Rift Valley Academy School Culture Audit

Dr. David A. Wells, Executive Consultant and Principal of the GLOBAL School Consulting Group, is honored to conduct a comprehensive “School Culture Audit” for the RIFT VALLEY ACADEMY (www.rva.org), in Kijabe, Kenya.

According to the RVA website: “RVA is a Christian boarding school in central Kenya with over a hundred years of rich history.  The school currently serves about 500 missionary children representing 30 nationalities and 80 mission organizations and churches.  RVA also accommodates a small number of Kenyan national students and expatriate, non-mission students.  RVA views its role as dyadic: supporting current mission work while investing in the next generation of missionaries and gospel-bearers.  As a branch of Africa Inland Mission, we exist to see Christ-centered churches established and thriving among all of Africa’s peoples.”  The history of RVA is vividly recorded in Dr. Philip Dow’s book, The School in the Clouds – The Rift Valley Academy Story.

In order to ensure an effective and useful assessment of RVA’s campus culture, Dr. Wells has enlisted the support and assistance of other GLOBAL consultants, including Dr. Janet Lowrie Nason (Senior Consultant) and Paul Gibbs (Affiliate Consultant).  One component of the assessment relates to institutional leadership, for which Dr. Toby A. Travis’ TrustED 360 Leadership Assessment is being utilized.  While much advance work is being conducted through electronic communication and surveys, Dr. Wells will be on the RVA campus during the week of January 14-18, 2019, to conduct interviews and focus groups in person.

Build a Proper Climate for Giving

Here is the second installment of a series of articles from Wayne Lynch, Executive Consultant.


What is a Proper Climate for Giving?

 Definition:  A proper climate for giving is one where God’s people experience the joy of giving because they have been moved by the Holy Spirit and challenged to support the Great Commission.

Giving thrives in an atmosphere of trust.  Integrity is the oxygen that gives life to donors.  The people know they are loved, served, and are serving and loving others.  (See Desko –“Building an Atmosphere of Trust.”)  The expectancy of God’s work in their lives and how they can impact others are present.  They are working toward “excelling in the grace of giving.”

Fundamental Principles:

  1. It’s all about the “Mission.” This is more important than money.  The primary reason people give is: they “believe in the mission” of an organization.  Therefore, the school must be very clear about its mission and filter all programs and activities through its grid.
  1. Vision motivates givers and raises money. Clear direction for the future of the school helps excite people about the possibilities of what God can do with their resources.
  1. Develop and maintain “openness and integrity.” Full honesty and clear communication are absolutely essential.  Good school leadership communicates both successes and failures, both good decisions and mistakes.
  1. Generosity in school leadership. When the school leadership is generous, even though they do not communicate how much they give, the community follows their leadership.  All board members must be giving to the school.
  1. Seek to build “A people of God,” emphasizing the role of Biblical community. Treat all givers and potential givers as being of equal value in God’s sight.
  1. Teach about giving. A master plan for teaching stewardship principles should include reaching toddlers through senior adults.
  1. Prayer follows financial investment. This is similar to the principle that where your treasure is your heart will be.  People pray for the ministries they have given to support.
  1. Celebrate successes. Thank donors and volunteers regularly and profusely.  Encourage, exhort, and uplift the people.  Use testimonials of God’s provision.
  1. Develop systems of accountability. Regular reporting of the use of funds as directed is absolutely essential.
  1. No school or ministry has ever survived without money.

Conclusion:

A school with a healthy giving climate is characterized by:

  1. An understanding of the school’s mission
  2. A clear vision of where the school is headed
  3. Generous leadership
  4. A commitment to prayer
  5. A fully informed community
  6. Strong accountability
  7. Godly, stable leadership

Contemporary Problems:

  1. A pattern of negativity. The only time many school communities hear about giving is when the school is behind in their budget or some special project is to be funded.  The only printed communication is a statement of the deficit.
  1. Never mentioning giving. Many consider giving such a private matter that it is ignored altogether.  When this happens, the importance of stewardship is minimized. People need training and teaching in biblical stewardship. 
  1. Announcing construction of a new building before firm costs and funding are identified. Many schools will prematurely announce projects and then see the costs continue to increase.  The project may then need to be reduced in size so people are disappointed and often lose confidence in leadership. 

Critical Guiding Passage of Scripture:

Micah 6:8 – “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Tips:

  • Compassion, empathy, and sympathy are great ways to encourage people to give.
  • Schools should not see themselves in competition with other ministries for the donor’s gifts. The decision to give is between the donor and God.  They must follow their heart.
  • People don’t like to give to pay off debt or cost overruns.
  • Don’t tell people to “Give till it hurts,” tell them to “Give till it feels good.”
  • There are more verses in the New Testament on money and material possessions than on Heaven and Hell combined.
  • Always use funds exactly as the donor designates. Do not borrow internally from restricted funds.  Nothing discourages giving like mistrust. 

Action Required:

  1. Establish a stewardship committee that is responsible for developing a-wide long-range plan for raising money.
  2. The mission statement should be clearly visible on all church buildings and literature, and be memorized by all leadership and staff.
  3. The “vision” or direction of the future of the school needs to be clearly understood by the community.
  4. School leadership should commit themselves to open, honest, positive communication about finances and stewardship. 

Life Lesson:

Schools and churches with the most financial problems usually have debt, instability in leadership and lack of direction.  To compensate for this, there is a constant emphasis on the budget – often “how far we are behind” (failing to tell how expenses have been cut or are reduced as well), or that “we only increased the budget 2% this year” (as if there were something spiritual about small increases, when actually small increases usually keep people’s sights low), or using the budget as an excuse for all “no’s” (“it’s not in the budget so we can’t do it,” or, “we’ve used up the budget”).  The only time the community hears about giving is when the school is behind in the budget.   

The easiest way to destroy an atmosphere of trust is to use a donor’s gift in a way other than what the donor directed.  No apology seems to be enough to rebuild the trust.  These donors never seem to regain their enthusiasm for giving. 

Quotes:

  • “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18
  • “An audience that doesn’t pay is very critical.” – George Burns
  • “One of the greatest missing teachings in the American Church today is the reminder that nothing we have belongs to us.” – George MacDonald
©2018 Wayne Lynch, All Rights Reserved

How to Successfully Raise Money

Here is the first installment of a series of articles from Wayne Lynch, Executive Consultant.


WKL8x10Step One:  Develop a Biblical Philosophy of Raising Money

 
Definition: Fundraising is a spiritual ministry to assist givers in achieving their full measure of generosity and to experience God’s maximum blessing.
God gives access to His financial resources.  The church should recognize that these resources have been entrusted into the hands of stewards – people in the congregation.  It is the church’s responsibility to disciple, educate, teach, exhort, and help people to be wise stewards through effective planning and joyful giving.  The church benefits from the giving in being able to carry out its mission; the donor enjoys God’s blessings.  The problem comes in coordinating the two – the church’s mission and people’s giving.  The church should determine their philosophy of raising money according to biblical principles and use this as a framework for an effective fundraising plan.
Fundamental Principles:
1.      God owns it all; His people are only stewards.  (Psalm 50:10 – “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on the thousand hills.”  Psalm 24:1 – “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”)
God, the Creator, owns everything and has entrusted His people with the stewardship responsibilities for resources, talents, and time.  This fundamental principle encourages givers to be wise stewards of all God’s provisions.  The major question is how much to keep and how much to give.
2.      God wants to bless.  (Acts 20:35 – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”)  Blessing accompanies generosity.  Paul, in accepting gifts from the church at Philippi said, “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (Philippians 4:17).
3.      God knows how much is needed.  (Philippians 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”)  God knows the exact amount of “supplies” that are in the best interests of His children to have.  In some cases this may be a tremendous amount of money, and in other cases it may be little.
4.      Planning and diligent work are required.  (2 Corinthians 9:7a – “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give…”)  The phrase “decided in his heart” which indicates the need to plan wisely before God.  The principle of wise planning applies to discipleship in Luke 14:28 and can also be applied to the process of organization and planning for the future.  (“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”)
5.      We must use Biblical principles and ethics to “help people give.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7b – “…not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.”)  God does not want His people “forced” or under undue pressure to give.  It should be a voluntary, cheerful response to the God who provides all blessings.
6.      Raising money is inextricably linked to the Great Commission and Gospel message.  (2 Corinthians 9:13 – “…your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else.”)  Fulfilling the Great Commission requires the financial support of God’s people for the church, ministers, missionaries, workers, materials, and support systems.  Gifts meet needs, help to fulfill plans, and enable the Gospel to be spread throughout the world.
Conclusion:
“Where your treasure is, your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  God wants our hearts!  The church can help people have a heart for God by creating an environment that sees fundraising as “a spiritual ministry that involves partnering with God and His people in distributing financial resources.”
©2018 Wayne Lynch, All Rights Reserved

The Complex Reasons for School Shootings

Bobby pic
Bobby Brasher, Affiliate Consultant

The reasons for school shootings are many and complex. Many people, including some of our politicians, focus on one factor: gun control. The topic of gun control leads and supports their agenda. Yet, there are a wide variety of ongoing reasons and factors for shootings:

  • Guns are many and available to people who don’t need to have one
  • The decay of moral character (Video games, violence and the devaluation of life in our society – particularly with our young people)
  • The decline of the family unit and parental involvement
  • The approach to mental health and the lack of availability and treatment
  • The architecture and design of our schools, as well as lack of training for faculty and staff

All of the above are contributing factors in school shootings. Until we address each through awareness, action, and training, we may continue to experience mass violence. Your thoughts?

©2018 Bobby Brasher

School Safety Threat Assessment

School Safety Threat Assessment is the first step to making your campus safe and secure. Historically, schools have been designed and built for easy entrance and easy exit. They were never built to protect and guard from an attack.

Now, we find ourselves trying to reinforce and defend structures and buildings that were never designed to deter or prevent an attack.

A thorough threat assessment is the first step towards student safety. Our safety and security consultants are veteran military law-enforcement with instructor certifications. In the coming weeks, I will break down the components for the security of your school and your students.

BoBBy formal pic
Bobby Brasher, Affiliate Consultant

Family-Owned Schools: “Altruistic Behavior” – by Dr. David A. Wells

There are several non-economic factors that distinguish family-owned schools from those with other ownership structures.  Owner values and emotional engagement are two such factors addressed in previous posts.  Another such unique and distinguishing factor is altruistic behavior among family members.  Altruistic behavior among family members, in the literature, is considered to refer to family members’ desire to cater to the welfare of their family unit (Gomez-Mejia, Cruz, Berrone, and De Castro).

This consultant has worked with many proprietary schools in which altruistic behavior among family members has been functional, purposeful, and effective; contexts within which members of a family have joined forces in operating their school, resulting in an efficient and economically-sound endeavor, bringing economic and non-economic benefit to the family members, as well as to the consumers and beneficiaries of the enterprise.

There is, however, potential for a darker side to this factor of altruistic behavior, in the context of family-owned schools, in which the effort and intent is to benefit family members engaged in the enterprise, without significant consideration to their qualification or contribution to achievement of intended organizational purposes.  The satisfaction resulting from this altruism, and the benefits received, can end up being a consequence of living up to family obligations, rather than a commitment and expectation of competence, contribution, or professional performance.

As a safeguard against this sort of altruistic behavior, which can be highly detrimental in the school setting, it is increasingly common for family-owned schools to develop governance-level policies which require owners and beneficiaries of owners who intend to work within the schools, to:

  • demonstrate qualifications commensurate with the position,
  • submit to supervision and evaluation according to established norms,
  • and receive compensation consistent with that received by employees of similar rank and responsibility.

In this way, safeguards are put into place to ensure that altruistic behavior among family members doesn’t become a negative force within the school and its community.

©2018 David A. Wells, Ed.D.

Family-Owned Schools: Emotional Engagement – by Dr. David A. Wells

There are several non-economic factors that distinguish family-owned and other privately-owned schools from those with other ownership structures.  Owner values are one such structure addressed in a previous post.  Another such unique and distinguishing factor is strong emotional engagement.  Such schools provide a context in which the family and social group dynamics overlap with those of the school, and create rich and challenging emotional realities.

Owners’ identities are closely tied to their school, and their reputations and social identities are connected directly and inextricably to their school. 

Both emotional stress and satisfaction are closely tied to the owners’ engagement, especially when owners are active in governance and/or management of their school.  Baron (2008) asserts that “it is now widely accepted that the boundaries between family and the firm are blurred in family business, and that emotions flow back and forth, ultimately affecting how the firm conducts its activities.”

This consultant has observed the role that emotions play in decision-making and in the social dynamics of a school through his involvement with a highly-successful school in Central America, owned jointly by several individuals; each of whom was actively engaged in the school’s governance and operation.  The emotional and affective connection between these owners and their school clearly influenced emotions, behaviors, social relationships, communication flow, and decision-making in the school.

Unlike schools owned by entities such as foundations, parent associations, churches, and other entities, in which there is often a regular rotation of key leaders and employees, in privately-owned schools (especially those owned by families), issues cannot be resolved simply by separation and having key figures move on and be replaced.  Owners who choose to be active in their schools, are bound together, obliged to deal with the emotional and inter-personal challenges that invariably come, often without the option of moving on to another enterprise.

Family-owned and other privately-owned schools have unique cultures and distinctions, which add to the richness of the non-public school community and the variety of options available in the marketplace.  These cultures and distinctives often reflect the essence of the personalities, emotions, and uniqueness of the owners themselves.

©2018 David A. Wells, Ed.D.

Family-Owned Schools: Values – by Dr. David A. Wells

There are several non-economic factors that distinguish family-owned schools from those with other ownership structures.  One such unique and distinguishing factor is the “Values” held by school owners.  Values particular to the Founder or the family-owners often permeate the school’s organization and operation.  It is very common that family-owners have a strong desire to infuse their values into the school’s culture, and considerable attention is paid to preserving, celebrating, and perpetuating these values in the life of the school, as an essential facet of the owner’s non-economic investment and legacy.

“The importance of family values as the pillars of the family business’s culture… enabling the company to be differentiated from other enterprises” (Aronoff, 2004).

Often, the dominant role of the Founder of the school, during the entrepreneurial stage of the school’s development, and in subsequent phases, frames a culture within which the inculcation and propagation of the owner’s values become powerful cultural drivers within the school.

This reality has been observed first-hand in several contexts, but never more powerfully than in the DelCampo International School, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  This Consultant had the opportunity to accompany the school’s Founder, Orietta Facusse in the process of articulating the values she holds and seeks to celebrate and propagate in DCIS.  One such value, that is self-evident in DCIS’s culture, is the Founder’s passionately-held value of the “essential worth of the individual”.

“At DCIS, we believe that an individual has intrinsic worth, and that this worth is not dependent upon the individual’s ability, intellect, capacity, attributes, or even potential.  Rather, we value integral development of the individual, helping and permitting for each individual to reach his/her personal potential” (DCIS Board Policy).

This value drove the Founder, and those in her leadership circle, to develop the DelCampo International Academy, a “school within the school” that provides unique and specialized programs and services permitting students who had never been successful in traditional school programs to succeed and flourish.  Development of the “Academy” was a risk and a challenge, considered worthy because of a school culture that firmly values of the essential worth of all individuals.

©2018 David A. Wells, Ed.D.

Governance Training in Bucaramanga, Colombia

Dr. David A. Wells, Executive and Managing Consultant of the GLOBAL School Consultant Group, is honored to provide governance training to the Board of the Colegio Panamericana (www.panamericano.edu.co), of Bucaramanga, Colombia.  The Board of Director’s reports to the General Assembly of Parents, and is responsible for governance of the school, including oversight of the work of the school’s director.

Photo 1

The Colegio Panamericano is a progressive, non-profit educational community with a global perspective offering both Colombian and U.S. diplomas.  The school’s rigorous curriculum and exemplary faculty empower students to develop their intellectual, physical, and ethical potentials in preparation for a quality university education and successful life.

Photo 2

GLOBAL Provides Organizational Assessment for MEDA

Dr. David A. Wells is honored to have the opportunity to bring together and manage a team of executive-level consultants that has been contracted by “Exalting Christ in Honduras” to conduct a comprehensive organizational assessment of Ministerios Evangélicos de las Americas (MEDA), based in Siguatepeque, Honduras. The consulting team is composed of Alfredo Umaña, Dr. Stephen Robinson, and Wayne Lynch.

MEDA provides conference and training programs, focused on pastoral training and church strengthening, for the purpose of developing pastors and church leaders.  Currently, more than 100 churches send leaders to MEDA for training.

img_6799-min_2x

MEDA’s mission is to promote the exaltation of Jesus Christ in Latin America through the Spirit-filled, powerful, passionate and precise preaching of His Word.  This is accomplished by training church leaders through sound biblical exegesis to exalt Christ in their lives and in their preaching.  MEDA offers two pastoral training and two church-strengthening programs: The Seminary for Expository Preaching (SEPE), The Institute for Pastoral Ministries, conferences for all church leaders, and The Institute for Women’s Ministries.