Seminary, Shatin.

While in Hong Kong Kieschnick wrote widely not only for journals in Hong Kong (where his material appeared in Chinese translation) but also in Lutheran periodicals and journals in the USA. Key concepts reflected in his lectures and writings include a consistent theme of four functions of Christian schools: superior academic training, evangelistic outreach, community service, and justice.

Kieschnick's theory and practice was greatly influenced by insights from Martin Luther, Helmut Thielicke, Leslie Newbegin and Stephen O'Neil.

At the request of his mission board Kieschnick did an extensive survey of Christian education (especially schools) opportunities in Taiwan. With great assistance from personal friends of President Chiang Kai Shek, interpreters from the United Nations, local church leaders and government education leaders, Kieschnick provided a proposal for Christian education for that country. His recommendations led to the establishment of the eminent boarding school, Concordia Middle School in Chia Yi in southern Taiwan.

While on a one-year leave in the United States from Hong Kong, Kieschnick lectured across the USA to many churches, professional conferences and colleges and universities pointing to the possibilities for Christian educational institutions and their potential for Christian ministry outside the USA. Also during this period he undertook a project to study and make recommendations regarding Lutheran schools in the USA's south, especially in relation to ministry among African-Americans and the future of Lutheran schools in the post Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. He wrote a major position paper on the role of Christian schools in settings outside the USA.

Upon his return to the States in 1965 Kieschnick assumed a role in a major church-wide fund drive to (among others) provide resources for the Lutheran church's educational institutions. This role afforded him the opportunity to observe Christian education practices at all of the LCMS colleges and universities, as well as at many other educational levels. The drive raised more than $15 million which at that time was the highest amount ever raised by a denomination-wide effort.

In 1968 Kieschnick organized and chaired the first world conference on Lutheran education. In attendance were national Lutheran school leaders from the USA, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, India, Japan, Ghana, Nigeria, Argentina, Brazil and New Guinea. At the conference the attendees adopted "A Manifesto for Christian Education". Prominent Lutheran educators who assisted in writing this document included Martin Koehneke, Martin Kretzmann, James Mayer, Walter Wangerin, Frances Schaeffer, Delbert Schultz and Bruno Rieth.

In 1968 Kieschnick became superintendent of the Lutheran schools of Michigan, a total of 118 elementary and high schools. He played a leading role of advocacy for all the non-public schools of that state and served as vice-president of the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools. He was active in the losing side of the battle of securing some state financial aid for students in non-public schools. He served on a special committee of the state senate for equity in school funding.

Ecumenical cooperation was a high priority for Kieschnick and he joined Catholic Schools, Christian Schools International and Seventh Day Adventists in promoting the cause of church-sponsored schools. He gave testimony at congressional committee level in Washington, D.C. and pleaded the cause of these schools in a special hearing at the White House. His writings appeared in Lutheran Education and in the journal of Citizens for Educational Freedom.

In the midst of the tensions following the Algiers motel incident in Detroit, the assassination of Martin Luther King and the public disturbances in Detroit, Kieschnick spent efforts on racial justice in the schools and learned much from Dr. William Griffen and Dr. Pete Pero, and worked especially with the Afro-American constituencies in Detroit, Flint and Saginaw.

Kieschnick served as chair of the conference of education executives of the LCMS and led that organization into new areas of ministry.

In 1972 Kieschnick was named executive director for parish education for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. His department was responsible for providing all denomination-approved curriculum for all the Sunday, weekday and vacation Bible schools of the church. It also provided national support for the church's more than 1000 elementary and high schools. Other responsibilities included family life ministry and resources for special education. He established an Early Childhood Education division and secured the services of Joanne Eisenberg as the first director. Kieschnick also served on the denomination's Council of Administrators.

In his capacity as chief articulator of the Synod's educational mission, Kieschnick wrote extensively in the journals of the church, including The Lutheran Witness, Advance Magazine, Interaction, as well as for Lutheran Education, the official publication of the Lutheran Education Association, published by Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois.

During his years at this office the church produced a new multi-media curriculum called Mission: Life. He also launched a major program of parent education. Utilizing major grant money, hundreds of church leaders were given intensive training in effective parenting skills. The program under the direction of Norman Yunghans was noteworthy in that it not only urged parents to be "good parents", but also provided specific day-to-day communication and problem solving skills to empower them to be the kind of parents they desired to be. In this effort the church adopted and adapted the Parent Effectiveness Training model developed by Dr. Thomas Gordon. This was an inter-Lutheran effort involving all 3 major Lutheran church bodies in existence at that time: the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America.

The years of Kieschnick's service at the Church headquarters were tumultuous times in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Major battles were fought over appropriate methods of Biblical interpretation, the role and authority of church leaders, criteria for ordained ministry, who could receive Holy Communion at Missouri Synod altars and limits on permissible prayer when not all in attendance were from the same denomination.

Kieschnick became identified with the more ecumenical voices within the church and continued to attempt to work jointly with the two other major Lutheran denominations in the USA at that time; namely the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America. Also, during that time Kieschnick was in great demand as a speaker at congregations, district conventions and educational conferences around the church.

In 1976 Kieschnick became affiliated with what is now the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He joined the staff of a private organization called Effectiveness Training. There he assisted in taking Parent Effectiveness Training to countries around the world. He worked with and in many cases did the initial training of leaders in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia, France and Pakistan. His writing focused on parent-child relationships and the skills needed for effective parenting. Together with Dr. Thomas Gordon he also created Clergy Effectiveness Training and offered this skill training to clergy of Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches as well as military chaplains. With Kiki Skagen he edited Perspectives on Effective Parenting, which was used as the text for thousands of parents who enrolled in a 13-week public television network course. He assisted and delivered a version of Teacher Effectiveness Training especially appropriate for church school teachers and did extensive training in Lutheran and United Methodist circles.

In 1984 in preparation for the establishment of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Kieschnick conducted site visits at all 12 colleges then affiliated with the American Lutheran Church. He provided recommendations regarding the role of these schools in the new ELCA. He played an important role in ensuring that schools and colleges were duly recognized in the governing constitution of the ELCA.

The Lutheran Schools Association of Metropolitan New York and the Center for Urban Education Ministry became the locus of Kieschnick's ministry in the last years prior to his retirement. Major effort was directed at the ministry of church-related schools in the city. During this period Kieschnick lectured and wrote extensively. He was a strong advocate for the rights of all students, whether enrolled in public or nonpublic schools. He was appointed to the State of New York education commissioner's Committee for Nonpublic Schools, twice serving as its chair. He twice received special recognition from the NY State Education Department for his consistent advocacy on behalf of all students in the state irrespective of whether they were in public or nonpublic schools.

In his work for the Center for Urban Education Ministries he directed projects across the country. These projects included special workshops for teachers in urban schools, national gatherings for the support of outstanding urban school principals, and fostering shared mission and ministries between congregations and schools. During these years women replaced men as principals in most urban Lutheran schools. Kieschnick assisted the principals and school boards to respond appropriately.

At this time Kieschnick also served as a special education consultant for the ELCA Division for Higher Education and Schools. He wrote resources, conducted training events and represented the church's interest in schools and preschools in the nation's capitol. He also provided on-site assistance to the Lutheran schools in the Caribbean.

Throughout his career Kieschnick was a much sought after conference presenter, workshop leader and college/university graduation speaker. He provided this service at more than 200 professional conferences around the world. He consulted not only for schools, congregations and synods, but also for several large national fraternal organizations and businesses.

Always interested in the intersection of religion and public issues, Kieschnick served on the Board of the Center for War and Peace at Wayne State University, Detroit, 1968-1972. He was a panelist on The Public Religion Project funded by the Pew Charitable Trust and directed by Dr. Martin Marty, 1997-1999.

Entering retirement in 1993 Kieschnick served as an Area Representative and then Staff Associate for Wheat Ridge Ministries, Itasca, Illinois, an organization with the mission of seeding new ministries of health and hope in the name of the healing Christ. In this role he served as an evaluator of funded projects in the USA, China and India, and assisted with the financial development of that organization.

He continued writing journal articles, especially for the publications of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association, the Lutheran Schools Association and the Center for Urban Education Ministries. Kieschnick's extensive writing of devotional materials was included in publications of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Concordia Publishing House and the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association. He is a charter member of the Lutheran Association of Christian Education and has served as a presenter on adult Christian education at their conferences.

Continuing his life-long commitment to Christian education he was an active leader in the education programs of Calvary Lutheran Church, Solana Beach, California where he spent more than 10 years teaching in the Sunday morning adult programs. Primarily using study materials he produced himself, these classes dealt with a wide variety of topics ranging from genetic testing and Christian ethics, through in-depth sessions on forgiveness to a series on "Bible Stories They Never Told Me In Sunday School." At that same congregation he served part-time on the church staff as an associate in ministry.

A primary indicator of the influence, which Kieschnick has had in Christian (especially Lutheran education) is the fact that many educators claim him as an important mentor. Donna Braband, Director of Schools for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wrote, "In my years at the ELCA I have heard so many times that Mel was my mentor. He took me to the point where I am today" (Donna Braband in a private letter to Melvin Kieschnick, January 4, 2006). As further evidence of Kieschnick's influence four of five principals of large Lutheran high schools in Hong Kong all credited him as being a dominant influence in their career choice. Current educators who claim Kieschnick as mentor include Cindy Kuck, Prof. of Education, Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois and Marlene Lund, Executive Director, Lutheran Schools Association of New York.

In the 1980's Kieschnick served as mentor to Glen Bracht, Director of Schools for the American Lutheran Church. Upon the establishment of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988, Billie Navarro, that church's first Director of Schools requested Kieschnick to play that role for her.

As of this writing (spring 2006) Kieschnick continues to write, teach and consult in the area of Christian education with an ongoing interest in the role of Christian schools at all levels, both domestically and internationally. He has also focused on total wellness of body, mind and spirit, especially as that relates to those whose calling is in the area of Christian education.

Contributions to Christian Education

In the 1960's Mel Kieschnick wrote a position paper on Christian schools in the mission of the church in areas outside North America. It was directed specifically to the Board for World Missions of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Years later, Rev. Paul Strege who had served as Area Secretary for LCMS Missions in Southeast Asia wrote: "(Kieschnick) moved a major denominational board to reverse a policy it had formally put into place, a policy which had decided Christian schools overseas should be patterned on parochial schools in the USA, providing education for children already Christian or should be 'conversion mills' to bring non-Christians into the church, preferably at the lowest cost per convert & #8230; (Kieschnick) showed that both theologically and practically Christian schools are most true to the gospel when they faithfully serve the needs and desires of the people for good education, and leave the matter of conversion and church membership to the blessings of the Holy Spirit. The board backed off its earlier position and agreed (with Kieschnick)." (Personal letter from Paul Strege to Mel and Jane Kieschnick, Oct. 1, 1992.)

In his July 22, 1966 keynote address to the national convention of the Lutheran Education Association and the National Lutheran Parent Teacher League, Kieschnick presented five challenges for Christian education in impacting the world outside of North America: (1) Continue to operate Christian preschools, elementary and high schools. (2) Intensify efforts at assisting schools opened by Christian institutions to be genuinely Christian in their philosophy, values and mission, especially also through teacher training. (3) Move into the area of vocational schools and relate work to the Christian call to vocation. (4) Move more aggressively into Christian witness in universities in non-Christian cultures. Presciently he referred in 1968 to the growing influence of the teaching of Islam in African universities. He cited specifically that "in Cairo in the 1,000 year old Al Ashar University, the greatest center of learning in the Islamic world, Muslim students are attracted from every Muslim land & #8230; and in that one school alone more than 2,000 African students are studying on a direct scholarship from President Nassar as part of his effort to spread Islam." (5) There are great opportunities for Christian education and schools internationally in the entire arena of special education, especially for persons with physical disabilities.

In recognition of his efforts, the Lutheran Education Association presented him with its premier honor, The Christus Magister Award. Included in the award presentation were the words of commendation, "Known to be a highly competent classroom teacher, a most capable and efficient educational administrator, a consecrated and tireless missionary, an active and respected promoter of Christian education, he has clearly and convincingly emerged as a leader in Christian education for our church in its overseas missions." (From Christus Magister Citation by Richard Engebrecht, Lutheran Education Association, July 23, 1966.)

During the course of his career Kieschnick had some twenty articles published in Lutheran Education (the oldest continuing published professional education journal in the USA). One of the themes of his perspectives on Christian education is reflected in We Have This Ministry (Lutheran Education, February 1970). In this article he provided five propositions to energize a cooperative, mutually respected, dynamic team ministry among the pastors of congregations and the administrators and teachers of the schools of the congregation, namely, (1) Our ministry is God-centered, "person" directed. (2) Our ministry is one. (3) Our ministry is always a team ministry. (4) Our ministry is always to one another. (5) Our ministry is united by its eschatological dimension.

Influenced heavily by Steven Schmidt's book, Powerless Pedagogues, Kieschnick claimed in an audiotape address distributed by Lutheran Education Association that from his experience growing up in the racist culture of his youth he found some similar unacceptable behaviors on the part of some who still considered "commissioned" educational ministries to be of less value than the "ordained pastors," similar to the alleged supremacy of white over black.

Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois, the publisher of the journal Lutheran Education, twice honored Kieschnick. In 1970 it awarded him its Spiritus Christi medallion for his "devotion to the cause of Christian education and personal achievements and outstanding leadership in the field." In 1973 that same institution awarded Kieschnick the Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) citing him for being "a vigorous and innovative force in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod".

In 1972 Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri awarded Kieschnick its Christus Vivit medal. The medal honors persons who have performed a singular type of service for the benefit of the Church and whose services are marked by personal consecration over many years and in times of great difficulty. When making the presentation of the medal, Dr. John Tietjen, Seminary president identified Kieschnick as "an interpreter of Christian education to church and world on two continents" and said, "his contributions to civic and national groups continues on many fronts."

In acknowledging his support for the best possible education for all the children of the state, the New York State Department of Education cited Kieschnick as "A man whose star will shine forever. His joy in learning is an inspiration to educators throughout the state."

For the last eight years of his career Kieschnick's writings focused on the challenge and opportunities of Christian education in urban settings. His monthly column in LSA News published by The Lutheran Schools Association of New York was widely read by urban educators. When these monthly articles were collected and published by Wheat Ridge Ministries, Dr. Lester Bayer, Director of The Center for Urban Education Ministries wrote, "These commentaries sometimes cause laughter, sometimes, inspiration, sometimes guilt, sometimes amusement, but they are always gospel-centered, stimulating and thought provoking". (Introduction by Les Bayer, Commentary, copyright 1992 by Melvin M. Kieschnick, Laser Lightening, Tuckahoe, NY.)

At the request of the American Lutheran Education Association (now Evangelical Lutheran Education Association) Kieschnick, in 1977, wrote The Pastor and The Lutheran School. This book encourages pastors to support the preschools and elementary schools of their parishes by serving the entire school family as shepherd, theologian, servant, leader, presence, advocate, officiant and peacemaker. Writing on seminary training to prepare future pastors to be effective participants in the schools of their parishes, Dr. Nelson Strobert, Prof. of Christian Education at Luther Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania reported that it was a requirement in his parish education course at that seminary that students read and discuss this book. (Dr. Norbert Strobert in Views and Visions, published by ELEA, 2004.)

As is expected, retirement celebrations (like eulogies) sometimes exaggerate the influence of the person whose career is being celebrated. Kieschnick's retirement celebration provided the opportunity for a wide spectrum of speakers to comment on his influence. Educators from Hong Kong spoke of how his former students became principals of Christian schools and leaders in the community. Representatives from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod recalled his emphasis on the gospel and his frequent statement that the goal of Christian education is to set people free in Jesus Christ enabling each person to more nearly become all that God intends them to be.

Liisa Tuovinen, head of the Division for Family Life of The Lutheran Church of Finland recalled Kieschnick's significant work and influence in that church and voiced her appreciation of his and his wife's fervent plea for the church to be a welcoming place for gays and lesbians.

The Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education lauded Kieschnick's strong advocacy not only for children in non-public schools, but also for all the children of the state.

School aadministrators of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association recalled Kieschnick's strong advocacy at the national level for a commitment to Lutheran schools at all levels, from preschool through college.

Urban educators recalled Kieschnick's influence in urging the church to see its educational ministries in urban areas as diverse as New York, Shanghai and Karachi, Pakistan. The two bishops who spoke recalled influence on them and their colleagues, especially as it related to the congregation as a teaching/learning environment in which many people play critical interrelated roles.

The final acknowledgement came from the Director of the Center for Urban Education Ministries who described Kieschnick as an "enricher, encourager, executive par excellence, enabler and example, a man of God who has dedicated his life to the ministry of Christian education."

Wayne Lucht, in the lead editorial of Lutheran Education, (Nov/Dec 92, p. 62) entitled "Fare You Well, Mel," listed the various positions Kieschnick had held in more than 40 years as a Christian educator. The editorial went on to write, "Yet this simple, inadequate listing of functions has been performed with such distinction, it stands as an eloquent tribute in itself. Writer, inspirational speaker, clear-sighted critic, supporter of this complex phenomenon called Lutheran education, we will not see his like soon enough."

Key Christian Education concepts articulated by Kieschnick

In a public lecture on Lutherans and Learning on November 1, 2003 sponsored by Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Illinois, Kieschnick stated as follows:

Lutherans believe deeply in the value of learning. The three cornerstones of Lutheran identity, namely scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, affirm the role of teaching and learning of God's love for humanity and human response to God's grace in Christian living. This is revealed in the inspired scriptures which record God's activity and human response, centered in Jesus Christ.

Lutherans see the handiwork of God in all creation and this is a legitimate realm for human study and learning. God calls for a continuing conversation between the Grace Lutheran congregations and Stanford Universities of the world.

God has extended to humanity the call to vocation, service and justice. The call is for the Christian to continually learn of God's plan for human behavior and to act on it.

Lutherans are not afraid of where the search for truth will lead, for God is truth and while God is a God of paradox, God is not a God of contradiction.

Lutherans believe in a well-educated clergy. While the study of scripture is important, their seminaries are more than bible colleges.

In a keynote address to the Lutheran Education Association on July 22, 1966 on the theme Feed My Lambs the following was articulated:

We leave ourselves open to the call of Christ to feed his lambs and sheep. Each of us does that right where we are: in our homes, our classrooms, our congregations, our communities, our world.

By the mysterious grace of God we live in America. From here we both export our values and ideas of Christian education and learn from Christians all over the world. Let us not export institutional foibles. Let's make sure we feed lambs and sheep with what is food indeed, namely the Word made flesh in Christ.

Let each one of us get totally caught up in the whirlpool of life today, a whirlpool of tension and strife, of problems and opportunities, a whirlpool of unrest and exhaustion, of creativity and proclamation. But we enter the whirlpool of life because we have first been caught up in a whirlpool of love & that same whirlpool in which Peter found himself & that exhilarating experience with a Shepherd Savior who asks three times, 'Lovest thou me?' As we hear that question come to each one of us, may we plead from the depths of our spirit and our innermost soul, 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you.' And then let us hear and respond to his gentle command, 'Feed my lambs, feed my sheep' and be the Christian educators we have all been called to be.

School as Church

Kieschnick often spoke and wrote on the topic "School As Church". In his earlier presentations he applied this model specifically to Lutheran preschools, elementary and high schools. In a major presentation to Christian educators of many denominations gathered for a Religious Education Training Conference in Berchtesgaden, Germany sponsored by the United States Army, Europe and Seventh Army, held April 28-29, 2989, Kieschnick applied the concept to all church schools, including the Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Weekday Classes. In his presentations Kieschnick made the following assertions:

I sometimes think we make a fundamental mistake in our assumptions regarding the role and mission of our Christian schools of whatever specific organization. We take as a model for our Christian schools, the model of the public school in the USA. While not criticizing our public schools, I propose that there is a more appropriate model for the Christian school. I propose the model of the church. I suggest that we look at New Testament images and characteristics of the church and use that as our model for our Christian schools.

In this presentation I will examine seven biblical characteristics of the church and propose that that is exactly what our Christian schools should look like.

The Christian school is church when it recognizes that the church is people, responding to the gospel. The emphasis is upon the learner, not the institution nor even the teacher, but upon each person.

The Christian school is church when its primary force is the gospel. Too often parents send their children to our Christian classes because they want us to teach their children the law (rules, regulations, morality) more effectively. I propose that we are most true to our identity when we teach the gospel most sincerely, for it is the power of God unto salvation.

The Christian school is church when it is a worshipping community, when staff, students and parents all recognize that genuine Christ-centered worship (both formal and informal) must always be a vital part of the Christian school experience.

The Christian school is church when it is a witnessing community. Again, when staff and school family are in consistent witness to the greatness of God as revealed in nature, in Jesus Christ and in the life and witness of God's people.

The Christian school is church when it lives like a fellowship of believers in Christ. Community is everything. Relationships matter. There is mutual love, affirmation, respect.

The Christian school is church when it acknowledges the public ministry in its midst. Every teacher is a minister. Every teacher grows theologically, behaves like a minister, exercises both a priestly and a prophetic ministry.

The Christian school is church when it is a total teaching/learning community, gathered around the Word exorcising evil spirits. The evil spirits include the evils spirits of racism, sexism, ageism, pride, self-righteousness. Evil spirits are exorcised, Christ reigns.

Christian Family Life

In 1996 and 1997 Kieschnick wrote a series of four articles on Christian family life issues. The titles were Ten Commandments for Fathers; Ten Commandments for Mothers; Ten Commandments for grandparents; and Ten Commandments for Children. The articles were translated into Finnish and Estonian and given wide circulation in Finland and Estonia. Listed below is a condensed version of Ten Commandments for Grandparents.

1. Thou shalt show up. Be there for your grandchildren.

2. Thou shalt love thy grandchildren unconditionally. When you give unconditional love you are reflecting a God who loves perfectly.

3. Thou shalt take grandparenting seriously - and lightly. In days of disjointed families, grandparents help create and preserve the spirit of family and the structure which holds it together. In addition to serious talks, be funny, even silly, play, run (or least walk briskly) through the water sprinkler. Hear your grandchild say, "It's fun being with my grandpa/ma."

4. Thou shalt be a grandparent, not a parent. Grandparents do not insist upon their way over the way their children are raising their offspring.

5. Thou shalt insist that in grandparents' home grandparent rules prevail. Children can learn that different rules, standards, rewards and punishment may apply at the grandparents' house, and when it is time to go home, then it is back to the usual routine.

6. Thou shalt tell the old stories and the old, old story. Above all, tell the story of Jesus, of how much Jesus loves your grandchildren and you.

7. Thou shalt be a positive example of what it means to be a healthy person, especially a healthy Christian. Grandparents can be models of faith, solid values, integrity and inner peace

8. Thou shalt treat each grandchild differently. The wise grandparent will recognize that each grandchild is unique and therefore will treat each child in a manner most appropriate to that uniqueness.

9. Thou shalt not insist to your grandchildren that the good old days were the good old days. All family members are challenged to live in a radically changing, ever challenging world and proclaim, "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

10. Thou shalt not perpetuate myths about grandparents. Dispel the myths that grandfathers don't know how to take care of little children, grandmothers just sit in rocking chairs and knit and grandparents spend all their children's inheritance. Teach that grandparents treasure timeless values, love the Lord and care deeply about their grandkids.



  • Skaagan, K. & amp; Kieschnick, M. (1978). Perspectives on effective parenting. Del Mar, CA: Rowe Publishers.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1987). The pastor and the Lutheran school. Itasca, IL: Wheat Ridge Ministries.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1992). Commentary. Itasca, IL: Wheat Ridge Ministries.


  • Kieschnick, M. (1956, May). What makes for effective scheduling. Lutheran Education, 91 (9), 439.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1957, May). Hong Kong, USA. Lutheran Education, 92 (9), 444.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1960, July). A day in my life in Hong Kong, The Lutheran Witness, 5ff.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1965, May). The worldwide task of Lutheran education in the century ahead. Lutheran Education, 100 (9), 386-392.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1966, June). Hong Kong: help wanted. Lutheran Education, 101 (10), 152-155.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1966, December). Ebenezer: a modern children's crusade. Lutheran Education, 102 (4), 167-170.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1967, June). Lutheran schools in Hong Kong. Lutheran Education, 102 (10), 52-155.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1967, September). Ebenezer henceforth. Lutheran Education, 103 (1), 23-26.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1968, February). Give them a vision. Lutheran Education, 103 (5), 236-238.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1970, February). We have this ministry. Lutheran Education, 105 (6), 274-285.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, March). Is your heart in it? Lutheran Education, 108, (4) 243-251.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, January). Lessons for the school board. Advance, 20 (1), 12-13.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, February). DCE - Rx for new life. Advance, 20 (2), 13-14.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, May). Good-better-best. Advance, 20,(5), 28-29.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, June). Planning can be enjoyable. Advance, 20,(6), 41-43.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, September). Ho-hum wow. Advance, 20 (7), 10-11.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, October). Community creating community. Advance, 20 (8), 20-21.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, December). Education is for helping when it hurts. Advance, 20 (10), 22-23.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1973, May). A new leader views the task ahead: Interview between Justus Kretzmann & amp; Melvin Kieschnick. Interaction, 13 (8), 8-11.
  • Kieschnick, M., (1974, August). So all may grow. The Lutheran Witness, 93 (13), 316.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1974, January). Happy new year, neighbor: The world. Advance, 21 (1), 20-21.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1974, March). Board worship or bored worship. Advance, 21 (3), 24-25.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1974, April). Bloom where you are. Advance, 21 (4)), 2.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1974, September). What are we trying to do. Interaction, 14 (11), 2-4.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1975, January). Renewal through ministry. Lutheran Education, 110 (3), 162-167.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1975, January). It's another world - Teach that. Advance, 22 (1), 12-13.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1975, April). Won't you please listen for a change. Advance, 22 (4), 12-13.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1975, September) Parish education - Do it! Advance, 22 (7), 10-11.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1976, October). Theology-youth-reformation. Interaction, 17 (2), 6.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1986, November/December). Teacher as counselor. Lutheran Education, 122 (2), 111-115.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1987, September/October). The master's touch. Lutheran Education, 123 (1), 9-13.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1989, March/April). Pastor/principal teams in urban Lutheran schools. Lutheran Education, 124 (4), 212-217.
  • Kieschnick, M. & amp; Schulz, K. (1991, September/October). First year teachers: Gifts to be cherished and nurtured. Lutheran Education, 127 (1), 30-37.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1991, March). Lutheran funeral in rural Texas. The Lutheran Witness, 110 (3).
  • Kieschnick, M. (1992, January/February). Parents and the urban Lutheran schools: New realities. Lutheran Education, 127 (3), 168-177.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1992, November/December). Not full of new wine, but old dreams-new visions. Lutheran Education, 128 (2), 101-108.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1984, September-1992, June). LSA News, Monthly Editorials, Eastchester, NY.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1994, November/December). Lutheran Education, 130 (2), 72-78.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1994, Fall-1999, Summer). The Good Shepherd Magazine. The Good Shepherd Center for the Family, Bronxville, NY.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2000, winter), Two by two in an air-conditioned ark. Views & amp; Vision, 2 (2), Evangelical Lutheran Education Association, Goodyear, AZ.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2000, March 3). After the ashes as Lent begins: Dust and destroy. The Lutheran, The Lutheran Magazine, Chicago, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2000, August). Team ministry - Signs of health. Shaping the Future Magazine, 5 (1).
  • Kieschnick, M. (2000, August). Well now!, Shaping the Future Magazine, 2 (1).
  • Kieschnick, M. (2000, July/August). Building a healthy preschool director-pastor relationship. Lutheran Partners, 16 (4), 39ff.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2001, Summer). Rooted in prayer - Growing in health. Views and Vision, 2 (4).
  • Kieschnick, M. (2001, May 11). Bullying and youth - Church as an alternative community. The Lutheran, The Lutheran Magazine, Chicago, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2004, spring). Teacher mobility in times of change. Shaping the Future Magazine.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2005, summer). The joy of leadership. Views & amp; Vision, Vol. 6 (4).
  • Kieschnick, M. (2005, fall). Ten healthy exercises for directors and principals. Views and Vision, 7 (1).
  • Kieschnick, M. (2006, March/April). A brief history of Lutheran schools. Lutheran Partners, 22 (2), 38ff.

Training manuals and class materials

  • Kieschnick, M., (1980). Parent Effectiveness Training parent workbook. Effectiveness Training, Inc., Solana Beach, CA.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1983). Clergy Effectiveness Training trainer's guide. Effectiveness Training, Inc., Solana Beach, CA.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1989). The Teacher As Counselor trainer's guide. Center for Urban Education Ministry, Bronxville, New York.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1990). A survival manual for new principals of urban Lutheran schools. Center for Urban Education Ministry, Bronxville, New York.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1992). Teachers sent by God: A multi-media training course for new teachers in Lutheran schools. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL.

Devotional materials

  • Kieschnick, M. (2000). A time to learn, a time to pray. From the Fringe to the Center, 27, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2001). Touch eternity, Safety First, 54, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2001). Reflections on the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the Apostles Creed, Ron Lavin, I Believe, help my unbelief, 197, CSS Publishing Company, Inc., Lima, OH.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2002). Getting to Easter. Linking Hearts and Hands, 46, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2002). Why Rosario didn't bathe, Lester Bayer, Memories and Mentors, (2). Itasca, IL: Wheat Ridge Ministries.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2002). Purgatory at the Kyber Pass, Lester Bayer, Memories and Mentors, (3). Itasca, IL: Wheat Ridge Ministries.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2003). Motivation. Follow Jesus in the world, 7, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2004). Create memories. Let the Children Come, 52, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2005), Living in God's amazing grace. I'm thirsty, 10, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (2005), Living in God's amazing grace. Rough Places, 21, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL.


  • Kieschnick, M. (1988, winter). Ways to build self-esteem in the Lutheran classroom. Lutheran Education Association Monograph Series, 13 (2), Concordia University, River Forest, IL.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1993). Lutheran urban schools: Mission and purpose. Center for Urban Education Ministry, Bronxville, NY.
  • Kieschnick, M. (1999, November). What makes a Lutheran educator a Lutheran educator? Shaping the Future Magazine, 4 (2), Lutheran Education Association, River Forest, IL.

Kieschnick, M. (1987). The pastor and the Lutheran school. . Available on website:

Clear articulation of important role which pastors can play in supporting a congregation's preschool or elementary school.

Kieschnick, M. (1988). Ways to build self esteem in the Lutheran classroom. Lutheran Education Association Monograph Series, 13 (2).

Reflects author's commitment to the historic Christian faith and its relationship to current education methods.

Kieschnick, M. (1965). The worldwide task of Lutheran education in the century ahead. Lutheran Education, 100 (9), 386-392. Concordia University, River Forest, IL.

Reflects the author's consistent emphasis on the need for an international focus in Christian education.

Kieschnick, M. (1987) The city and the church, our home and our hope. Center for Urban Education, Wheat Ridge Ministries, Itaska, IL.

Major position paper reflecting author's commitment to Christian education ministry in the city.

Kieschnick, M. (1987). The master's touch. Lutheran Education, 122 (2), 111-115. Concordia University, River Forest, IL.

Reflects author's emphasis on the importance of teachers of the Christian faith to be rooted in the life and work of Jesus.

Author Information

Stephen Schmidt

Stephen Arthur Schmidt, Ed.D. Theology and Education, Columbia University, Union Seminary (Joint Degree Program), New York; Post Doctoral Fellowship, University of Chicago Divinity School; former Professor Religious Studies, Mundelein College, Chicago, and Professor, Education and Theology, Concordia University, River Forest, Il. Currently Professor of Pastoral Studies, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University, Chicago.Schmidt has followed the career of Kieschnick for 50 years and is pleased to consider him a valued colleague and esteemed friend.