Admission

Often people wonder why I find it so important that the vision and mission is fully fleshed out. One of my reasons is that vision and mission shape the policies (Ends). This is most evident when it comes to the policy (End) that determines admission. Whom do we admit to SCS? The answer to that question is shaped by our vision and mission. Let me provide two examples to demonstrate this.

First, if our vision and mission is to achieve certain academic standards, then we will admit students who will help us accomplish those goals. Most often, the policy (End) will include words such as ‘exceed <certain standard> by <certain> percent.’ In this situation, students who struggle academically will make it harder for SCS to meet that goal. Why would we then admit these students?

A second example has to do with athletic goals. If the policy (End) has words pointing to a certain level of athletic prowess, then we will be seeking students who will help us achieve that goal. Why would we then admit students who were not athletic?

I realize these two examples may be a bit simplistic, but they still serve to illustrate the importance of putting a lot of thought and effort into a clear vision and mission. In the absence of a clear vision and mission, we have admitted anyone who meets our minimal standard (at least one Christian parent). However, this will make it much more difficult to meet our policies (Ends) if those policies (Ends) are not in alignment with the intended vision and mission.

I invite you to offer some suggestions as to what you would like to see in our graduates. What should we focus on? How would that focus impact our admissions policy?

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Remembrance Day

We Remember

We think of soldiers fighting

For us they dared face death

To keep our flag high flying

Right to their last breath.

We think of the horrors of war

Death, destruction, and disease

They gave their all; they had no more

So they’d and we’d have peace.

 

Peace and freedom, oh what joy

Safe from tyranny’s plot

Free, our hearts and mouths employ

Our thanks to those who fought.

But as we think of those that died

Another Soldier comes to mind

Jesus – He the highest price has paid

More than all of those combined.

 

The price He’s paid provided

Peace ‘tween GOD and man

Now in His freedom we abide

According to our Master’s plan.

Our hearts and minds should bow in love

In deepest gratitude to Him

We now may dwell with Him above

Because real peace He’s given.

 

We remember Him who gave His all

We give Him the glory and all laud

Who redeemed us after Adam’s fall

By His own precious blood

We remember His own sacrifice

The blood He’s shed for us

Covers all our sin and will suffice

For those that He redeemed thus.

 

Dr. Christian Klaue

Marketing

Over the last few weeks I have described a vision and a mission for SCS. Both of these are requirements before any real marketing can begin. During our ACSIWC Teacher’s Conference in Calgary, I attended a workshop on branding Christian schools. In listening to the various principals talking, I was amazed to hear that schools spent anywhere from $35,000 to $350,000 on branding and marketing their school. Not only is that quite a range, that is also quite an amount to be spending on marketing.

I have a different philosophy around marketing. I look at marketing as part 5 of a much longer process. Part 1 would be the development of a vision. Part 2 would be the development of a mission. Part 3 would be the development of policies that are in alignment with the vision and mission. Part 4 would be the development of resources and instructional strategies that allow the classroom activities to be in alignment with the vision, mission, and policies. Then, and only then, does ‘marketing’ really make sense.* (*We are always marketing. I get that. However, what I’m talking about is making a deliberate, intentional effort at marketing the school.)

The reason I have arranged my marketing strategy in this order is that I believe that satisfied parents are the best way to market a Christian school. If the parents are in agreement with the direction the school is moving in, and are satisfied with the education their children are receiving (I am deliberately setting the bar low; I would love it if all SCS parents were thrilled with the education their children are receiving), they will pass on how they feel to other parents. Parents speaking with conviction about how satisfied they are with the educational choices they have made is the best, and most effective, method of marketing. However, this method of marketing depends heavily on the school having a clear direction and the teachers and students clearly in alignment with that direction.

There are many other ways of getting information out about the school. All of them are useful in some ways (some far better than others). We need to continue working with these ways, knowing these are only really effective when there are satisfied parents.

As the school administrator, it is my job to work with the board on ensuring the alignment between vision, mission, and policies and then work with the staff to ensure alignment between vision, mission, policies, and what takes place in the classroom. It is my goal this year to evaluate where we are in this process and then to ensure that we are making progress.

Vision

I am starting to frame a vision statement for SCS. I have a VERY preliminary version available at the moment: To develop stewards of God’s grace who glorify Christ intellectually, spiritually, socially, and physically. Our motto would then be re-worked to say Stewards…glorifying Christ.

I would like to break this down section by section.

To develop – students, actually anyone for that matter, do not just become something/someone. They need help (as do we all). It is a part of our role as teachers that we help students in this process (as does the Holy Spirit). Both parents/guardians and educators (teachers/EAs) help in this process. To develop is a verb that indicates an iterative process and revision; it is not something that is easily happens.

Stewards – this is, perhaps, a new concept for many. I have blogged about this word in the past. The main difference between a servant and a steward is that a servant does not need to (or get to) know what the master is thinking; a steward must understand the mind of the Master in order to fulfill the duties wisely. Developing stewards implies that each of our students at SCS is growing closer in their relationship to God as they seek to more accurately understand His will for their lives and what that looks like for them on a daily basis.

of God’s grace – this phrase modifies the word ‘stewards.’ By adding ‘of God’s grace,’ there is a recognition that we do not represent ourselves. We have been ‘bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s’ (1 Cor. 6:20). Our redemption is based on God’s grace, not on our accomplishments. As Peter explains in 1 Peter 1, 17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. In both these passages, we are reminded of our salvation; this helps us see ourselves in the correct light: we are sinners in need of salvation. It is impossible to maintain our pride in light of this admission. Being a steward is already an admission that prohibits pride; our need for salvation drives that point further home.

who glorify Christ – our main goal in life ought to be to glorify Christ. Both the Heidelberg and the Shorter Westminster Catechism state: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Glorifying and enjoying indicate that we have subsumed our desire for importance and have replaced it with a desire to make Christ pre-eminent. This thought carries with it the idea that we love Christ ‘We love Him because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19); why else would we seek His glory? It would not be out of fear, as Christ repeatedly said, ‘Do not fear’ or ‘be not afraid.’ We seek to demonstrate our love for Him in four specific arenas:

intellectually – how do we love God with our minds? There have been whole books written on that topic. Some of the authors include Harry Blamires (The Christian Mind), Phillip Dow (Virtuous Minds), James Sire (The Discipleship of the Mind), Bruce Lockerbie (Thinking and Acting Like a Christian), and J. P. Moreland (Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of Your Soul). The main aspect here is that students learn what they need to learn as part of their normal education, but through a biblical lens. Another way of putting this, is that the development of a biblical worldview is of paramount importance. Every subject in school must be taught through that biblical lens so that students know how to properly see the world. When students see the world as God does, they will be able to act in such as way as to glorify God.

spiritually – this aspect of student life is, in many ways, the most important. As a Christian school, we offer daily devotionals, both first thing in the morning with O Canada and a devotional, as well as a classroom devotional, chapel, Christian Education, and Christian service opportunities. By the time students graduate, we want students to know their Bibles and know how to properly read, understand, and apply Scripture. We want students to be both hearers and doers of God’s Word (James 1:21), this this is what brings glory to Christ.

socially – this aspect of student life is developed, whether the teachers are involved or not. However, the key here is that students will not develop as they ought to without direct intervention of the teachers and the work of the Holy Spirit. Teachers spend time discussing, showing, and modelling appropriate social behaviour. Even in the secondary classes, many teachers take the time to explore appropriate and inappropriate social behaviour. It is also a good reminder to us, as adults, to always be aware that we, too, are modelling appropriate (or inappropriate!) social behaviour. Even though the world looks more at our outward behaviour and the Lord looks more at our heart, having a difference in our behaviour also brings glory to God (but only if the outward behaviour is a reflection of the inward reality).

and physically – even though this aspect comes last, that does not mean it is not important. Since our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 1 Cor. 6:19), it behooves us to take care of our bodies, both physically and spiritually. The spiritual aspect I have already addressed. However, in terms of the physical development, this is achieved through the physical education classes as well as inter-mural sports and team (competitive) sports. SCS also maintains an outdoor education program for the secondary students. However, it is not enough that we offer opportunities for sports (and nutrition); rather, these are opportunities to demonstrate Christian character (sportsmanship) in a competitive, athletic environment. Athletics is one activity where tempers can flare and where inner character gets revealed. This provides our students with a wonderful opportunity to let the light and love of Christ shine as they are competing against others.

Please let me know your thoughts on this topic. I would love to have a conversation around these ideas and see what you, the SCS school community, think.

Discipleship Versus Evangelism

Just as an opening disclaimer, I know that this post will probably be (somewhat) controversial.

I have heard of open enrollment Christian schools who accept any (qualifying?) student. These schools are often labelled ‘evangelism’ schools. By using this term, I believe people are saying that most students are not Christians nor come from churched families and so need to be evangelized. Evangelism, then, seems to be the most important aspect of the spiritual life of the school.

Other schools, SCS included, label themselves as discipleship schools. The thought is that the students are Christians, or, at least, one parent is, and the students are predominantly churched. In this case, discipleship is the most important aspect of the spiritual life of the school.

In an ideal world, schools might be able to choose one or the other focus. However, in the real world (this is my bias coming through) both are required.

A common scenario is that Christian parents who regularly attend church with their children still have unsaved children. If there are multiple children in the family, that does not mean that all of them are saved. If there are unsaved students from strong Christian families, I believe they need to be evangelized. How does that fit into a discipleship school though? That brings me to a further question. At what stage in a person’s salvation story does evangelism end and discipleship begin? Could discipleship begin before salvation? What about the work of the Holy Spirit? These are all questions I have struggled with in dealing with this situation.

That line of questioning pre-supposes the parent(s) is(are) saved. I have come across faithful church-goers who have not been saved. I have met with one family where both parents attend (and have for years) a church and have been baptized and yet are (most likely) not saved. They wanted to enroll their children in a discipleship school. The family was not accepted because there was no evidence of salvation on either part of the parents. They protested and used their church attendance and being baptized as evidence that they were Christian. In talking with them, they had no conception of what salvation included. (We had two standard questions: who is Jesus Christ? and why should God allow you into His heaven?) In their minds they were Christians; in the minds of the admissions committee, they were not. Making this distinction made me feel like I was taking on the role of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t (and don’t) like feeling like that.

A third issue is a family (parent(s) or child(ren)) who are seeking God but have not yet found Him. They are attending a church but have not come to Christ yet. I know this family would not be accepted into a discipleship school. And yet…. My heart goes out to them as they are searching for and desiring salvation; they are just not there yet.

A final issue I have had to deal with included having students who were saved (usually through a Christian camp) but with unsaved parents. The children now wanted to attend a Christian school for discipleship purposes, but their parents were not saved nor attending a church. The children attended Sunday school and/or youth group. What does a discipleship school do with children (potential students) in that situation?

In dealing with these four issues, I have changed how I view admissions. I did not like the role I was placed in in trying to determine who was Christian and who wasn’t. The wording of my mission statement had been something along the lines of ‘support Christian parents….’ The mission statement eventually changed to ‘assist parents in meeting their God-given mandate….’ This removed the requirement for me to play Holy Spirit in trying to determine if a parent was truly saved. The onus was now on the parent(s).

This opened the admissions door to ‘Christian’ and ‘non-Christian’ families. However, because we were now a mission driven school, it meant that parents were committing to helping us (school staff) produce ‘active disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Parents who were truly saved could easily agree with that goal AND non-Christian parents who were seeking God, or were open to their children seeking God, could also agree with that end goal. That invited the school staff (and administrators) to freely evangelize AND disciple all students. Over a two year period, we saw probably 12 students get saved and five baptized. We were able to do away with the pretense that all students were saved and focus on what the students really needed: entering into an active, growing discipleship-relationship with God.

I realize that every school situation is different. What was a possibility at one school may not be a possibility at another school. That is only to be expected. However, it is still a good idea to think and process some of these concerns/issues/topics. Please let me know your thoughts on the subject. I would love to have further conversation around these thoughts.

The New SCS Mission Statement

Having a compelling mission statement makes it easier for everyone and everything to work together to meet the one goal of furthering the mission.

The SCS Mission Statement is: SCS exists to assist Christian parents by providing a Christ-centred education to prepare and challenge students to strengthen the family, serve the Church, and impact the world.

Let me break that down a bit to see where we are heading.

SCS exists to assist – to assist means that we, as teachers, do not have the primary responsibility over the children. The parents still bear the full responsibility for the education of their children; parents have delegated some of the ‘academic’ part of the education to SCS and its teachers. Parents still work with their children on various assignments, homework, and test prep as well as help reinforce the academics over the summer holidays.

Christian parents – SCS is primarily a discipleship school. (The question of where evangelism ends and discipleship begins is a topic for another day). As a discipleship school, the expectation is that at least one parent is Christian. (Again, the definition of ‘Christian’ can become challenging the further one tries to define what this looks like). Regardless of the particular definitions, the goal is to have a Christian influence in the home so that the Holy Spirit can do His work of conviction and teaching. There is also a common understanding of and support for the Statement of Faith.

by providing a Christ-centred education – This is one of the biggest differences between SCS and any other school within SPSD. Every school teaches its faith through the practical application of its worldview. SPSD schools have their faith perspective: secular humanism. SCS has its faith perspective: Christianity. The easiest way to differentiate between the two is for us to focus on Christ. The more we focus on Christ, the greater the difference is going to be between SCS and any other SPSD school. We will strive for a Christ-centred education. The Lord Jesus IS the Truth; as we focus on Him, we focus on Truth. This is a focus we have been engaged in over the years, but perhaps not as effectively as we could or should. This will be a major focus for the teachers this year. What that means is that we view the content for every subject through the lens of Christ: both in terms of what He has said about the subject as well how we can honour Christ through that subject.

to prepare and challenge students – For most of the elementary years, the students get prepared to explore and understand all sorts of topics, from ELA to PE and all subjects in between. As the students get older, instruction moves from understanding the content and building skills to discovering how to use that content and those skills after secondary graduation. Teachers start to challenge the students to use their skills and content knowledge to make a difference. Where can or should that difference- making skill be employed? That is dealt with in the next three phrases.

to strengthen the family – The family is under attack in more ways that ever. Politicians, the media, society in general have all come out against the family. The biblical ideal of a husband and wife with their children (see Gen. 2:24 and Gen. 4:1) is being replaced. It is not difficult to see the results of tampering with God’s order. The family, as God has structured it, is the key building block of society; as the family goes, so goes society. Christian parents have a mandate to raise their children in such a way that the children will take the biblical example they have been given and live that out in their own family lives. In the school context, we will be helping the children learn some of the skills needed to strengthen the family and will then challenge the children (young adults by graduation time) to strengthen their own families as they prepare to leave school and after they have left school.

serve the Church – The second institution God created is the Church. Just as the family is under attack, so the church is under attack. Our graduates not only need the skills to serve the Church, they need the inspiration to do so as well. The graduating class takes on greater spiritual responsibility during their final year, which stands them in good stead as they graduate and then have the opportunity to become more active within their church (and not merely because their parents have been involved). It will be a part of our mandate to prepare and challenge the students to take on active roles within the Church, regardless of where they end up living.

and impact the world – Finally, graduates who strengthen the family and serve the Church will impact the world. At that stage, students don’t need to try to change the world, they will be well underway to being a positive influence. We have been challenged to be salt and light in our community (see Matt. 5:13-16).

I would welcome your comments as we seek to flesh out this new mission statement over the course of the year. I invite you to pray for us and with us as we implement this mission.

The Steward Leader Model

“From the Great Man theory through Strategic Leadership and beyond, the steward leader model stands apart in three ways: First, these theories start with acts of leadership deemed to be effective and try to work back to find common traits and characteristics. Second, they rely on the basic goodness of human nature as the basis for the work of leadership. And third, they have a common view that the leader moves people toward the goal of personal happiness with the hope and belief that people – and leaders – can actually know what makes them happy and can pursue it without harming their neighbour.

The steward leader approach is based on the transformation that takes place in the heart of a leader as a faithful and godly steward, and works from this inner transformation (which is ongoing) to the outward impact when a godly steward is called to lead. This inward-outward direction and the emphasis of being over doing set the steward leader apart from this array of secular leadership theories.

The steward leader model also takes seriously the Christian doctrine of original sin. The very term steward denotes dependence on the one who is the true owner. And that complete ownership calls for holistic stewardship. Again, our self-understanding is based on the person and work of Jesus Christ. That is, in the mirror we see a person created for wholeness, a person lost through sin and a person redeemed in Christ. This kingdom view gives us both our absolute dependence on God and our utter and complete freedom in that dependence. Without the atoning work of Jesus Christ we have no basis for hope. Rather than searching for some hidden inner goodness, we rely wholly on the supreme goodness of our Creator God and his promise to work in us and through us for our transformation into his image. That is a radically different understanding of human nature, and it distinguishes the steward leader approach from the secular models discussed.

Finally, the steward leader takes seriously our utter incapacity both to know what makes us happy and to be able to pursue that happiness without negatively impacting our neighbour’s pursuit of the same. Even further, it rejects the notion that our purpose in life is to pursue our own happiness, replacing it with the values of the kingdom of God, which entreat us to pursue joyful obedience in our calling as godly and therefore holistic stewards.”

I know I have been hammering the steward leader model fairly heavily over the last few weeks, but I feel that strongly about it. This is what our (Christian) society lacks: stewards. If we, here at Saskatoon Christian School, start developing godly stewards, we will be a huge blessing for our families, our churches, our communities, and our societies.

Bibliography

Rodin, R.S., (2010). The Steward Leader: Transforming people, organizations and communities. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic.