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Christian Education Snippets 06/22

Dear Colleagues,

Most of us will have heard at some time or other something like this: “He gets so stressed out-it must be because he is a perfectionist.” People who speak like this give us a glimpse as to what their worldview is. This quest for perfection is a fool’s errand. The writer of Psalm 119 knew this full well. He says in verse 96 “To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.” He states in this psalm that there is a limit to all perfection. Nothing on earth is without limit or boundary. The boundaries of geography contain the rivers, lakes and oceans of the world. The boundaries of time restrict what we can accomplish in a given day. The limitations of our physical bodies determine what we are capable of doing without assistance from others or some form of technology. Every created thing will decay and wear out-eventually.

Even your cell phone which gave you so much joy when you first acquired it two years ago no longer gives you the sense of status and prestige that it once did. Now it is scratched, the memory is too small and horror of horrors you have to delete some of your photographs in order to continue downloading applications! If only you had the next version then life would be good again! So you think!

There is, however, no limit to God’s perfection. As Creator He is the standard for perfection. We see this in Isaiah 40:13-14: “Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows Him his counsel? Whom did He consult and who made Him understand? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?”

As Christian teachers we need to be aware of our tendencies to demand perfection rather than excellence. One is do-able,the other is not. It is only as the Psalmist ponders His statutes that he sees the limitations of a fractured world of which we are part. This will make us more empathetic in our teaching as our pupils discover for themselves their own limitations and learn to accept themselves and God’s estimation of them: “All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Songs 4:7)

K.M. Ricquebourg

ACSI ZIMBABWE NATIONAL COORDINATOR

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Newsletter 1 of 2022

(Kevin Ricquebourg)

IN THIS ISSUE


Christian Education Snippets
From the Chair……
Kidzcan
School Members
Upcoming Training
Events
Conference Update
Teacher Testimony
Prayer Pointers
info@acsi.co.zw
+263 786 031 794
https://acsi.co.zw

Dear Colleagues,
Declared by some “the best survival book in a decade” 438 Days is the true story of a man who survived fourteen months in a small boat drifting seven thousand miles across the Pacific Ocean.

On November 17, 2012, two men, Alvarenga and his friend Ezequiel Cordoba left the coast of Mexico for a weekend fishing trip in the open Pacific. That night, a violent storm ambushed them as they were fishing eighty miles offshore. As gale force winds and ten-foot waves pummelled their small, open boat from all sides and nearly capsized them, captain Salvador Alvarenga and his crewmate cut away a two-mile-long fishing line and began a desperate dash through crashing waves as they sought the safety of port.

They managed to get to within 20 miles of their desired haven when their outboard motor packed up. Now at the mercy of all the currents they were blown far out to sea. At the end of three months of living by their wits they had both lost weight and were battling to ensure that their water supply carried sufficient to keep them alive. The men had very different characters. Cordoba was given to bouts of depression and he came to believe that he would die shortly. Alvarenga on the other hand had a deeply held conviction that they would both survive the ordeal and live to tell others about it. Cordoba got thinner and thinner and began to entertain thoughts of suicide. Alvarenga did everything in his power to keep his friend alive. He gave him a generous share of the water which they gathered each day and prepared his food like a
cordon bleu. Notwithstanding these efforts Cordoba eventually died hopeless and despairing.


Victor Frankl , well-known neurologist and pioneer of logotherapy, who was an inmate of at least three prisoners of war camps came to believe that only those who had hope in a better future would form the majority of those who would survive the ordeal of being a prisoner of war. He cites the example of two men whom he knew. One man believed that he would survive to see his wife again while the other felt doomed to die in the concentration camp. Within a month the second man was dead.


For the Christian the best always lies ahead! We live in tough times, in a country on the brink of economic disaster, in a world on the cusp of a third world war. It is easy to look at our circumstances and to give up, to despair and to lose hope. At moments like this we must turn to God’s Word and read what God promises to His children. Look what Paul prays for the recipients of his letter to the Romans:


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow
with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”


The above is our theme-verse for the Christian Educators’ Conference later on this year. Look at all the positive words and phrases:


God of hope; joy; peace; overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit.


Is this your experience now? If you’re honest you are probably like me and many others. We glimpse the truth, we have moments of joy. Let’s ask God’s Spirit to give us overflowing hope, peace and joy as a steady experience of His love for us!


Kevin Ricquebourg
ACSI (ZIMBABWE) Coordinator

ACSI ZIMBABWE ADVISORY BOARD 2022

Back Row (Left to Right) : Eric Zinyengere, Kevin Ricquebourg, Lenard Mudiwa, Gus Hulley, Unity Sakhe
Front Row (Left to Right) : Sarah Cross (Chair), George Faneti, Tunga Mashungu, Tavonga Goto, Melanie Martin, Caroline Chirume, Temba Mkhosana, Charmian Deysel

From the Chair…………..


“Shalom” – Peace – was the recent theme for the ACSI Global day of prayer. It is more than a Hebrew greeting.It is more than just well-being. It is an understanding that we have a part to play in God’s larger story. Before time began, God planned for you and your school to make a difference in your community, right where you are, for such a time as this. It is contentment found in Jesus no matter the cultural tides encircling us. As the global team said, “When the Shalom of the Lord is present there is flourishing”, in other words, there is growth and beautiful, extensive, vibrant growth.

As we begin to look ahead at 2022, we are excited at the new opportunities and praying for God’s favour and growth in our membership and areas of influence. We long to be more accessible to anyone interested across Zimbabwe whether in government or private education. We are also looking at how to be a clearer voice in education, declaring God’s standards from a Biblical worldview. We believe this to be key to true holistic education and transformational for our country. In line with ACSI Global, we will be focusing on the 3 pillars of advancement, access, and advocacy. A key part of our advancement is that we long to strengthen partnerships with churches and other interested Christian organisations or individuals. We are also looking at new trainings and continuing to promote PSI, the Paths to School Improvement programme. For access, we continue to work on our data base, strengthen our social media platforms and presence, and also seek ways to subsidise membership fees for struggling schools. Our role in advocacy for now is building relationships and seeking to be a voice for integrating a Biblical worldview in education both to encourage individual teachers as well as institutions.

Please take time to look at our calendar and support any trainings or events as appropriate. Please also give us feedback on events or needs that you have and would like us to include in our partnership with you or your school or church.
In the month of February, many schools and churches and our communities celebrated.

supporting the cause of childhood cancer. Did you know that the founder, Mrs Andrea Whatman, is a member of one of our Associate members, Northside Community Church, and her heart is that Christ stays at the centre of Kidzcan, that each child and family know and hear about Jesus and His love and grace in their lives. We have included a bit of history on Kidzcan so that you can continue to pray and partner and see Gods blessings through being obedient to God’s call, one step at a time.

You will see on the calendar that we are excited to be having a visit by Sean Moore, the Director of ACSI Southern Africa, in early March, and he will be running various workshops, and visits to member schools. One of our partners, KURARAMA TRUST will be running a workshop on 12th March (entitled “The Mess and the Value in It”) to equip teachers – looking at mental health and substance abuse support and understanding. In April we will re-commence PSI trainings and there are still vacancies for new schools to join this two-year training programme to improve their schools. Please contact our office if you are interested.

To go hand in hand with the Peace of God, Shalom, our educators’ conference theme for August is HOPE. Jesus Christ is our HOPE. We have a great line up of speakers excited to support and encourage us.


So as we step into 2022, may the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and PEACE (Shalom) as you trust Him.


Sarah Cross
(Chair)

As I think about KidzCan my mind is drawn to the story of the Little Engine that Could. A large freight train rolled into the station filled with toys for children on the other side of a large mountain. Its locomotive broke down and so the train started asking all the other locomotives, starting with the largest. They all looked at the large freight train and the large mountain and declined. Finally, the freight train asked the smallest (and cutest) locomotive – who said he would try. As the little engine pulled the large freight train over the large mountain you could hear it puffing, “I think I can, I think I can”. At times the mountain was steep, and the puffing was slow, “I… think… I can…!” But finally, the train got to the top of the hill and as it picked up speed, you could hear the engine puff, “I knew I could, I knew I could”. The train arrived at the station and the toys were distributed to the children.

26 years ago, Andrea Whatman came to see me at Northside Community Church. I was the pastor, and she was a member. She said that she felt God wanted her to do something to help children who were sick in hospital. Andrea was a patient in what is now Parirenyatwa Hospital with leukaemia as a child, until she was wonderfully and miraculously healed by God. She knew what it was like to be sick and in hospital. So, we started a ministry called Pari Volunteers. I asked Andrea what this would entail, and she said she had no idea! We learned as we went along, saying, “we think we can, we think we can”. There were times when the journey and the learning curve was steep.

One day Andrea discovered that the Oncology Ward (the ward Andrea was in as a child), only had Paracetamol. The children were weeping and crying out in pain. She burst into my office declaring, “I will not go back unless we do something to fix this!” So, I asked, how do we fix this? To which Andrea replied (again), “I have no idea, but I think we can!” We thought the journey and learning curve up till then was steep. Boy, were we wrong! Andrea pulled a small team together and we started assisting the doctors and hospital source drugs and whatever else they needed. We called on fellow churches and Christians around the world to help us pay for what was needed. We always had just enough! This part of Pari Volunteers grew until it was too big and so, KidzCan was created and registered as a PVO.

Northside continues to support all 4 children’s wards through Pari Volunteers, supplying things KidzCan cannot. KidzCan can only support children with cancer. If a child without cancer needs something, Northside tries to step in.

Kidzcan’s Vision is “A compassionate world where children with cancer are given the chance to lead healthy and fulfilling lives”. And its Mission is “Kidzcan is dedicated to increasing the survival rate of children with cancer in a loving and caring environment”.

We thank God for Andrea (the little, cute engine that could) and we thank God for loving sick Zimbabwean children. KidzCan continues to grow, but that is another story for another time…

Pastor Gary Cross ( Senior Pastor)

WELCOME TO OUR NEWEST MEMBER SCHOOL

PITTER PATTER PRESCHOOL – WESTQUE ACADEMY

We are a Christian School in the heart of Avonlea< Harare. We have been operating since 2012. Our Preschool is called Pitter Patter and the Primary is called Westque Academy. We start taking children from 1½ years to 12 years of age. We have qualified, experienced and God fearing staff and pleasant school grounds for our children to enjoy. Our motto, is “Quest Ad Excellentem Illius” which in English means, Quest for Excellence – Achieving excellence in everything that we do. Our Vision is to be an outstanding Christian School in the community, achieving excellence in everything we do and ensuring every child achieves their full potential.

CURRENT MEMBER SCHOOLS
Celebration International School
Destiny Primary School
Eaglesvale Junior School
Eaglesvale Senior School
Gateway High School
Gateway Primary School
Karanda Mission Primary School
Lendy Park School
Midlands Christian School
Midlands Christian College
Millennial Academy
Mutarazi Junior School
Pitter Patter / Westque
Academy
Rainbow Pre-School
Southern Lights Trust
Success Tutorial College

Upcoming Training Events

The ACSI Paths to School Improvement (PSI) is a strategy to accomplish resourcing as many schools as possible through a school improvement process.
For more information: email info@acsi.co.zw or
Tel: +263 786 031 794

  • Involves a two-year commitment to training, undertaken during school holidays by Heads, and then actioned throughout the term. There is a cost involved. The process of improvement continues as a lifelong commitment by the school.
  • The advantage of this programme is that you walk the continual process in partnership/relationship with other schools, building a community committed to improving Christian Education through Zimbabwe and Africa.

If your school would like more details on the PSI Programme or to join Cohort 3 for training in April 2022 please do contact us at the above email or whatsapp number.

Teacher Testimony

Havinei Chigodora

I am so thankful to the ACSI team for equipping me as a Christian educator with the Biblical knowledge that l need to be able to fulfill the values and mission of Gateway Primary School. As we all know that the school environment has a great impact on how a child develops, Gateway’s Christian Education system has made a huge difference in my life and my children’s ever since we joined the community. My children and l have developed a deep relationship with God and I feel blessed to see that now they understand that God does not only exist on Sundays when they go to church or at home when we pray as a family but that He is constantly at work every single day.

Allow me to commend all the staff members for the shepherding and discipleship work that they’re doing to transform young lives. Speaking from a parent’s perspective and teacher’s perspective it should be said that it only takes witnessing transformation in children that are coming from outside for one to fully acknowledge the positive impact Christian education is making in the school in terms of spiritual growth and personal development. I have witnessed my children’s lives being transformed ever since they joined the system as they have been encouraged to enrich their knowledge of God’s Word through devotions and Biblical integration done during lessons. Now my children are well equipped with both hard skills and soft skills that they need to transform their world and make good choices in everything they do.

Keep doing the brilliant work you are doing ACSI, you have no idea how it is positively impacting the learners lives.

Membership Details

If you would like to enquire about membership of ACSI Zimbabwe please contact the office for details : info@acsi.co.zw or
acsizimbabwe@gmail.com or call +263 786 031 794 https://acsi.co.zw

Membership Categories are as follows:
1) INDIVIDUAL: ($10 per term)
2) SCHOOL: (0.50c per pupil per term)
3) ASSOCIATE: $50 per term (for churches / business organisations)

Prayer Pointers

  • For growth and support to more schools across Zimbabwe through increased membership.
  • For growth in being a voice for all schools working with ministry of education to support holistic education.
  • ACSI Zimbabwe Advisory Board as they strategise for growth in 2022 – 23;
  • Sean Moore as Director of ACSI Southern Africa and his leadership and mentoring role of schools in SA during these challenging times;
  • ACSI Zimbabwe Members Schools: – those who are facing financial and other challenges;
  • Re-commencement of PSI (Paths to School Improvement) training in April 2022;
  • Schools who are currently part of PSI as they implement what they are learning;
  • State schooling system;
  • Protection for our communities, schools and families from Covid 19

If you have something to share, specific prayer requests or response to any article, please contact us : info@acsi.co.zw
acsizimbabwe@gmail.com
If you would like to receive latest news from ACSI Southern Africa please notify by email to info@acsi.co.zw /acsizimbabwe@gmail.com
https://acsi.com

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The Resource Paradox

Dr. Scott Rodin | April 26, 2022

Our schools need resources to flourish. You may add, they need resources to survive. Whether finances, facilities, personnel, volunteers, or students, the drive to secure these resources can become an all-consuming part of a school leader’s work. And no matter how hard we work at it, we can tend to live under the relentless realization that we don’t have enough. Think of your last board meeting, leadership team meeting, faculty meeting or finance meeting. Was the talk of abundance or was it dominated by anxiety over what you lack to be the school you want to be?

As followers of Jesus, this should cause a check in our spirit because while we struggle with this relentless sense of scarcity on one hand, we also believe that God is our provider, and He is faithful. If this is true (and it is!) then how can a faithful God consistently provide us with less than what we need?

I believe this paradox speaks to the heart of the reason we don’t have enough resources in our schools. This tension requires us to conclude one of two things; either 1) God is not willing to provide our needs, or 2) He has.

Christian Education School Resources Contentment Paradox Flourishing

More Resources

Wait, what? Yes, that’s right, if God is our provider and He is faithful, then can we conclude anything other than the fact that what God has provided us is enough? Our reaction to this possibility is often fueled by the ‘realities’ in our world such as the red numbers on our budget or the cry from overworked teachers who are asked to teach too many students in their classrooms for too little pay. These are real problems that would seemingly disappear if we just had more resources.

Or would they? Is our shortage of resources caused by a stingy God, or could it be caused, at least in part, from our inability to name what is ‘enough’? Consider this statement: “If you are not content where you are today as a school, no amount of resources will ever get you there – it’s the great lie of the enemy!”

Could it be that God continually supplies all our needs, only to have us shrug them off in pursuit of more, bigger, newer, etc.? Contentment gets a bad rap in many Christian circles, yet Paul reminded the wealthy of his day that, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6). I would propose we could paraphrase this to say that ‘school leadership with contentment brings great peace.’ We could term this ‘holy contentment.’

Holy Contentment

I believe our schools today need leaders who live and lead with holy contentment. Holy contentment works in three beneficial ways. First, it focuses us on gratefulness for what God has provided rather than anxiety over what we think we still lack. Which sounds more like a characteristic of a follower of Jesus?

Second, it causes us to redouble our efforts to be wise stewards of what we have. If what God has provided you and your school today is enough, how should you be stewarding those resources for His glory? God, keep us from being poor stewards of what you have so graciously provided while at the same time crying out in our discontent for more.

Finally, holy contentment is the position from which God will reveal His vision for the future of your school. Being content in Christ does not negate a desire to grow, it is actually the fertile ground from which that growth flourishes in a way that honors the Sower. Let me illustrate.

Two school leaders announce plans to grow their school 20% over the coming year. Externally, these may look like the same decision. But, consider that inwardly, one leader has chosen this goal out of a deep dissatisfaction of the state of his school and a gnawing discontent that focuses on all that they don’t have (and other schools do). With anxiety and fear, he pushes the school ahead toward the goal.

The other leader lives and leads with a thankful and content spirit. In that contentment, she senses God is leading her to step out in faith and trust Him to grow the school. She leads her team with confidence, quietness of spirit and joy toward the same 20% goal, believing that the same God that provided all her school needed to this point will be faithful to resource this new vision. Two leaders, two identical goals, but two very different perspectives.

We Have Everything We Need

This leads me to suggest that one reason our schools may not have enough resources is that we have defined our ‘enough’ as ‘more than what we have’. What would it look like as a school leader to create a culture that takes seriously David’s confident affirmation, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need?” What might God do for our school if we continually thank Him for all that He has already done and acknowledge what He has provided is enough?

I pray that God might grant us a heart of gratitude for all He has abundantly provided our schools, the wisdom to steward every resource wisely for His glory, and a spirit that is ready to step out in faith when He calls us to an even greater work from our position of holy contentment.

Editor’s Note: Join Dr. Scott Rodin at ACSI’s Flourishing Schools Institute (FSi), where he will be speaking on the topics of sustainability and resource constraints. The next FSi will be in Oak Brook, Illinois (west of Chicago) on June 21-23, 2022. Register your team today!

About the Author

Scott Rodin

Dr. Scott Rodin has a passion for helping Christian ministry leaders take a biblical approach to leadership development, strategic planning, board development and raising kingdom resources. Over the past thirty years, he has worked with hundreds of organizations in the U.S, Canada, Middle East, Great Britain, China, India, the Philippines, and Australia.

Dr. Rodin is president of The Steward’s Journey and Kingdom Life Publishing. He also runs Rodin Consulting, Inc. He is a Senior Fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education, Partner for the Alliance for Board Effectiveness, and is past board chair of China Source and the Evangelical Environmental Network. Dr. Rodin holds Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Systemic Theology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

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Communicating Care in Education

Sean Schat | January 25, 2022

Most teachers enter the profession in order to support student well-being and flourishing. Studies show that the establishment of a caring teacher-student relationship makes a significant difference, with a causal impact on student motivation, student engagement, student attendance, and student preparedness, while also being correlated with student achievement (e.g., while we are not prepared to say that successfully communicating care leads directly to improved student achievement, the two are certainly positively linked).

A caring teacher-student relationship is a transformed relationship, positioning the teacher to be a trusted influence and sounding board for the student, which includes the ability to offer criticisms and advice rooted in care and relationship. However, despite a commitment to care, teachers are not always as successful in communicating care as they intend to be. Too often, there is a disconnect between teacher caring intentions and actions, and the perceptions and experiences of their students. Bridging this gap can be the key to the positive outcomes described earlier.

Defining Educational Care

My recent research explored student experiences of educational care (Schat, 2018; 2020; 2021). Study participants described teacher actions that influenced the successful and unsuccessful communication of care. Data analysis and conceptualization identified three primary dimensions of educational care:

  • Personal Care: Teacher actions that communicate that the teacher cares for the student as a person
  • Pedagogical Care: Teacher actions that communicate that the teacher cares for the student as a learner
  • Interpersonal Care: Teacher actions that communicate that the teacher cares for the student as a member of the classroom community

While intertwined and interrelated, each of the three dimensions is distinguishable, and all three are needed for the communication of educational care. However, the research found that each caring teacher-student relationship is unique. The sequence of the dimensions is determined by the needs of the individual student. Some students first need to be noticed and known. Some need to know that the teacher will help them learn. Some need to have their safety and belonging needs met first.

Communicating Educational Care

It is not sufficient for care to be offered. Educational care also needs to be communicated successfully. The research uncovered six components necessary for this to occur, in this sequence:

  1. Two Care Needs – First, a teacher needs to care for their students. And second, a student needs to be cared for by their teacher.
  2. Teacher Caring Intentions – The caring process is initiated by a teacher’s intention to offer care to their students.
  3. Teacher Caring Actions – Next, a teacher acts on their intentions by choosing behaviors that are intended to communicate their care for their students. One of the key insights that emerged in this study is that caring intentions and caring actions are not sufficient for the successful communication of care, even if they are central to the offering of care.
  4. Student Response – The entire process then turns on the student’s perception and experience. In order for care to be successfully communicated, the student must recognize and respond.  Responses can vary significantly: a smile or nod, a verbal declaration, or, more often, a simple change in behavior that indicates a change in perception.
  5. Establishing a Caring Relationship – A student’s response leads to what is described as the completion of care, indicating the successful communication of educational care and the establishment of a caring teacher-student relationship.
  6. The Outcomes of Educational Care – The formation of a caring teacher-student relationship leads to the research-affirmed outcomes of educational care identified earlier, as well as a transformed relationship.

Applications for the Christian School Classroom

 Although a blog post is not sufficient for fully exploring implications and applications, this research has highlighted a number of important considerations for educators and educational leaders:

  1. The Importance of Relationships – While the pedagogical dimension prioritizes the importance of teachers supporting student learning, the personal dimension reminds teachers of the centrality of the teacher-student relationship, and the interpersonal dimension highlights the nature and impact of relationships within the classroom community. Education is a highly relational process, and positive (and negative) relationships can profoundly impact student growth and learning.
  2. The Centrality of Student Perception – This study carefully distinguishes between teacher caring intentions and the perceptions and experiences of the student. Teacher caring intentions and caring actions are necessary but insufficient. The entire process turns on how the student perceives the teacher’s actions and intentions. Teachers must pay attention to each student’s perceptions. Receptive empathy and effective communication are essential.
  3. Communicating Care – The three dimensions of care (personal, pedagogical, interpersonal) are often the most important takeaway from this research. They provide both a vision of and a language for communicating care. Teachers who seek to communicate care to their students must attend to all three dimensions.
  4. The 13 Elements of Educational Care – It is worth noting that the study also identified 13 elements of educational care, 13 distinct categories of teacher actions that contribute to the communication of care. While unpacking the 13 elements is beyond the scope of this blog post, interested readers can explore this in more detail (Schat 2018, 2021).
  5. Assessing Care Communication – the three dimensions and 13 elements of educational care can also serve as important touchstones and criteria for helping teachers to self-assess their care communication.
  6. Implications for the Church – It is also important to consider the potential transferability of this study’s insights to the larger Christian context. The Love Mandate (Matthew 22:37-39) reminds us that we are commanded to love God and love others. Christians are not always successful in communicating love. While our intentions may have been good, our impact has not always been positive. As a result, sometimes Christians can get in the way of people meeting Christ and hearing His message and call. Christians need to ensure that the love they are commanded to communicate is completed—perceived and experienced by others. A colleague and I (Schat and Freytag 2020) have identified and explored two important questions: Has the church failed the love mandate? Is care theory a way to re-articulate and re-embody the love mandate? These questions are helpful for any Christian ministry or organization, including Christian schools, to consider as they look to love God and others in the new year. 

References

  • Schat, S. (2018). Exploring care in education. International Community of Christian Teacher Educators Journal, 13(2-2), Art. 2, pp. 1-11. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/icctej/vol13/iss2/2
  • Schat, S. & Freytag, C. (2020). What can Christians learn from care theory? In P. Shotsberger and C. Freytag (Eds.), How shall we then care?: A Christian educator’s guide to caring for self, learners, colleagues, and community (pp. 1-16). Wipf and Stock.
  • Schat, S. (2020). The successful communication of educational care. In P. Shotsberger and C. Freytag (Eds.), How shall we then care?: A Christian educator’s guide to caring for self, learners, colleagues, and community (pp. 17-34). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock.
  • Schat, S. (2021). Exploring student experiences of teacher care communication: The offering of educational care. Pastoral Care in Education.DOI: 1080/02643944.2021.1999311

About the Author

Sean Schat

 Sean Schat is an assistant professor of education at Redeemer University, located in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada. Prior to his work at Redeemer, Sean spent 18 years as a classroom teacher (middle school and high school) and educational leader (principal, vice-principal, director of staff development). Sean’s dissertation research explored the communication of care in education. Sean’s current research interests include further investigations of educational care, considering interpersonal relationships in education, exploring a Christian philosophy of education, and investigating Christian views of teaching and learning. He can be reached at sschat@redeemer.ca.


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Kindness and the Ministry of Leadership

Brendan Corr 

There is nothing like a good crisis to throw the spotlight on leadership. The feeds of my digital subscriptions have all included a number of articles on “leading in challenging times” or variations on the theme. It is so often in times of pressure and uncertainty when people are most looking for leadership to provide a sense of security as much as sensible strategy—to help them feel safe as much as understand the plan.

As the leader of a relatively small (720 students, on-campus and online) but growing Christian school on the fringe of Sydney’s metro area that has grown during COVID-19, I thought it timely to share a few of my current reflections around leadership. Leadership guru John Maxwell defines leadership as influence—nothing more; nothing less. I understand his point. Anytime someone is contributing to a group or a team so that they are affecting the outcome or the process or the relationships of the team they are bearing influence and are, in that specific instance, leading. Putting it another way, if you are not affecting some change in the environment around you, you cannot be said to be “leading” in any meaningful sense of the term.

This also allows for the reality of someone “leading negatively.” This is not the same as leading poorly. Leading poorly might involve ineffective leadership—the inferior development or exhibition of the skills and capacities required to lead, resulting in having little influence. Rather, leading negatively allows for well-developed leadership skills and capacities being applied to bear great influence, but in a direction or to produce a result that is contrary to that which is desired. I would not be surprised if all of us at some time in our lives, in some context have been eyewitness and had first-hand experience of both.

Kindness Christian School Leadership Ministry

Recently I heard another definition of leadership that has stayed with me, because it carries more of a perspective of good leadership. This presenter defined leadership as assuming responsibility for making sure the right things get done consistently. I like this definition. In referring to the “right things” it assumes a leader knowing deeply and discerningly the value system that can prioritize what needs to be done at any point in a group’s collective unfolding story, and can let go those things that aren’t right for that community or in that context. It’s not just about efficiency—getting the agreed-to things done (the things on the checklist)—it’s about discerning what is the thing that is most needful and getting that done. In noting that leadership assumes the responsibility for ensuring that those things get done consistently, it also implies more than just having a vision—it speaks to having a system of accountability that follows through and follows up.

As I have taken the forced opportunity presented by the current pandemic situation to consider my own leadership—my responses to the pressure, to the anxiety of others, to the pragmatic demands of managing resources and schedules—I have found myself reflecting on the leadership I am providing for my team and for my community. Are my colleagues and I focusing on completing the right tasks? Am I following through and following up in a way that honors both individual people and the shared purpose of our community?

Amidst these reflections I have found stimuli from a number of sources that are weaving together to help me better understand what I believe my leadership should look like, and what good leadership (hopefully my leadership!) might feel like for those being led. Among the things that have helped me reflect on my leadership has been a sermon by Tim Keller that a dear friend shared with me. Tim Keller was not specifically addressing leadership in his sermon—it was part of a series of studies he was giving to his congregation—but as happens when unpacking the Word of God, I could not help but apply the truths of his message to my own situation and my recent reflections on leadership. The essence of the sermon was on the grace of kindness. It made think, and rethink, what might “kind” leadership look like.

Giving of “You”

The first challenge Keller’s sermon on kindness provoked for me was regarding how personal it was. Rightly there is a great deal of leadership advice, written and spoken, that is focused around the essential need in leadership for authenticity and integrity; specifically about a leader’s true character and genuineness being prerequisite for effective influence and for growing people, relationships, and community.

In the book Leadership and Self Deception, the Arbinger Institute explains that people have an inbuilt capacity to discern the authenticity of others in a relationship. They note that no relationship is defined only by the behaviours of the parties involved but is also, in fact is primarily, defined by the “way of being” that each party exhibits in the exchange. The essence of the person—their attitude, their mindset, their heart—is the most determining factor in making the relationship either mutually effective and productive or otherwise. In Daring to Lead, Brené Brown talks about leading “without armour,” meaning leading with openness and genuineness from your inner life.

In his sermon about being kind, Keller notes that kindness requires you to show up “as you,” fully and completely. Kindness, says Keller, is not the same as generosity or even charity. It is not about giving “stuff” like money, gifts, or objects. I know that as a leader I can also be tempted to give “stuff” to my team—time, attention, advice, strategy, a comprehensive handbook that maps the protocols of our group, a clear infographic that captures the new vision or direction. Stuff. Not that there is anything wrong with any of that. It’s just that none of it is enough. If my leadership is to be genuinely filled with the grace of kindness it will be “me” that I give. My leadership won’t be in the things that I do for my team or my community, it will be how I am with them, how I share myself with them. In John 15:15 Jesus tells the disciples that He does not consider them servants but friends, because everything that He learned from the Father, He told them.

Just a few verses prior Jesus makes another bold claim about friendship: greater love has no man than he lay down his life for a friend. Here then is the kindness of friendship—unconditional commitment and absolute transparency. Leadership that is kind will be personal. Underneath all that is done, it will exhibit both the qualities of unconditional commitment and absolute transparency in the way the leader is present with their team.

Being Practical

Keller also notes that the grace of kindness is entirely practical. Drawing from the principle of being kind to one another as explained by Paul in Ephesians 4, he notes that the apostle urges believers not to let any “corrupt” or unwholesome communication pass between them—only that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs. The grace of kindness must be helpful. It isn’t trivial or worthless or pointless. It isn’t just self-expression by the one who gives it, or the natural expression of their kind-heartedness. It must be helpful to others, and helpful in a way that “builds them up.”

Kindness is not about only being positive or only doing what pleases people or saying what they want to hear. Kindness is about helping others grow, even if that means a hard conversation. It is kinder to have that tough talk and help your team members grow in their understanding and capacity than to keep comfortably quiet and they retain whatever quality or habit is limiting their life or their contribution.

This is not to say that kind-hearted leaders can’t spontaneously arrange for something nice for members of their team. That is often a wonderful thing to do. Have the spontaneous celebration, make a habit of community “shout-outs” for good work, give the unexpected extra preparation time. But again, these are not enough. It is more about noticing what people need to grow and meeting that need so they can grow. And knowing their real needs—the things that will really allow them to grow or that are really getting in the way—will require that you really know them as they are. This is a measure of how personal you have been in your leadership. Leadership filled with the grace of kindness will be intent on making a practical difference for the people around them—providing what things are needed and removing what things are obstacles for the personal growth of your team.

Growing Christlikeness

Finally, leadership with the grace of kindness will have prophetic awareness and intent. The passage in Ephesians 4 suggests that kind behavior anticipates the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit until the “day of redemption.” This is the vision that will occupy leadership that is truly kind: looking for the growing in grace and in gifting of the people you are called to be with—more than growing their capacity to contribute to the team; more than growing their skillset or competence or professional practice; more than empowering them to help achieve the community vision or mission. It involves an awareness of them growing more and more into the likeness of Christ and of maturing their faith.

I was taught by a very wise and godly leader who influenced my own life and leadership early on that to lead a growing Christian school I would need to help grow Christian teachers, and that to help grow Christian teachers I would need to grow them as Christians as well as teachers. Leadership that manifests the grace of kindness will hold a clear vision of the spiritual end point for all the members of the community, and will hold that as the measure of what is the right thing that needs to be done at any given moment.

Leading for Today

During these days of constant change thrust upon us by COVID-19, it is also important to lead oneself with kindness. I am not talking here about the secular notion of “self-care” but rather acknowledging that you are unable to disciple and help others unless you yourself are in a healthy state of mind. You can’t pull someone else out of a hole if you’re also in the hole. Take care to keep in step with the Spirit by maintaining the spiritual disciplines of reading God’s Word and prayer. These disciplines are particularly important given that physical gatherings, and the fellowship that goes with them, are extremely limited during the pandemic.

By relying on the Holy Spirit to lead me well, I can fulfill my desire to lead with the grace of kindness. I want to lead “kindly”: to lead with my authentic personhood being present in radical transparency and unconditional consistency; to lead by providing practical help to the specific needs of the people I walk with; and to lead with a prophetic vision for who they are becoming and what our local part of the Body of Christ is called to be.

About the Author

Brendan Corr

Brendan Corr is the principal of Australian Christian College – Marsden Park in Sydney, Australia. Originally a secondary science teacher, Brendan is a graduate of University Technology Sydney, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While deputy principal at Pacific Hills Christian College for 12 years, Brendan also led the New South Wales Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have four adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterward slightly more). He can be reached via email at brendancorr@acc.edu.au.

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Newsletter 4 of 2021

(Kevin Ricquebourg)

IN THIS ISSUE
Christian Education Snippets
From the Chair……
Strategy Planning Day
Feedback : Online Christian Educators’ Conference
PSI Launch
Prayer Pointers
info@acsi.co.zw
+263 786 031 794
https://acsi.co.zw

Dear Colleagues,
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Matthew 14: 13-36. It deals with a 36 hour period during which Jesus puts his disciples through their paces, showing them what they could expect from life if they really decided to follow him. As you read this consider the emotional rollercoaster that the disciples are on:

  • John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin had just been brutally murdered by Herod.
  • Jesus had had no time to grieve but healed the sick from a huge crowd numbering approximately 10,000, including women and children.
  • As it was getting dark the disciples, exhausted by now, reminded Jesus that the crowd had not eaten and that they should be sent away!
  • They could hardly believe their ears when Jesus told them to feed the crowd! (On 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes)

Jesus sensing the discomfiture of his disciples told them to bring the food to him. NOTE CAREFULLY WHAT HAPPENS!

  • Jesus organized the crowd to sit down, gave thanks for the 5 loaves and 2 fishes and gave them (the 5 loaves and 2 fishes) back to the disciples to distribute to the people. Perhaps they broke the loaves in half and 10 disciples took the bread while 2 disciples took the fishes. The point is that Jesus gave back to them what they had given to Him! They could easily have said to themselves, “So what has changed?!” We gave Him the boy’s breakfast and He has given it back to us… Wait a minute – this stuff is multiplying in my hands! As I break off a piece, so another piece grows back! It is truly amazing what is going on here! Jesus waited until we obeyed him before He started to multiply the food.”
  • The disciples, probably euphoric because of what they were witnessing, handed out the food to the 10,000 hungry people! (Oh I nearly forgot to mention, afterwards they picked up 12 baskets of scraps!) Next time God asks you to do something and you feel inadequate, what are you going to do? Obey him! The results are His responsibility not yours!
  • Jesus then made the disciples get into a boat in order to row to the other side of the lake (11 km away!).

TAKE NOTE…

  • Some of them were experienced sailor some were not!
  • Jesus let them row together, in the dark, for nine hours, against the wind and waves, without Him being in the boat with them – a recipe for some serious character formation!
  • They thought they saw a ghost – some folk are frightened of the paranormal! It was Jesus coming to rescue them, walking on the water! Peter wanted to walk on the water too! “Come,” Jesus said. Peter started well – he jumped over the side of the boat and started walking towards Jesus. Then he did what we so frequently do – he noticed the waves and instead of keeping his eyes fixed on Jesus, he focused on the storm and this caused his faith to dissipate and he started to sink! The Creator of the Universe and Lord of all the storms calmed the storm and reached out His hand and saved him!
  • “Then those who were in the boat worshipped him saying, “Truly you are the son of God.”
  • May we be encouraged to offer Jesus whatever we have and allow Him to use it to meet the needs of those around us whom He asks us to ‘feed’ and may we remember when we are in the middle of the howling storm and huge waves threaten to overwhelm us, that He is the Lord of the storms and has absolute authority over them.

From the Chair…………..
“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds”. (Psalm 73:28)

The Psalmist starts off this Psalm with a confident word of knowing God’s goodness in his heart, but then he starts to look around and wonders where is the presence of God? This causes the psalmist to feel depressed, even oppressed (vs16) until he enters the sanctuary and sees the final destiny of those he had seen as people with seemingly less troubles. I think this is a feeling we can all relate to at times, where we feel overwhelmed or tired of seemingly endless struggles. But as the psalmist works through his feelings and enters the sanctuary of God, he is reminded of God’s presence, His blessings, and our future inheritance.

We hope that you were able to join our recent on-line Educators’ Conference and from it were refreshed and encouraged in your calling and excited to continue a lifetime of learning for God’s glory. Our prayer has been that it helped you enter the presence of God and be reminded of the eternal impact of your relationships and teaching. We pray that like the Psalmist you can declare all of God’s deeds as you are drawn closer to Him. As we begin to look ahead to 2022, we are excited at the new opportunities and praying for God’s favor and growth in our membership and areas of influence. We long to be more accessible to anyone interested across Zimbabwe, whether in government or private education. We are also looking at how to be an increasingly clear voice in education, declaring God’s standards from a Biblical worldview. We believe this to be key to true holistic education and transformational for our country. In line with ACSI global, we will be focusing on the 3 pillars of advancement, access, and advocacy. A key part of our advancement is that we long to strengthen partnerships with churches and other interested Christian organizations or individuals. We are also looking at new trainings and continuing to promote PSI, the Paths to School Improvement programme. For access, we continue to work on our data base, strengthen our social media platforms and presence, and also seek ways to subsidise membership fees for struggling schools. Our role in advocacy for now is building relationships and seeking to be a voice for integrating a Biblical worldview in education both to encourage individual teachers as well as institutions.

At our recent strategy planning day, we, as the board were challenged to have God’s vision for education across Zimbabwe and that was very scary/daunting and overwhelming, but also exciting and demanding of faith and only achievable by God’s grace, strength and favor. And so we are continuing to step out in faith, trembling at the knees, weak in our own abilities, but our hearts are excited for all that God is doing and is going to do in and through ACSI Zimbabwe, and in each individual’s life as they seek to glorify God. Thank you for partnering with us in this vision. May we together be faithful in telling of all God’s deeds.

Partnering in faith, trusting our Big God, for His Glory.

Sarah Cross (Chair)

CURRENT MEMBER SCHOOLS
Celebration International School
Eaglesvale Junior School
Eaglesvale Senior School
Gateway High School
Gateway Primary School
Karanda Mission Primary School
Lendy Park School
Maranatha Group of Schools
Midlands Christian School
Midlands Christian College
Millennial Academy
Mutarazi Junior School
Rainbow Pre-School
Southern Lights Trust
Success Tutorial College

STRATEGY PLANNING DAY

On Friday 24th September the ACSI Zimbabwe Advisory Board met together in Harare at the Christian Counselling Centre to strategize for
growth in 2022/23. The day’s proceedings began with a zoom link with the Director of ACSI South Africa, Mr Sean Moore, who encouraged the
members with a devotion on the deep-rooted joy that it is possible for believers to have regardless of their circumstances. Team Consulting facilitated the day’s discussion at no cost. After a time of quiet and waiting on the Lord, members re- grouped and formulated a broad implementation plan which will now be worked on by the four sub- committees: Marketing / Training / Partnerships and Finance for discussion at the next Board Meeting on 9th November. Thanks to Florac Catering for providing teas and a delicious lunch.

ACSI ZIMBABWE ADVISORY BOARD 2021

Back Row (Left to Right) : Eric Zinyengere, Kevin Ricquebourg, Lenard Mudiwa, Gus Hulley, Unity Sakhe
Front Row (Left to Right) : Sarah Cross (Chair), George Faneti, Tunga Mashungu, Tavonga Goto, Melanie Martin, Caroline Chirume, Temba Mkhosana, Charmian Deysel

FEEDBACK ON-LINE CONFERENCE
“A LIFETIME OF LEARNINGTO LIVE FOR GOD’S GLORY”

Over four weeks, between 13th August and 3rd September, the 2021 online Christian Educators’ Conference was released via a moodle platform. Under the theme of “A Lifetime of Learning to Live for God’s Glory” (“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples -John 15:8″) four weekly sessions of a plenary and four workshops were made available.

The programme included:

  • 4 local devotional speakers
  • 4 worship sessions led by two member schools and two churches
  • 2 interviews
  • 5 plenary speakers (3 local, one from Australia, one from South Africa)
  • 3 feedback sessions (1 local, 1 regional, 1 international)
  • 16 workshop speakers (11 local, 4 South African, 1 American)

This was the first time we have used a moodle platform and we recognise that many of the 600 delegates who registered had challenges with network and bandwidth. All the recordings are downloadable and can be saved to a device to be viewed at your convenience. The conference material is still available and can be accessed for an indefinite period by registering at https://online.acsi.co.zw/acsi/login/?lang=en once you have registered you will receive an email from System Administrator advising your username and password. Please note this email does not come through immediately as users have to be uploaded from the registration form first. We would still encourage you to take advantage of this excellent, informative material addressing many different aspects of teaching from a Biblical worldview. If you require assistance or would like the conference presentations copied on a (supplied) flashstick, please do not hesitate to contact the office – info@acsi.co.zw or call +263 786 031 794

The ACSI Paths to School Improvement (PSI) is a strategy to accomplish resourcing as many schools as possible through a school improvement process
For more information: email info@acsi.co.zw or
Tel: +263 786 031 794

  • Involves a two-year commitment to training, undertaken during school holidays by Heads, and then actioned throughout the term. There is a cost involved. The process of improvement continues as a lifelong commitment by the school.
  • The advantage of this programme is that you walk the continual process in partnership/relationship with other schools, building a community committed to\ improving Christian Education through Zimbabwe and Africa.

PSI LAUNCH: 22ND OCTOBER 2021

On Friday 22nd October, ACSI Zimbabwe hosted a launch which was attended by six schools who are considering commencing training with Cohort 3 in April 2022. If you would like to know more about this programme, please do contact us as above.


Above: Kevin Ricquebourg opening in devotion


Above: School Leader – Tonderai Mandaza


Above: Candidate Trainee Maggie Gotora


Above: Sarah Cross (ACSI Zim Chair)


Above: Candidate Trainee – Caroline Chirume


Above: Candidate Trainee Hannah Marks

MEMBERSHIP DETAILS

If you would like to enquire about membership of ACSI Zimbabwe please contact the office for details : info@acsi.co.zw or acsizimbabwe@gmail.com or call +263 786 031 794 https://acsi.co.zw

Membership Categories are as follows:
1) INDIVIDUAL: ($10 per term)
2) SCHOOL: (0.50c per pupil per term)
3) ASSOCIATE: $50 per term (for churches / business organisations)

PRAYER POINTERS

  • Re-commencement of PSI (Paths to School Improvement) training in April 2022;
  • Schools who are currently part of PSI as they implement what they are learning;
  • Implementation of PSI App (Local Host Partner);
  • ACSI Zimbabwe Advisory Board as they strategise for growth in 2022 – 23;
  • Sean Moore as Director of ACSI Southern Africa and his leadership and mentoring role of schools in SA during these challenging times;
  • ACSI Zimbabwe Members Schools: – those who are facing financial and other challenges;
  • State schooling system;
  • Protection for our communities, schools and families from Covid 19.

If you have something to share, specific prayer requests or response to any article, please contact us : info@acsi.co.zw acsizimbabwe@gmail.com If you would like to receive latest news from ACSI Southern Africa please notify by email to info@acsi.co.zw
acsizimbabwe@gmail.com https://acsi.co.zw.

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Christian Education Snippets

 

 BLIND BARTIMAEUS RECEIVES HIS SIGHT 

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. 

This is a lovely story and there are many things we can learn from it! 

Jesus has just spent some time in Jericho and is on His way to Jerusalem where He will suffer and die. He is followed by a large crowd many of whom are attracted by the miracles which He performs from time to time. This of course begs the question, “Where do I stand in my relation to Christ?” Am I attracted to Him for what I can get from Him or because He answers my deepest questions, such as, “Who am I, where am I going and do I matter in the grand scheme of things?” There’s nothing wrong in being inquisitive provided that is not an end in itself. In other words do we end up manufacturing itches which need to be scratched! Remember, the fence is not neutral and fence-sitters will not be saved on Judgement Day! 

Bartimaeus definitely did not fall into the latter category! In fact his was the only voice that could be heard shouting out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” It is very clear from this that Bartimaeus meant to do business with Jesus that day. Not only did he call Him by his Messianic title, but he showed a total disregard for those sections of the crowd that were telling him to be quiet! In fact it spurred him on to shout even louder!

Bartimaeus was a beggar and had learnt to be grateful for anything which he received from life. Suffering has a way of reducing life to its lowest common denominator which simply put is NEED! Need for pain-relief, friends, medication, the love of family, basically the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The danger of living at this level for too long is that we start to believe that there is nothing more to life. We are like that ignorant child described by CS Lewis, “…who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.“ 

There was an immediate cost/sacrifice in coming to Jesus. Bartimaeus threw his cloak away. We are not told the reason for this but in some way it proved a hindrance to Bartimaeus and he had to get rid of it. We may have some things that are holding us back from a single-minded devotion to Christ. We need to do away with them! 

Having reached the place where Jesus was standing the first words spoken by Christ to blind Bartimaeus seem almost unbelievable! 

“What do you want me to do for you?” 

Not many people in Scripture are presented with a blank cheque like this man was. I wonder how you would have answered? Bartimaeus replied, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 

The apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians tells them that in his prayers he keeps asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that they may, “know him (Jesus) better.” (Brackets mine) In His High Priestly Prayer in John 17 Jesus says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” I believe that beneath his desire for physical healing of his sight Bartimaeus wanted to see with the eyes of his heart! He wanted to see Jesus for whom He really was – The great I AM! And in typical fashion Jesus gave him both! He could see with both his eyes and his heart! 

Jesus still comes to us and asks us, “What can I do for you?” How will you answer Him today? 

Kevin Ricquebourg 

ACSI CO-ORDINATOR

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Becoming More Christian in Christian Schools

Shaun Brooker | June 28, 2021

Christian education can be an incredibly transformative force. It can take a life in its infancy—as the life is establishing its understanding, expectation, and perspective of the world—and bring hope, in a world that is increasingly seeming hopeless. It can help a young person understand that success is not about who dies with the most toys, rather it is about how many others one person can help—not just here on earth, but for eternity. It can help a young person understand that they are not the center of the universe; rather, fulfillment comes when we learn to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and learn to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Spiritual Practice Christian Schools

While there is much to celebrate about how Christian schools develop Christian thinking in our students, we also need to be aware that Christian schools can contribute to students’ developing bad Christian habits—or practices and mindsets that are less like the ones Jesus taught, and more like the religious behaviors the Pharisees would be proud of.

For example, many Christian educators likely have a shared vision for spiritual formation when it comes to prayer (as an ongoing conversation with their Creator), learning Scripture (as students’ “hiding His Word” in their hearts so they might not sin against God), and loving one’s neighbor (having “next level” empathy and being outward looking, to not only “love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and strength” but to also authentically “love their neighbor as themselves”). But without intentionality, these visions that we have for our students in Christian education can become religious activities—things that students do because they “have to” do them, versus because they truly desire to do them.

Examining Our Schools—and Ourselves

We are encouraged in Scripture to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). Take a moment to consider the following spiritual formation practices that will be visible in most Christian schools. In your school, does what you “do” really lead to the objectives that you intend?

Scripture Memorization: Does Scripture memorization look more like students hiding God’s Word in their hearts, or is it just another homework assignment—where students memorize 40 random verses throughout the year, are tested on the verses each Friday, and the verses have no “life” at all in the classroom? If the latter, then Scripture memorization becomes a compliance activity. Instead, verses should not just be given as homework, but also serve as a living part of the classroom for the week—and intentionally revisited over the year so that the verses become “sticky.”

Biblical Literacy: The key objectives of a Bible program should be the development of a lifelong love of the scriptures and conviction that the Bible is authentic and relevant to our students’ lives. But if Bible classes center on learning tools of interpretation, with the preferred delivery being preaching or an exegesis of the scriptures—and worst of all, a place where the students’ questions are pushed aside to make sure the teacher gets through a preset curriculum—we will end up turning students off to God’s Word. Yes, students need the tools to understand and unpack the scriptures, but these tools are only relevant if the students want to engage with His Word after they leave school.

Prayer: I don’t know of a teacher in a Christian school who does not want their students to learn that prayer is an integral part of everyday life. Prayer is full of power, promise, and potential. It is a direct line that we have with our Creator and there is not a prayer too big or too small that is not important to Him. But how is prayer modeled in our schools? Do we just pray at the beginning of the day, before lunch, and at the end of the day? If so, students are persuaded that prayer is something that happens certain times of the day, usually following a specific pattern, rather than a direct line of communication that Scripture tells us to utilize constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We need to model the prayer life that we want students to develop.

Worship Through Song: Most Christian schools include worship through song in their assembly of meeting times. There is something incredibly powerful about being in a room full of young people truly worshipping our Savior. However, done poorly, it is worrisome. You can see in it the way students slouch or the way the song lyrics go in their eyes and out their mouths without touching anything on the way through. In every Christian school, there are young Christians and usually even non-Christians who are on a journey. Again, modeling by teachers, leaders, and staff is key to helping them on that journey. When the powerful words that are in most Christian songs are sung (think meditated on) with reverence, it sends a message about the importance of that message to everyone.

Relationships: Teacher and student relationships in Christian schools absolutely must be different than at the school down the road. Grounded in our call for transforming young people, at the heart of Christian education is a Christ-centered educator who desires that students will be equipped for their future. The educational and discipleship process is built on strong relationship and must be defined by one word: love. Though it is a high calling, there is no room in Christian education for teachers who do not have a genuine love for each student in their care.

Discipleship (and Discipline): Flowing out of the importance of discipling relationships between teachers and students, Christian schools should be places of discipleship, not punishment. Yes, there is a need for consequences, but at the heart of the discipline process should be an absolute commitment to each student’s growth. At the heart of the discipline process is a balance of acting justly and loving mercy, which with God’s help will lead to the student walking humbly with our God. This is difficult, as obviously we cannot promote lawlessness in our Christian schools; however, each school and educator must maintain a balance of law and grace. Consider “backward design” related to this issue; ask yourself, what would it take for a graduate of your Christian school to comment, “I was shown what grace was at my school”? As educators, we certainly know how to teach about grace—but in keeping with the emphasis of this essay, what’s important is not just what we tell our students, but rather what we do.

Asking the Central Question

There are many aspects of our Christian schools which are intended for good. However, if unexamined, and if done without intentionality, these aspects can actually have the opposite effect—they can turn our students away from Christ. The overriding question to prevent this is straightforward: Is the way your students experience the “Christian things” you do aligned with the purpose for which you do them? And in answering this question, we need to consider what students learn about the principles of Scripture through our actions, not just our words.

Ultimately, we pray that as students graduate from our schools, they will know without a doubt that each of the above spiritual practices are important to the Christian walk. And, that they did not just learn about their importance through our teaching, but rather that they experienced it through intentional opportunities for spiritual formation and through modeling by their teachers. It’s not an easy calling, but it is a hugely satisfying one.

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ACSI Announces New Board Chair

Jul 26, 2021, 09:25 AM by Caitlyn Berman

Colorado Springs, Colo. – The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) is pleased to announce Dr. Jay Ferguson as the new board chair. Ferguson will assume the position July 26, 2021, and will serve a two-year term.

In his role, Ferguson will ensure the organization is effective in implementing its new strategic plan, using the Three Strategic Pillars of Advancing, Access and Advocacy to guide all decisions.

Ferguson is head of school at Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas, where he has served for nearly 20 years—six of those years spent serving on the ACSI Board. He shared that his favorite aspects of serving on the board include the opportunity to be a change agent for the organization and the opportunity to build relationships with other Christian school leaders.

“As a current head of school, I know the importance of an organization coming alongside and helping Christian schools and their leaders develop and flourish,” Ferguson said. “ACSI is critically important to the growth of Christian education around the world.”

Former ACSI Board Chair Robert “Bo” Gutzwiller has served for two years. He believes Ferguson possesses the ideal skillset and experience for the position.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as ACSI Board Chair and have no doubt that Dr. Ferguson will bring a high level of discernment and expertise to the role,” he said. “I’m thrilled to see ACSI continue in a very strategic direction.”

Ferguson recognizes the magnitude of the Christian education movement internationally.

“As one of the largest global Christian school organizations, ACSI has the potential to impact millions of children and thousands of schools for God’s Kingdom,” he said. “I look forward to working with the leadership team to ensure a viable and healthy ACSI— one that thrives in achieving its mission.”

ACSI President Dr. Larry Taylor expressed his gratitude to Gutzwiller for his years of dedicated service.

“God is doing an amazing work,” he shared. “I have been honored to serve alongside Bo Gutzwiller for two years and am grateful for his commitment to Christian education. I believe he is passing this baton of leadership to the very capable hands of Dr. Jay Ferguson.”

Ferguson has served at Grace Community School in a variety of capacities including development director and head of school. He holds a doctorate of Philosophy in Leadership Studies from Dallas Baptist University, and practiced as a lawyer before his time at Grace.

Passionate about Christian education, Ferguson looks forward to assuming his new responsibilities.

“What I love most about ACSI is not just what it’s doing domestically but what it’s doing internationally,” he expressed. “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve this outstanding organization, and I’m excited about the direction it’s heading.”

To learn more about ACSI, please visit the website at ACSI.org or connect with the ACSI Care Team by calling (800)367-0798 or at careteam@acsi.org.

To learn more about Dr. Jay Ferguson, visit Grace Community School’s website.

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How to Effectively Lead a Multi-Generational Staff

Tania Lennon of the Hay Group, an international corporate leadership development consulting company, published an excellent study on the multigenerational workforce. Her team studied over 2,500 executives around the world spanning five generations: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. Members from each group were asked about what they valued in the workplace. As it turns out, there were quite a few differences in answers between the generations:

  • Traditionalists (born between 1928-1944): “Value authority and a top-down management approach; hard working; ‘be heroic.’”
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1945-1964): “Expect some degree of deference to their opinions; workaholics; ‘be anything you want to be’; ‘eternal youth—retirement as freedom.’”
  • Generation X (born between 1965-1979): “Comfortable with authority; want to be listened to; will work as hard as needed; ‘don’t count on it’; ‘take care of yourself’; importance of work life balance.”
  • Generation Y (born between 1980-1994): “Respect must be earned. ‘You are special’; ‘achieve now’; technologically savvy; goal and achievement oriented.”
  • Generation Z (born from 1995 and on): “Many traits still to emerge. Digital natives, fast decision makers, highly connected.”

So what does this corporate study have to do with educational institutions? A lot. In John Ortberg’s 2009 Christianity Today article, he retells the 2 Chronicles 10 story of Rehoboam taking over his father’s flock and says, “…it is striking that even in the Bible, one of the ways that human community becomes disrupted is the generational divide. If the generational divide was a gap then, it is a canyon now.”

The generational canyon Ortberg refers to in 2009 is now the Grand Canyon of staffing issues in 2020. Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation, leaving Generation X in the valley of the canyon as the smallest generation in the workforce, according to Pew Research.

In a Vanderbloemen Academy lesson on this subject, William Vanderbloemen discusses what he calls the “double-humped camel” problem in our current workforce, often causing friction on leadership teams. He describes this reality: there are more Baby Boomers and Millennials in the workforce than Gen X, which is why developing multigenerational leadership skills is becoming increasingly vital to leaders. Those who can hone their multigenerational leadership skills will be best equipped to serve their teams by fostering personal leadership growth, clearly identifying a vision that everyone can follow, and executing a mission in a way that has everyone on board.

In our work with Christian organizations around the world, we continually hear two primary challenges that leaders face when it comes to staffing: one, help us find high-capacity staff members from the different generations we need represented in our organization; and two, help us foster unity on our team across generations and develop them as leaders who can serve together.

The familiar tone we hear from Baby Boomer leaders sounds like this, “I’m so frustrated with the Millennials on our team. They’re lazy and unmotivated.” And what do we typically hear from Millennial leaders? “I’m so frustrated with the Baby Boomers on our team. They’re resistant to change and out of touch with how the world is changing.”

Reviewing the aforementioned Hay Group report, however, we see that our different generations might be more similar than we realize, particularly when it comes to expectations in the workplace. The report found that five themes emerge as being most important to people on staff in an organization, regardless of their age:

  1. Focus on customers and external stakeholders
  2. Focus on execution
  3. Teamwork
  4. Decision-making
  5. Planning and organizing

Lennon writes, “These priorities reflect the challenges of managing in today’s matrixed and network organizations. A deft blend of drive, working with others, and external focus is seen to be key to leadership success.” So the challenge for us as Christian leaders is this: let’s reflect on our own adaptability and on ourselves as leaders before we blame one generation or another for the silos we see in our organizations and on our teams.

Looking for a starting point? Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I lead my individual team members with a one-size-fits-all mentality, or do I differentiate based on the individual?  

Lennon says, “Leaders don’t need to develop generation-specific skills. They should be able to adapt leadership styles to suit the individual.” We love this point because it invites the leader into self-reflection and the consideration of their own responsibility in developing their team members, regardless of the team member’s age. This question applies to both leaders who are leading people older than themselves, as well as younger than themselves. Both pose unique challenges. The reality is that leadership development is not formulaic. Dynamic leadership development should be customized to the individual team member you are leading in each moment.

2. Do I foster opportunities for cross-team and intergenerational collaboration? 

Collaboration is key to creating a contagious staff culture. Silos and cliques cause distrust and tension among teams. Be intentional about creating opportunities for your team to work together, especially if you have teams that have more of one generation represented than another.

Compared to many other types of organizations, your school is uniquely primed for this type of environment. Multiple generations interacting is woven into your very fabric. Do not take this for granted though. Be intentional with how you design interactions. It is one thing to have a multigenerationalschool—but being deliberate with an inter-generational school will create opportunities for everyone to learn and flourish together. Psalm 71:18 speaks of “declaring God’s power to the next generation, God’s mighty acts to all who are to come.” As you consider the development of leaders in your school, there is a responsibility for experienced leaders to invest in your newer leaders—and a richness of rewards when the wisdom of elders is headed.

We also recommend planning multigenerational events outside of work. Plan a staff dinner or game night where your team can get to know each other. You’ll see the productivity on your team skyrocket when they genuinely like each other.

3. Do I have a plan for the future?

Workforce demographics are changing. The number of full-time working Baby Boomers is decreasing, and will sharply decline over the course of the next decade. Your school probably has a significant population of faculty and staff who are beginning to consider retirement. Are you prepared for this?

We recently worked with an institution in this very situation. Writing a new strategic plan coincided with the institution’s accreditation renewal process. They decided to use these two processes to have very deliberate conversations about what tenured faculty might look like in 10 years. They asked questions like: “What is our plan for replacing high-capacity, qualified faculty members in key roles?” “How do we ensure that we will not lose critical institutional memory when certain key figures retire?” and “What will the benefits and drawbacks be if we lean more toward adjunct faculty rather than full-time replacements?” Not all of these questions had immediate answers, but there is great wisdom in performing this exercise.

You may be able to use a similar approach if you are in the midst of strategic planning or in a cycle of institutional review. Or just set aside agenda time to start asking some key questions. Either way, you need to start the conversation.

Moving Ahead

These are just three questions to get you started in reflecting on your self-awareness as a multigenerational leader. Your school likely has a healthy representation across three different generations—it is one of the things that makes academic institutions unique and dynamic. Your intentionality as a multigenerational leader will only continue to increase in importance as you develop your teams.

NOTE: This article was originally posted in February 2020 and republished in June 2021 to keep this important topic top of mind.