Mergers and consolidations are in the news these days. Just off the top of my head, I can think of several:
With some exceptions, most of these consolidations involve a seminary becoming a graduate division within a small university of the same theological tradition. That seems like a winning combination.
But here's an unusual variation. In Springfield, Missouri, three institutions are being consolidated -- a Bible college, a liberal arts university, and a graduate-level theological school. All three are Assemblies of God institutions, and the consolidation is being spearheaded by the general superintendent, the chief executive of the denomination.
Here's what I love about the process that the Assemblies of God schools have undertaken: The level of transparency is remarkable. In fact, there's a whole website devoted to the consolidation.
The consolidation website includes a number of resources: thorough studies, proposed structural diagrams of the merged institution, press releases, and more. But for many people, the best features of the website are the videos. One is called "Strategic Vision for Springfield Resident Schools," and it's an explanation of why the consolidation is needed. The general superintendent himself speaks directly at the camera for a full hour, laying out the case for the consolidation. Putting the denominational executive in front of the video camera is powerful, and Dr. George Wood is an able spokesman -- sincere and direct, but not emotional or manipulative. A screen shot is above.
The second video is called "Task Force Consolidation Update," and if you want to see the power of YouTube-style film, just watch the first 90 seconds. In it, Dr. Wood ties his vision for the consolidated schools directly to his vision for the future of the Assemblies of God, and then he adroitly connects this to the earliest history of the denomination.
These are not polished documentaries. There's no music or fancy editing, and minimal equipment was required. The Assemblies of God videos could have been produced by college students. But they demonstrate that the technologies that are already ubiquitous on our campuses can be used effectively for board and stakeholder education.
And if the biennial convention of the Assemblies of God gives the assent this summer, that denomination will have completed something pretty unusual -- a consolidation of three separate educational institutions.