A recent report commissioned to examine the impact of “afterschool STEM programs,” leads off like this:
Recent years have seen a growing recognition that social and economic factors play a crucial role in influencing academic success and that young people require supports that extend beyond the school walls. The notion of a “learning ecosystem” is taking root, a concept that places students at the center, with resources and supports organized around them. (Examining the Impact of Afterschool STEM Programs, 2014).
The article puts schools at the top of the list of influences and parents second (glad they included us). While I disagree with much of the report I truly love the ecosystem analogy. The natural, God-given, and God-directed human ecosystem unit is the family. Period. And the larger biome is the Church, both of which reside in this fallen world. The mark of a successful ecosystem is one that begins to effect its surroundings, expanding its borders if you will, extending its wings to cover an increasing territory and sending out its young adults to colonize this area. Clean water and air emanate from this garden, like an undisturbed headwaters.
A species that is successful in this way is called a source population, one that produces so successfully and brings its young up to adulthood (increasingly above mortality rates) to such an extent that this population of a certain species acts as a source for new populations in adjacent areas. In the big ecology picture there is a relationship here, called source-sink dynamics. Either a population is a source or a sink to lesser or greater degrees. A sink population continually needs colonists from outside to keep it alive or it will eventually go extinct.
To be a vibrant home ecosystem, to be a source population that will produce vibrant, brave emigrants, we need to be connected to the true source. We need living water and a continual supply. This can be found nowhere outside of the wonderful Gospel. Jesus has taken our place and given us His Spirit which is our constant source of renewal.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ – John 7:38
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2