On Tuesday, November 10, 2015, at Noon, I “attended” a Christian Schools International webinar presented by Bart DenBoer, the current Superintendent of Traverse City Christian School in Michigan. Mr. DenBoer very much inspired me to make applications of his principles to Oskaloosa Christian School. I believe his teaching should / could / might / MUST guide Oskaloosa Christian School Board members and teachers in their future decision-making. If you would like to read my summary of the webinar, “Reformed Worldview: Getting to ‘Why’,” please read on. . . .
“Reformed Worldview: Getting to ‘Why'”
By Bart DenBoer, Worldview Specialist (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Christian Schools International Webinar
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Principal, Oskaloosa Christian School
My goal today is to relate the concept of “getting to why” with the Reformed worldview, and how that worldview might be expressed in our mission statements. That’s a big agenda today. I need and invite your input and questions in the dialogue box of the computer screen throughout and at the end of the webinar.
I am currently Superintendent at Traverse City, Michigan Christian School.
Last year, I was Interim Superintendent of San Jose Christian School.
Previously, I served 2 years at Bethlehem Bible College and Bethlehem Christian Academy in Palestine, Israel. I helped start this new school, which, initially had no curriculum or staff. As with all other schools, we initially asked, “Why are we here?”
Previous to that, I was both a teacher and administrator at Holland (Michigan) Christian School for 35 years.
I have taken Mission Statements and led schools through strategic planning driven by those Mission Statements.
That’s my journey as an educator, influencing my perspective.
Two Assumptions I Make
Your school is mission-oriented; your mission influences all decisions, including budget, hiring, evaluation, etc. If such is not true of your school, it doesn’t really matter what your Mission Statement is. Do people know your Mission Statement? Is the Mission Statement posted throughout the building? Does your school care about your Mission Statement?
The profession of Christian education is well-placed to build the Kingdom of God. What other profession is better suited for front-line engagement and transformation of the culture than Christian education?! [I’d say none other!] What does that look like at your school? How can you intentionally build the Kingdom of God now?
I am privileged to share some of what I have learned with those from whom I have learned so much. I know many of you. I am humbled and blessed to share with all of you today.
My Personal Mission / My “Why”:
“To advance the Kingdom of God by encouraging excellence in Christian education.”
Overview of This Presentation
The Importance of “Why”
Highlights of Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”
Aspects of a Reformed Worldview
Q&A Throughout and at the End
THE IMPORTANCE OF “WHY”
People don’t care WHAT you do. They care about WHY you do it.
The “why” is important for decision-making. Should we add special education? Should we add football?
The “why” is important to promoting the school. If we don’t have a clear idea about why we exist, how can we convince others to join us?
The “why” is important to enrollment. To “succeed,” we need people who believe what we believe, not just those looking for an educational service. People don’t agree with us; the education “agrees with them.”
The “why” is important to hiring, evaluation, and celebration. To make the mission live, everyone needs to be encouraged to be on-board with the mission. Everyone needs to know and be driven by the Mission Statement.
HIGHLIGHTS OF “HOW GREAT LEADERS INSPIRE ACTION,” BY SIMON SINEK
Sinek emphasizes starting with the “why,” rather than always fixating on the “how” and the “what.”
Real tasks swamp us.
Are we laying bricks or building a cathedral? We have lost the sense of the mission, if we see the primary activity of students as laying bricks.
Interview and hire staff members who share your sense of mission-driven decision-making.
Celebrate examples of mission-driven decisions.
Evaluate all staff members according to the Mission Statement.
The administrator must model mission-driven decision-making.
Start each new unit with the end in mind. What do you want students to be able to know and do as a result of this course of study?
In Christian education, we believe we have limited funding and resources. But, really, ALL organizations have limited funding and resources. We believe in a God of abundance, and we are great stewards of our resources. Succeeding and failing are not necessarily directly related to resources. We so often do more with less. Some people with little or no funding changed the world, because they passionately lived their missions, i.e., the Wright Brothers, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.
We all know WHAT we do. Some of us know HOW we do it. But few of us give deep consideration to WHY we do what we do.
Here’s one of your Mission Statements:
“In light of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of God’s Word, we will educate each unique student in cooperation with the Christian community, so he or she is equipped and inspired to make a difference for Jesus Christ in the World.”
Making a difference for Jesus Christ in the world is the why. Educating is the what. Approaching each student as individuals is the how.
Most of you have a set of mission statements. Take one. And practice the whats, hows, and whys of the statement.
I chose Oskaloosa Christian’s Mission Statement:
“To assist parents in equipping their children mentally, physically, and spiritually to be effective disciples of Jesus Christ by offering a quality Christ-centered education.”
The what: assist parents in equipping their children mentally, physically, and spiritually
The why: for children to be effective disciples of Jesus Christ
The how: by offering quality, Christ-centered education
Is this the why which was, is, and will be for Oskaloosa Christian School?!
The why should jump out at the reader.
People don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it. To what extent do we think Sinek is right in this assertion? Is that our experience?
Plan things in your school because of the why. Be intentional about living-out your why. Actions must match the mission statement. [Talk is cheap. We need to put our money where our mouth is.]
You don’t need to emphasize the word, “reformed,” but the reformed worldview is attractive to people, including those who have never been exposed to a reformed worldview.
Here is my favorite Mission Statement of all submitted:
“The mission of San Jose Christian is to advance the kingdom of God by providing exceptional teaching and curriculum fully integrated with a biblical perspective.”
The hows and whats can be good, but prospective parents must be excited about the why.
Loyalty Customers: We need a core constituency of believers — those who enthusiastically embrace our why.
Value Customers: These “Walmart vs. Target” constituents tend to leave as soon as there is a better deal somewhere else.
What is your experience with Loyalty vs. Value customers?
It’s hard to move Value Customers to the Loyalty column. But we can’t give up on this! We can’t not try! Live-out your mission, so people will sit up / stand up and take notice! Committed Christian community within the context of school will inspire people who have never experienced such a culture. We’re naive to think that’s going to happen to everyone, or that such will happen automatically.
It hurts to “lose” a long-time supporter (loyal) customer because of a losing basketball program. Was that supporter a Loyalty Customer or a Value Customer? I’d assert the latter, rather than the former.
If we don’t know the why we do what we do, how will we ever reach those who believe what we believe? [Sounds a lot like Dr. Del Tackett in “The Truth Project”: “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?”]
MLK, Jr. and the Wright Brothers believed they could change the course of the world. They were driven by a cause they believed in and lived.
What do we believe at Oskaloosa Christian School?
Does Oskaloosa Christian believe we could change the course of the world?!
A REFORMED WORLDVIEW
There is not a square inch of creation over which Christ does not say, “This is mine!” (Abraham Kuyper)
God is sovereign over everything, including education.
God’s people proclaim God’s rule over all of His Kingdom, working for shalom, reconciling the gulf between the creation as it was intended to be and the world as it is in a state of sin.
Believers call the entire world, including all of its institutions and all of its relationships, to submit to the Lordship of Jesus the Messiah.
What are the implications for Christian educators?
We must prepare students to be agents of transformation in the here-and-now. [Of course, we await the Kingdom as it was intended to be, when Jesus ushers in the New Jerusalem, but, until then, we CAN experience the Kingdom of God breaking through on earth.]
Because all creation is “holy,” every curricular area is sacred and subject to transformative action. [We educate “redemptively.” All of God’s creation can be redeemed, including education.]
We discern degrees of brokenness and wholeness, then determine our role in transforming to wholeness.
We educate within the context of an authentic Christian community. We do education together. Ours is a covenant community.
I submitted an online question: “How do we lead a revival of “Christian education?”
I submitted a second online question: “Do we truly believe our Christian schools can change the course of the world? Do we believe what Jesus said in John 14:12 — “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing; he will do even greater things than these!”
Those were big questions, and Mr. DenBoer certainly didn’t have enough time to adequately answer either one of the questions in the short time allotted.
Continue to pound the community with stories about how your school is leading through mission.
Emphasize the “community of believers.”