Thursday, March 12, 2015

26. Good leaders look for opportunities.

I sense this is getting very long, so let me skip a couple posts and get to this year (if I self-publish these notes, I'll add one post on improvements we made to our infrastructure in years 4 and 5, as well as one post about our transition to Learning Studio as a platform).

Year 6: Launching the Future (2014-15)
1. At the Convocation Service this year in August 2014, Wayne held up a plaque to be placed somewhere in the building. It signified what we had accomplished as a Seminary in our first five years, not least achieved accreditation with ATS in breakneck speed.

Then he held up another plaque. It was blank. He challenged us. What will go on this plaque to signify the next five years?

The first of those years is now almost past. I don't know what will go on that plaque, but I know some significant things that have happened this year.

2. One thought has to do with the application of John Wesley to today. Last year, Bob Whitesel took a group of students to England for an elective called, "The Land and Leadership of John Wesley." It was a reminiscent of a similar elective Bob and Russ led seven years ago. In this course, Bob took the students to various Wesley sites and explored Wesley from a standpoint of leadership principles we can draw from him.

The plan is currently that Bob will go to England every year, one year as an elective for Seminary students and then next as a trip for friends of IWU that he would do in conjunction with the development office.

Because of his associations with the Wesley Research Centre in Manchester, England, he began to raise the possibility of an association with them going forward. Wayne and I have reflected on this possibility for a couple years. This year, Wayne is moving forward with our membership, in part because he wonders if one piece on that plaque might include us being known for doing scholarship that applies the best of Wesley to today.

Colleen Derr fits in that brainstorm, for her doctoral work involved a significant element of applying Wesley to congregational formation. Another friend of Wesley in our community is Patrick Eby, who we may draw into such schemes. We will see what happens.

3. This might also be a good place for me to mention some of the behind the scenes things that Wayne does to enrich the future of the Seminary. I know he prays for us by name. I'm sure this not only includes those of us who work at Wesley and many he knows from the past. I know he prays for many students by name as well.

Wayne calls every new student who is accepted into the Seminary to welcome them. I know he keeps in contact with many of them after they graduate. There is a quiet piety and spirituality that you can see if you watch carefully. In keeping with Matthew 6, he does not trumpet it, but you know it is a key part of what makes him a great leader.

4. The biggest addition to the Seminary so far this year is the launch of specializations in Church Planting and Multiplication, as well as Church Health and Revitalization. I know these areas are dear to Wayne's heart, as well as to the Seminary board. They relate to two of the signature areas that the Board wanted to focus on as a Seminary.

This initiative, born of Wayne's desire to serve the church, has created a chain reaction that will soon be a major growth edge for the Seminary.

Last year, we explored the question of giving certificates for these sorts of things. As it turns out, there is a whole unpleasant layer of bureaucracy here. The government insists that a certificate issued by an academic institution needs to monitor the students after graduation to show that having the certificate improved their likelihood for "gainful employment." We were not looking for something that complicated.

So we decided to explore the idea of offering four course "specializations." And if you do these four courses and are not a student at the university, the Dean will send you a letter indicating that you have completed these four courses. We'll give you a piece of paper that is not an academic "certificate."

The first of these was the specialization in Church Planting and Multiplication, and Wayne tapped church planter Ed Love to design these four courses. I think we have something like 18 students running through this program right now, some of whom are Wesley students, some of whom come from outside the Seminary.

The four courses are "Multiply" (a one week intensive that visits several church plants), "Core" (about the character of a church planter), "Launch" (how to launch a church plant), and "Thrive" (how to face hurdles that come a year or so in.

Wayne tapped our own Charles Arn for the second specialization in Church Health and Revitalization. Three of the courses in this specialization were already being offered regularly: 1) Power, Change, and Conflict Management, a required course in the MA Leadership program, 2) Newcomer Integration, an elective Dr. Arn designed that is probably the most popular course the Seminary offers, and 3) Diagnosis and Prescription for a Healthy Church, another elective Dr. Arn wrote.

The fourth course we added to make this specialization is called, "Church Revitalization Field Supervision." It is a great concept where a student actually goes on a consultation with a church that needs revitalized. Wayne has developed a network of consultants that students can go with, including not least Paul Borden.

Wayne really does see the Seminary as able to do for the church initiatives like these that are so needed, but much harder for a headquarters to pull off. One person described his focus as "laser light" on coming alongside the church to help it with its mission. He is not interested in growth of the Seminary merely for growth's sake. It is the growth of the church that he sees the Seminary targeting, I believe.

5. I have mentioned Aaron Wilkinson from time to time, our Director of Admissions. I'm not sure when he drank the Wesley/IWU Kool-Aid. Maybe he is just wired that way. But it seems like he has come up with what I consider to be exponential growth concepts this year.

A key one is developing right now. We have now academically distinguished between the MA in Ministry degree as a core and what we used to call concentrations. Up till now, you had to get an MA in Ministry, Leadership concentration or an MA in Minisry, Children, Youth, and Family Ministry concentration. Now you not only can get an MA in Ministry with 18 elective hours of your own choosing (a generic MA), but after next week you should be able to plug all our specializations into the MA.

What this means is that, after next week, you should be able now to get an MA in Ministry, Church Planting and Multiplication specialization; an MA in Ministry, Church Health and Revitalization specialization; MA in Ministry, Pastoral Care specialization (done in conjunction with the Grad. Counseling division at IWU). And I see at least two more coming quickly: a worship specialization and one something in the area of administration (done in conjunction with the Devoe School of Business).

Aaron has had the idea of synchronizing our cohort schedules so that, if we do not have a full cohort for one of these specializations, the schedule will combine these smaller groups for the core courses and then the non-core can fill up as electives for the whole Seminary. It is a bold idea and the chart to the left reflects the synchronized schedule we hope to use moving forward. It's complicated. It's ingenious. It may facilitate an exponential expansion of specializations.

The Church Planting and Church Health specializations launched August 2014.

Previously on Seminary take-aways:

1. There are key moments of opportunity.
2. You need the right people.
3. Good leaders collaborate and navigate.

Year 1: Launch Year
4. Innovation requires some trial and error. (1)
5. Innovation requires some trial and error. (2)
6. Innovation requires some trial and error. (3)
7. New leaders bring new strengths. (1)

Year 2: Growing Pains
8. Administration never ends.
9. New leaders bring new strengths. (2)
10. New leaders bring new strengths. (3)

Year 3: The Year of Maturity
11. Complexity works against sustainability.
12. There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university. (1)
13. There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university. (2)
14. Our guinea pigs survived.

Year 4: The Year of the Faculty
15. Faculty share governance with administration. (1)
16. Faculty share governance with administration. (2)
17. Faculty share governance with administration. (3)
18. Faculty share governance with administration. (4)
19. Growth means addition. (1)
20. Growth means addition. (2)
21. Growth means addition. (3)

Year 5: The Year of Accreditation
22. Don't underestimate the power of a symbol.
23. A good reputation is much to be desired.
24. Sustainability needs reliable infrastructure.
25. Important decisions often involve trade-offs.

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