It’s becoming more and more common to hear “we need to change our business model” when discussing theological education. What, exactly, does that mean?
One of the earliest references introducing the “business model canvas” to theological education was Robert Landrebe’s article “To create the future, selectively abandon the past” from a 2014 issue of In Trust Magazine (it’s worth reading and you can access by clicking here).
I introduced the idea of using a “business model canvas” for exploring the various components of Winebrenner Theological Seminary in last week’s post (click here to read). Please note, this is just one tool for clarifying mission and thinking through how our business model is changing. As part of last week’s post I identified the centrality of students, partners, and donors in response to the question “for whom are we creating value?” Once we’ve identified the “who?” we need to next move to the “what?” and “how?”
For sake of clarity and to illustrate this stage, we’ll focus on students. What value do we create for students? How do we create that value? The answers to these questions assist in identifying the “value proposition” found within our business model canvas. This may still seem a bit abstract, so let’s rephrase and consider the clearer question, What problem exists in the lives of Winebrenner students that Winebrenner solves? This may present a different way of thinking about our task of discipleship within theological education. However, without any further clarification, I asked that question at a recent weekly check-in meeting with our executive team. Here are the immediate problems they identified in the lives of Winebrenner students that we help solve:
- Lack of ministry knowledge
- Uncertainty and lack of clarity surrounding calling
- Lack of prerequisites for what students want to do professionally
- Lack of a degree
- Need for deeper spiritual formation
Even though this is not an exhaustive list it begins to create some borders around what value we add to the lives of our students. Turn each of these problems into a positive statement. Winebrenner Seminary:
- contributes to ministry knowledge
- assists in clarifying a student’s calling
- provides training and equipping for various professional fields
- provides a pathway to a degree
- enhances a student’s personal formation.
Through the delivery of intentional, intensive, and structured learning environments we add value to the lives of our students. Next week we’ll continue our exploration by looking at the specific “Channels” that are used to deliver the value proposition to those who benefit most (students / partners / donors).
– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President
– Image from Pexels, accessed on Adobe Spark