In February 2017, an unprecedented event in the history of the Christian school movement occurred in Orlando, Florida, where eight Christian education organizations convened over 700 leaders from around the world. At the inaugural Global Christian School Leadership Summit, participants from K–12 schools, colleges and universities, early education programs, and nonprofits engaged collaboratively to envision the future of Christian education. Educators worked together to answer crucial questions facing the movement, like these:
- What must Christian schools and postsecondary institutions do to ensure their sustainability in challenging economic and cultural times?
- How can Christian schools prepare students to engage a rapidly changing, post-Christian culture?
- What does effective Christian teaching and learning look like in the 21st century?
- How can Christian schools provide biblically faithful science instruction and STEM preparation?
- In an increasingly interdependent world, how can Christian education maintain its relevance across the globe?
- What are the best ways to govern and lead today’s Christian schools?
- How can Christian schools and postsecondary institutions respond to increasing legal and legislative challenges to religious freedom?
In order to capture the dialogue around these questions, a team of Christian education experts served as “participant-observers” at the summit. These experts then authored seven chapters on the questions above—laying out the themes, ideas, and directions that emerged for each—for a new book titled PIVOT: New Directions for Christian Education.
The verb form of pivot alternatively means to turn (as in pivoting in a basketball game), or to depend on something (as in, “the company’s sales growth pivots on the CEO’s decision”). Both definitions are aptly suited to this book, as the title reflects the need for the Christian school movement to enact a series of game-changing strategies if schools are to respond effectively to the pressures they face in these areas.
In 1 Chronicles 12:23, Scripture provides a description of a “pivot” in Israel’s history: “These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him, as the Lord had said” (NIV, emphasis added). While the passage goes on to describe the contributions of the various tribes of Israel to David’s army, it is fascinating to note the description of one specific tribe: “from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command” (1 Chronicles 12:32, NIV, emphasis added). As is true of all Scripture, this description is not haphazard. With a major turning point underway—the transition of the kingship for the first time in Israel’s history, and not uncontested at that—Issachar’s abilities would be crucial. David needed those on his side who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.
At this moment in its history, the Christian school movement is likewise in need of Issachar’s skill set. PIVOT: New Directions for Christian Education is not a lockstep how-to guide for what Christian schools ought to do, but rather provides an important initial gathering of collective insights on the future of Christian education. The goal of the book is to convene Christian educators around our current pivot point—just as did David’s warriors gathered at Hebron—to consider how we can understand the times and consider how to respond. With questions for thought and discussion at the end of each chapter, the book is intended to serve as a professional development resource for those who lead, teach in, and study Christian schools.
Those involved with the project have described it as a “centerpiece for conversation” regarding the Christian school movement. To that end, this blog will feature an excerpt of a book chapter later this week: “Making Sense of Culture for the Christ-Centered School,” by Dr. Bill Brown, Senior Fellow for Worldview and Culture at the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. We are looking forward to sharing insights from PIVOT and we invite you to join us in the conversation!
About the Author
Dr. Lynn E. Swaner is the director of Thought Leadership and Higher Education Initiatives at ACSI. Prior to ACSI, she served as a Christian school administrator and a graduate professor of education. A published scholar, her focus is on engaged pedagogy and creating cultures that foster student learning. She received her EdD from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org