New is Nice

New is Nice

August 13, 2009

I get asked quite often what it is like to move into a new campus. My standard answer has been, "New is nice." I heard that comment from a peer who relocated his seminary's campus a few years ago, and it stuck.

No traffic paths on old carpet, no finger marks on paint or around light switches, no leaking when heavy rain falls, no signs that lament natural years of use and abuse by the ebb and flow of students and faculty and events that come year after year. But time will change even this new building. Wait and see! It happens.

Change is inevitable. We have made a lot of radical changes as an institution over the last eight years ? a name change, a sale of property, the building of a new campus, downsizing personnel, strengthening our regional presence while expanding our reach through technology, to name a few.

But I believe we have only witnessed the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In fact, as a leader I am planning for more change and believe our future depends on our ability to fulfill our mission with creative innovation on many levels. Gary Hamel, a respected professor in management, has written a book on The Future of Management where he argues that our management practices need to make the same kind of revolutionary changes we are seeing in other areas of our world, such as technology. If we do not innovate our systems now, we will cease to exist. The S-curve of business has been replaced with a spike. Seminaries will be passed over as irrelevant and our mission subverted if we do not adapt and innovate to meet the future. And that future is now.

What will that mean for what we do as a school equipping people for ministry? I have ideas and dreams, but ultimately I do not believe I have the final picture. I think as a leader I need to provide an environment that will make change a real possibility. Every person in the ministry of the seminary should have the freedom to innovate. More authority needs to be spread among all those desiring to make a difference in our niche.

At our fall workshop the whole staff will begin the process of re-thinking every area of our vision. I told the cabinet that everything we do needs to be questioned this year. We need to ask why we do the things we do, whether it be prayer on Monday mornings or chapels or faculty business meetings or curriculum. In a year when we have taken such a big move, I guess I think now is the time to keep pressing as we start into the future.

Yes, new is nice. I think we will find out how nice as we venture forward.