Christian colleges and universities are hurting. A recent piece on CNNMoney reports these institutions are slashing tuition in an attempt to stay afloat.
The article cited declining church membership, especially among the young, as a nagging cause for the problems plaguing Christian schools.
But I wonder if the picture is a bit more complex. I wonder if the academic product itself is losing some luster.
Allow me to pose some questions. I’d love to hear your answers.
- Do Bible colleges and seminaries have a clearly defined goal? And is that goal in concert with the students’ goal for a higher education? As a former student, and as a parent and an employer, I’ve looked to academic institutions to equip students to succeed in the work world. That’s the top priority, the first reason students and their parents would part with their tuition dollars. Do schools embrace this top priority?
- Do Bible colleges and seminaries accept the responsibility to prepare students with practical skills, in addition to theory and theology? Some years ago we polled people in full-time ministry. We asked if they felt their colleges and seminaries adequately prepared them for real ministry. Only five percent said yes.
- How are faculty members chosen? What is the top hiring priority? Is it the true demonstrated ability to effectively teach, inspire and equip students? Or, is it other stuff, such as academic pedigree, authored books, or name recognition?
- Do schools pursue a customer focus? Are they passionately dedicated to customer (student) satisfaction? If so, you’d expect to see evidence such as regular follow-up with students and past students. Have you received follow-up questionnaires inquiring about how well your education prepared you for real-life ministry? Has your college or seminary asked how they might improve their service?
And a bonus question: What’s with this thing called tenure? Is this really working to maintain a staff of consistently top performers who serve their students?
I have a number of friends who serve in Christian academia. They’re good hard-working people. I just wonder if the system is serving them and their students as well as it might.
What do you think?