4 Reasons Why Christian Schools Should Prepare for Crisis

Over the five decades I have been working in Christian Education, I can say with confidence that the single constant has been crisis. While crisis may appear in many forms: integrity, financial, social, theological, or policy, addressing crisis appropriately is of paramount importance.

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More often than not schools are caught off guard, heightening the crisis environment and furthermore creating long-term debilitating problems. If only we would take scripture more seriously or seek counsel we could be ready. "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety."(Proverbs 11:14 ESV) Considering before-hand will positively affect the discipling mission of Christian education as scripture encourages. "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28 ESV)

Luke may make reference to building, or battle, "counting the cost" and Proverbs to seeking guidance as preparation, the meaning is farther reaching than the obvious. Planning ahead, can anticipate what could happen. Considering possible outcomes of "cultural drift" and how it might affect your school, will provide benefit, a philosophical "return on investment" for the time you spend! In actuality you will find yourself in a better place, a place from which you can "respond" and not "react." You may be asking, "Why is it better to respond?" Consider the following four reasons.

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1. Being Prepared - By being prepared, ready to respond, specific steps can be taken to keep everything under control. Preparing and being ready puts a school "out in front" of a crisis. Responding introduces a school to a process: analyzing the crisis. Researching what other schools have done, deciding what is best for the school, and what is left is "implementation." Reacting is a reflex and often without forethought. Being prepared lessen damage and helps to maintain a reputation!

2. Being Aware of Positioning – Responding and not reacting better positions a school to minimize damage and embarrassment while building confidence in its constituency and the community. Engaging in the activity of reacting is counter-productive and can position the school in the far-reaching areas it doesn't wish to be. Recovery and rebuilding will become ever more difficult because of the loss of time and the story-line which has been allowed to develop.

3. Being Reasonable – I Peter 3:13 through 16 (ESV) "For who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, or be troubled but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." This is why "Summit Ministries" (, whose influence at Christian high schools and colleges is enjoying wide-spread success. We are expected to be spiritually ready "to give an answer," to respond to crisis from a thoroughly biblically formed "policy" in anticipation of crisis possibilities. Responding will indicate, publically that schools know what they believe and can always act boldly. Reacting just telegraphs a lack of confidence and readiness.

4. Being Positivistic/Attractive – I cannot recall any school with which I have been in contact which was not actively interested in positive "public relations." Not one! Readiness to respond and not just react immediately creates positive "PR" and reveals the kind of leadership qualities which are attractive to the general public. A "rapid response time" can and probably will save a school's reputation and open the door to institutional advancement for both gifts and student recruitment.

Anticipating what could possibly happen, determining cultural outcomes allows for an ever stronger school and response to those issues which could cause a crisis. Remember a crisis isn't only a tragic physical event on campus. They can be segmented into at least two categories: 1. Unlawfulness, that which is essentially within the school, but will do exterior institutional damage (e.g. harassment, assault, embezzlement). 2. Spiritual principles, that which is policy driven but can attract exterior interest or attention (e.g. Christian belief both theological and social).

Calvin Miller in A Symphony in Sand wrote, "'I think that God has given me a task.' 'Was the task an easy one?' 'It was and O so sweet!' 'Then it was not from God, for what He asks requires the rending of the soul.'" Preparing to respond is no easy task. It will require a "rending of the soul." The process must be bathed in prayer, given over completely to God, and searched in scripture for solutions. William Jennings Bryan said, "If civilization is to be saved from the wreckage threatened by intelligence not consecrated by love, it must be saved by the moral code of the meek and lowly Nazarene. His teachings, and His teachings alone, can solve the problems that vex the heart and perplex the world."

Education is serious business and we must make certain that nothing interrupts or intrudes on this education of young people. The late Paul Kienel reminded us that, "The task of training our children to center their lives in Christ and outfitting them for the future is no less than our number one mission in life. Christian school education stands ready to assist in that all-important responsibility." While it has been said that "A crisis is an invitation to a deeper walk with God," we must take the initiative for that deeper walk and not allow each individual crisis to motivate us to action.

Robert F. Davis has 40 years of experience providing counsel for educational and not-for-profit institutions. He previously served as vice president for Advancement at Bryan College in Tennessee and consulting vice president for Advancement and Alumni Affairs at Liberty University in Virginia.

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