On the Path Toward Financial Sustainability

It has been said that our present moment is simply a combination of the decisions and choices we have made in the past and, in many ways, that is true for Winebrenner Seminary. Over the past six years we have made multiple decisions – some major and many small – but there are three that stand out as I reflect upon our ongoing path to prioritize biblical stewardship.

First, Winebrenner made an intentional commitment to a “revenue first” approach to budgeting many years ago. Very simply, this is an intentional effort to identify anticipated revenue from all sources and bring expenses into alignment (as opposed to first identifying expenses and then trying to raise revenue to match). You can read more about this process in the following posts:

Surprised, Not Unprepared: Lowering Operational Expenses

God’s Kingdom, Our Winebrenner:  A Path Toward Financial Sustainability

Second, Winebrenner has made an intentional effort to “manage employee headcount.” Unfortunately, there are too many schools and seminaries who are over-staffed. You can read more about how this fits into our overall context in the following post:

To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Cost Structures (this post led to an invitation to write an article for the magazine of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools, which you can access by clicking here).

Finally, Winebrenner Theological Seminary is committed to aligning institutional resources with our mission of equipping leaders for service in God’s kingdom.  In an effort to intentionally monitor employee headcount, Winebrenner conducted an “Organizational Workload Study” beginning in October 2016, which resulted in a major restructuring in early 2017.  As stated at that time, the goal is to create a repeatable process confirming that Winebrenner has the best employees working in the best positions and who are situated in the best reporting structure.

In the spirit of “integrative innovation” it is acknowledged that any micro change should be situated within a larger understanding of institutional needs in terms of personnel and structure.  The following represents an updated and revised process to ensure full participation of the Executive Team:

  • Step One:  What institutional functions are necessary to accomplish our mission and institutional goals?
    • This is currently being accomplished by reviewing Job Descriptions for each role.
  • Step Two:  Begin with a budget of $0, create a financial structure that can best accomplish these tasks and functions. 
    • This task is the responsibility of the Director of Finance in consultation with the President
  • Step Three:  Who is the best person in our organization to complete the tasks identified in step one?
    • This will lead to the finalization of job descriptions and identify who fills roles.
  • Step Four: Are current resources sufficient to accomplish our mission and goals?
    • Consider present staffing needs at 100% current enrollment.
  • Step Five: Are resources sufficient to accomplish our mission and goals in a diversity of scenarios?
    • Consider the potential future staffing needs at 125% current enrollment. 
      • What additional staffing may be needed?
    • Consider the potential future staffing needs at 75% current enrollment.
      • What additional reductions would be necessary?
  • Step Six: Review the preliminary budget and finalize.

Each of these three steps are representative of the commitments that the Executive Team has made to ensure that we continue on the path toward financial sustainability.

– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President