A global pandemic, racial tension, political upheaval, economic devastation, culture clashes, severe weather—over the past year we have lived through these and other challenges, individually and corporately, in the Christian education community worldwide. Yet at the same time, we have witnessed the nimble responses of Christian schools, the care our school communities have provided for the sick and hurting, and the immense opportunity to be salt and light which God has placed before us. It feels as if we have been dwelling—moment by moment—in Jesus’s promise in John 16:33 (NIV): “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus’s words, “take heart,” literally mean “take courage” (from the Greek tharseite, also used in Matthew 14:27 and Mark 6:50, when Jesus tells the disciples “don’t be afraid”). In this current season, it requires God-inspired courage to think about the future of our schools, our students, ourselves, and our communities. Wherever you are and whatever your setting, it will likely take more courage for you to envision a time and a place where we can all join together, in person, as Christian educators and leaders from around the world.
And so, it is with courage that we look to Converge 2022, a global gathering of Christian education leaders (formerly known as the Global Christian School Leadership Summit, or GCSLS) to be held in San Diego next year. Courage even features first in the event theme of “Leading Courageously, Renewing Hope,” as follows:
Amid global challenges, Christian educators from across the world will explore how schools can lead courageously—by bridging divides, embracing change, acting justly, and empowering students—to renew the hope of our communities, in and through Christ.
The prayer of all those planning Converge 2022 is that it would be a time of en-couragement—literally, “to put courage in”—for the Christian school movement worldwide, in keeping with the apostle Paul’s instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV), “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”
We are already encouraged by the distinctives of the upcoming 2022 event, including:
- The broadest group of host organizations—totaling 12—since the event’s inception in 2017;
- A new event name and branding, to capture the energy from these organizations and their educators as they “converge” in 2022; and most importantly,
- A Christ-centered commitment—as reflected in the event theme—to tackle the challenges that are most pressing in our communities, through courageous conversation and redemptive action.
Over the coming months we will be releasing a series of blog posts related to the event theme, with the goal of building up our collective courage as Christian educators, as we lead up to the event. These posts will be written by leading Christian educators from around the globe, many of whom are serving as Converge speakers, host organization leaders, or planning team members.
We invite you to join the mailing list to receive these weekly posts, as well as “save the date” for the event, by visiting the event website here. Along with hundreds of Christian educators around the globe, you can plant this small seed of courage today—and trust in faith that our God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7) will cause it to germinate, grow, and ultimately culminate in a hope-filled, life-giving gathering next year.
Dr. Lynn Swaner, Converge 2022 Chairperson, is the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at ACSI, where she leads initiatives and develops strategies to address compelling questions and challenges facing Christian education. Dr. Swaner serves as a Cardus Senior Fellow and co-author or editor of multiple books on Christian education, including “Flourishing Together: A Christian Vision for Students, Educators, and Schools” (forthcoming 2021 from Eerdmans) and “MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education.” She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @LynnSwaner1.