arly in 2019, the In Trust Center will be joining the Association of Theological Schools, the Center for Congregations, and Lilly Endowment Inc. for “Gathering First Fruits,” a national summit on the economics of ministry. Leaders and scholars from 72 seminaries, 36 denominational agencies, and nine supporting organizations will assemble to share what they’ve learned about making ministry financially viable for people who are called to lead churches, missions, schools, and other organizations in the next century. As Lilly Endowment program director John Wimmer says, “Understanding the new economics of ministry is vitally important to the health and witness of American communities of faith today.”

We’ll be sure to share what we learn at the summit.

Sharing what we learn has been on our front burner for the past 30 years. Over the decades, In Trust magazine has offered readers perspectives from the field, wise practices, tools, and stories about theological schools whose leaders are focusing on strategic issues, managing change, and exploring opportunities. More than 110 issues filled with information — information for board members, executive leaders, administrators, and faculty. We continue to be grateful for our readers, like you, who value this information.

But even the most valuable, respected resource can be overwhelming at times. 

Which articles should you share with board members? Which would be great for staff meetings? Faculty retreats? What’s the best way to share what you are learning?

You most likely are bombarded with information in every facet of your life. Some is of personal interest, while much more is related to work, church, and volunteer efforts. There are reports, endless emails, occasional takeaways from conferences. Add social media engagement to everything else and quickly you experience the fire hose.

Forbes reports that by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. Countless posts and articles on how to manage this information simply add to your sense of being overwhelmed. 

How can you best manage and use the information you receive in service of your theological school?

Let me offer an example from this issue.

Board members receive an immense amount of information in preparation for board meetings — reports, budgets, finances, and data. In “How boards can avoid information overload,” William J. Cahoy provides an example from his school, Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary, of how to manage information for the board. 

As you read, consider your own board communications. If you are the sender, are you turning on the fire hose and overloading your board? If you are the receiver, what would you offer as an improvement? And, is there information that you aren’t receiving that you wish you were?

In 2018, the In Trust Center, in partnership with the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, began an initiative to work with 30 schools over three years, focusing on institutional governance. Through this initiative — and in our Resource Consulting work, which put us in contact with 90 schools just in 2018 — we hear directly from people who say they want to prioritize the board’s time to focus on strategic issues and discussions. Most share that too much of the board’s time is spent on the past and present and not enough on the future. But they struggle with how to guide more fruitful conversations. 

If you need help accessing or streamlining resources and information so that you aren’t turning on the fire hose, email us at resources@intrust.org or call us at (302) 654-7770. We would be happy to help connect you to resources, including curated articles and carefully selected information, to foster your community of learning.

The board and staff of the In Trust Center join me in wishing you a blessed new year!

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