Sustainable Schooling in a Rapidly Changing World

Timothy WiensMeasures of a Healthy School, The CACE Roundtable2 Comments

Part 4: The Amazing Opportunity in Front of Us

Students raising their hands in a classroom.

Over the past three posts in this series, I took a brief look at the recent growth of our schools, several foundational elements that ensure school sustainability, and present trends (and potentially future trends) that impact the way we do our work. In this final installment, I will emphasize the amazing opportunity our schools have to impact our communities and the world.

With the data and knowledge we have from the past 100 years of independent schooling, we can and do understand how trends (be they educational, civic, political, religious, business, or any other current trend) affect the work we do. We also know that with societal change and institutional change comes growth—as hard as change may be.

We as Christian schools want to grow in the right direction because of the weight of what we do. Nelson Mandela stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” While I am not certain changing the world is our ultimate calling (I think that call is best stated in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever”), I do think we are called to be a witness to the world around us and to impact through the truth of the gospel. This Good News has and will continue to transform the world. Outside of the church, what better place to do that than within and beyond the walls of our Christian schools and through the lives of our students?

“We are called to be a witness to the world around us and to impact through the truth of the gospel.”

My former pastor in Atlanta, Dr. Jason Dees, talks a lot about the church gathering and scattering. We come together on Sundays and at various times during the week, then scatter to our homes, places of employment, schools, friend gatherings, and other social activities, all to be a witness of the good news—to share with others the amazing work of Jesus Christ in and through our daily lives.

When I think about gathering and scattering well, I think of Lee Rose. Lee Rose was the sole female on the fishing team at my former school. She was known for her exceptional angling ability and her deep faith in Jesus. When Lee Rose graduated from high school, she received a fishing scholarship to attend university. (I know–who knew there were college fishing scholarships?)

Lee Rose completed a highly successful college career as an angler, but more importantly, she stood strong in her faith and impacted the world of professional fishing. As a paid influencer posting regularly about fishing products on social media, she also writes regularly about her love for Jesus. Lee Rose influences the fishing world as a devout follower and proclaimer of Jesus.

“We educate so our students understand that their great calling in life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Our Christian schools can act in a similar way. While our schools were never meant to replace the church, we, too, can and should act as institutions and as peoples who gather and scatter for the sake of the gospel. We educate so our students understand that their great calling in life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We educate for the sake of helping our students understand that in all they do, they are called, as James Davison Hunter says, to be a “faithful presence” in the colleges and universities they attend, in the workplace, as spouses, as parents, and as friends and colleagues.

I am excited about the future. There has never been a time in the history of the world where the gospel has proliferated faster than it is today. Our opportunities as Christian schools are, therefore, endless; but no opportunity is more vital than that to disciple and train our students to know and understand the gospel, to be salt and light, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus throughout their lifetimes. To be a faithful presence.

While the future is uncertain and the world is changing rapidly, one thing we know for certain: we have a chance to impact the hearts and minds of our students and to send them well prepared to scatter in such a way that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are glorified and enjoyed forever.


  • Timothy Wiens

    Timothy Wiens has spent the entirety of his 31-year career in education. He has spent time in both public and independent schools, serving as the head of three Christian schools and as a professor at Wheaton College. He has also served as the Co-chair of the Peabody Professional Institute for Independent School Leadership at Vanderbilt University and as the Co-founder and Co-director of the ADVIS-Penn Independent School Leadership Institute in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Tim holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and education and a master's degree in educational leadership from Bethel University, a MBA from the University of Oxford's Said Business School (UK), and a doctorate in organizational leadership from St. Mary's University (MN).

2 Comments on “Sustainable Schooling in a Rapidly Changing World”

  1. When it comes to thought leaders for Christian schools, Dr. Wiens is among the very best. His experience and expertise sets him apart and his message is always compelling and meaningful.

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