What's the first thing you think of when you hear someone talk about managing change? Do you immediately think of an opportunity for a positive experience — like growth and development — or do you go straight to the negative notion that something bad is happening?
Do a quick online search on change or change management and you’ll find that there is no shortage of definitions, tips, principles, and articles on the topic. Change is everywhere, and debates about managing it abound.
Recently I was in conversation with a small group of theological school presidents when one suggested a shift from the concept of “managing change” to one of “creating a culture where change is part of the ethos.” I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Leaders and supporters of theological schools are constantly challenged to reflect on current practices and systems and to consider how best to live into the future and fulfill the mission of their institutions. After all, “Change is inevitable, but growth is optional.” This well-used quote by leadership expert John C. Maxwell is simple yet true.
This issue of In Trust offers examples of schools and leaders embracing change — big and small — and thriving while doing so.
One of them is Fuller Theological Seminary. As Alex Newman explains in her article “A New Perspective on Southern California,” “Disruption” was not only the title of a recent issue of Fuller magazine, but it is also an apt description of the seminary’s relocation from its home of more than 70 years.
These disruptions in higher education, and in theological education in particular, have led to some seminaries eliminating extension sites and others rethinking how they meet the needs of their students with physical and online options. You may read more about this trend in David Sumner's "Regional Campuses Declining but Not Disappearing."
And, with change occurring across the landscape of theological education, many faculty members are feeling excluded from critical conversations within their institutions. What do faculty members wish administrators and board members knew about their concerns? Read more in Greg Carey's "What I Wish Boards and Administrators Knew About Faculty."
Finally, do you know the vocational goals of your students and fully understand the implications of these goals? In “What Do Seminary Graduates Want to Do with Their Degrees?," Jo Ann Deasy offers data and questions that may change or lead to new conversations about your school’s mission fulfillment.
As you navigate change, we hope that this issue will spark conversations at your school. And if you are interested in engaging others in conversation, email us at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.