All Christian Schools Should Have These 2 Things

There are two important things which provide the foundation of a fine Christian institution, an institution where Christians would be proud to send their children and of which these children would be proud to be an alumnus! These "two important things" are the "Mission Statement" and the established "school distinctive."

Now, while everyone "assumes" they know what a mission statement is, a request to define it would reveal a lot of fumbling over words. The mission statement tells the public three things: who we are, who we serve, and how we intend to accomplish our task. This statement of three sentences is so important that it should be read or quoted at the beginning of every board or faculty meeting and should be the first thing seen in any marketing material the school produces.

School "distinctives" are decidedly different and while they generally develop over time, should be considered more importantly than is often the case. "Distinctives" are special areas in which a school excels or focuses and may serve as a magnate to the public for consideration.

Neither "mission" nor "distinctive" should be taken lightly. These two "foundations" reveal a wealth of knowledge to anyone seeking understand a school as well as one who wishes to help that school! For me, as a consultant or as a teacher, they became and still are important to my decision making process!

Some years ago I was engaged to help create a strategic plan for one of the oldest Christian schools in the country at which I later taught. An initial question to the school was "May I see the school's "mission statement?" I was told they did not have one.

Imagine that, a 105 years old, at the time, and no mission statement. In operation all of that time and really not knowing what they were doing. Let me add, this school also espoused a specific denominational Christian perspective, stating it was the basis of their education. Interestingly, as time went by, I could not find anyone who could precisely articulate that perspective.

Moving on to "What are the school's distinctives?" will demonstrate whether anyone knows what makes a school special and how it is different from others. Some distinctives to be recognized are, we only accept students from Christian families, our education is college preparatory, six Advanced Placement course are offered to our students, 96% of our graduating senior move on to college, etc. This becomes a marketing tool which reveals, to the public, your school's "niche."

Over the years I have been able to find very few administrators or board members capable of elaborating their distinction, and furthermore they didn't appear to be convinced distinctives were important. With no distinction why should anyone attend the school? Why not unite with other Christian schools in the area and become just one big school?

Can educators really think that parents seeking a Christian education for their children are so uninformed, so ignorant, so uninvolved that they wouldn't investigate to see which school might be best or which provides exactly that for which they are looking?

Scripture mandates our commitment to excellence.

St. Paul expounds it, "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ." (Philippians 1:9-10 ESV)

To fully understand these two foundations I always suggest undertaking, a "Competitive Analysis Review." This review will clearly show just who you are and how you relate to every other educational institutions existing near to you. You will know who your "competition" is, how you should present yourselves, and what your precise "niche" happens to be. It also provides the information for refining the "mission." I have found it strange, perplexing, that most schools don't think they are in competition with anyone and don't even care to consider it.

Failure to contemplate and act upon these two "pivotal" foundations simply confirms that which George Barna, in his book The Power of Vision states, "Unless God's people have a clear understanding of where they are headed, the probability of a successful journey is severely limited. Unless you attend to God's call upon your life (existence), you are likely to experience confusion, weariness, dissipation, and unimportance."

And confusion, weariness, dissipation, and unimportance is exactly what exists "out there."

If this is exactly what exists, what can be done and what can be the result if we pursue serious consideration? Simply to persist at what we have been doing, will result in an "educational desert" and overall a sad and disappointing experience. Don Meyer in The Distiguishing Mark of Leadership (An interactive journey that invites you to ask and answer transformation leadership questions) quotes Frederick Buechner in a section of Chapter Eight called The Desert will Bless You.

Here's the Buechner's quote, "Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead."

Indeed you can learn and should be blessed from your desert experience!

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.

Was this article helpful?

Want more articles like this?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone by making a one-time donation today.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.

Most Popular

Free Religious Freedom Updates

A religious liberty newsletter that is a must-read for people of faith.

More In Opinion