Our language reveals much about how we think about lives and ministries. For example, over the past few months I have been retraining myself to use the term “organization” as opposed to “institution” to describe Winebrenner Seminary. Organization shares a root with words like organism and organic–words that evoke images of dynamic change and development. Organizations are constantly re-organizing to accomplish a mission while institutions are often viewed as more permanent and stagnant (because they are, at times, more permanent and stagnant).
Another word that has emerged in a variety of my reading lately is agility. A very simple definition of “agile” is the ability to move quickly and easily. Historically, Winebrenner has not been very agile. This isn’t just about navigating a season of COVID-19, although it’s especially true now. Faith-based mission-driven organizations need agility and a flexible organizational structure to build sustainability for 2020 and beyond. (In some cases, missions may even be fulfilled and organizations cease to exist. At times, there can be an inherent tension between survival and mission fulfillment. However, in God’s economy, survival is not the highest priority.)
Here are a few areas in which Winebrenner is re-organizing for mission:
- We’ve worked hard to lower fixed costs in terms of building space and personnel. This has been both responsive to financial needs as well as an intentional effort to give us more flexibility moving forward.
- We recently announced a recurrent payment plan of $300/month, illustrating some of the flexibility provided by the lowering of fixed costs.
- We are working to develop a robust curriculum that is more fully integrated with the rhythm of life and ministry. By developing a flexible curriculum that incorporates local mentors, we re-organize to engage local church contexts in the completion of educational units.
We need to see re-organizing as a natural by-product of working within a living, dynamic organization and not as a threat to stability and continuity. Our facilities, personnel structure, and curriculum may continually evolve. What doesn’t change is the biblical story or the way we describe it (“equipping leaders for service in God’s kingdom”).
Next week we’ll explore how our 2018-2023 Strategic Plan builds upon and expands this core mission.
– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President
– Image by photographer Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash/AdobeSpark