Leading a Christian College, University, Graduate School, or Seminary is a challenge amidst the varied uncertainties of our day. It is especially disheartening when academic publications use terms like “tsunami”, “danger”, and “at risk” to describe the perilous nature of the educational landscape. One wonders how the smaller private Christian colleges that are enrollment driven will surf the coming tsunami and overcome the challenge.
This brief presentation is not meant to be a “how to” survival guide for the small college, rather it is meant to be a compelling reason to stay in the water and surf the tsunami. It is girt and zest resolve for Christian Liberal Arts Education in light of God’s glorious plan for the church.
God’s decreed purpose for the Church is a reason to do a Christian Liberal Arts College
So what do I have in mind when I reference the church? I am not talking about a particular denomination nor am I talking about a particular style of ministry. Rather, I am talking about what the Bible reveals to us about the body of Christ called the Church.
The Church, in a universal sense is the body of Christ, made up of all those who are spiritually united by faith in the finished work of Christ, who paid sin’s debt. The Church is the body of Christ. The Church is the bride of Christ. The Church is the assembly of the saints who were delivered out of a kingdom of darkness into a kingdom of light. The church is the people of God.
The Church, in a local sense, is an organized group of believers in a particular geographic location who gather under the direction of biblical leadership for Bible Preaching, worship that includes baptism and celebration of the Lord’s table, and for evangelism and discipleship.
What is so special about the church that it should define how we do the work of a Christian liberal arts college? Consider the impact of the following biblical texts.
Matthew 16:18 — It was what Christ promised to build. It will not be defeated by diabolical efforts.
Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:40-41 — It is the reality and the community that Christ desires for every believer.
The Summary Statements of the Acts Narrative [6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20: 28:31] — It iswhat Christ is growing and advancing through the spread and furtherance of His Word.
Acts 20:28 — It is what Christ purchased with His own blood.
Ephesians 3:10 — It the means that God has chosen to make known His manifold wisdom.
Ephesians 4:1-16 — It is the body of Christ gifted and outfitted for life and service.
Ephesians 5:22-24 — It is what Christ loved and that for which Christ gave His life.
1 Timothy 3:15 — It is the pillar and ground of truth that upholds revealed truth.
1 Peter 2:5 — It is a holy priesthood worshipping the Lord in Spirit and Truth.
1 Peter 5:1 — It is the flock of God cared for by Christ, the Chief Shepherd
Revelation 19:7-9; 21:9 — It is the bride of Christ that will enjoy a special place with Him in eternity.
In light of these biblical text that affirm the unique nature of the church and its relationship the Lord, how could the church the vision and direction of a Christian Liberal Arts College?
The church helps us understand our place in the biblical story. Jesus never promised any of us in education, I will build your college; I will build your university; or I will build your school. If Christ is building His church, then any ministry we build should not compete with His construction plans. From the authority of the biblical story, I infer that a Christian academic institution should be founded with a purpose to serve the church and not supplant it.