"We will shape a campus community that is more comfortable with and more readily accepts appropriate change."

President Rolls Out Five-year BJU Strategic Plan
The quote is from one of six “Strategic Themes.”
Another: “We will execute a full rebranding program that will define internally and externally who we are and will seek to change the long-standing public misperceptions about BJU.”

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Dan Burrell's picture

Having just completed a consulting job with a college seeking reaffirmation of accreditation from TRACS, I know that this is a required initiative and document for ongoing accreditation. I see this as a direct benefit/result/consequence of BJU's seeking of national accreditation and a positive one at that. However, the Strategic Plan must be revisited and deseminated strategically and regularly for it to have any meaningful effect and it should produce a cascade of additional documents, goals and initiatives as a result if it is being implemented correctly. The name of the game in higher education accreditation right now is Strategic Planning and Assessment that models a "bottom up" flow of ideas, thoughts, input and recommendations. Such an approach generally runs counter to how fundamentalist (and many other) colleges/universities have traditionally operated. It will be interesting to see if this is actually embraced by the administration or simply becomes the fulfillment of a TRACS requirement. I believe truly implementing the strategic plan and developing it fully would be a positive step for BJU and am glad to see them moving in this direction.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Don Johnson's picture

Sounds like someone is getting exceedingly skilled in bafflegab.

I don't see how sounding pompous is a step forward.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

The first thirty years of church history was characterized by God-ordained change according to the book of Acts. The whole Bible doctrine of sanctification indicates the importance of the right kind of change in a person's life. Young people will be better prepared to serve the Lord when they are anchored in Him and willing to make changes as He directs.

I applaud the Administration of BJU for being willing to make appropiate changes needed in the service of the King.

Shaynus's picture

This is much needed. For so long the school has been so committed to faithfulness, that it hasn't always seen what it means to be faithful in our particular time. There are truths that are timeless and applications that will change.

Seriously Don? You're lecturing them on sounding pompous? If it's bafflegab, I'm good at understanding it. It seems pretty clear to me.

Don Johnson wrote:
Sounds like someone is getting exceedingly skilled in bafflegab.

I don't see how sounding pompous is a step forward.

Don Johnson's picture

Shayne, I didn't say I couldn't understand it.

I said it sounded like bureaucratic bafflegab. You can find tons of this kind of sonorous rhetoric coming out of Ottawa, and I daresay Washington also. Mostly it provides activity for paper shufflers and accomplishes nothing.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Shaynus's picture

You can think what you want, and throw water on anything you want. Can you point to one thing that's "pompous?" It seems like if an organization is saying they need to be more open to change, that that's the opposite of pompous. And to mislabel unpompousness as pompousness is pompous in my opinion.

Don Johnson's picture

So the statement says they need to be "more open to change". Hmm... what does that mean?

Is that all there is to it? Can you offer ANY substantive changes that this document actually provides? It announces vague initiatives that will be commenced, now or in the future, and some of the things it supposedly espouses are activities the University is already doing. It's all vague puffery. If this is what accreditation means, I'm agin it. The fable of the emperor and his clothes comes to mind.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Shaynus's picture

Don,

I hate to compare the Bible with a BJU policy document, but I'm going to just to make a very limited point. In the Great Commission, we have Jesus casting a general vision for his disciples. At the point of the Ascension, the disciples probably had little substance, and lots of vision. Later they were told more of the plan (how to teach, go ect). Given your standards of what kind of details should be released NOW, if you were a disciple, you would probably be wondering about the specifics, but you wouldn't call anyone pompous for not telling you everything in your time frame. I admit, Dr. Jones isn't anywhere close to God so I forgive any lesser respect reserved for him. However, I you're judging him by standards that reasonable people wouldn't expect to see at the very beginning of implementing a five year plan.

Businesses do this kind of progressive strategic planning all the time. They lay out a vision to customers and supporters, then give specifics. Think of Apple's Steve Jobs Keynotes. He hints at things, and gives some details but not all. He has a massive internal plan, but doesn't lay out all the specifics in public. This is entirely appropriate for a business or organization. We probably do this in our churches as well. Pastors and leadership teams work on planning strategy behind the scenes, share their vision with the congregation, get them on board with the vision and direction, then finally they implement.

The document states that there is another document that is the action plan, so don't judge a vision statement by action plan standards.

Don Johnson's picture

Shayne, I don't think your analogy is even close.

But regardless, I just find this corporate obfuscation extremely tedious. If you have something to say, say it. If not, wait till you do have something to say.

But if bafflegab makes you happy, then enjoy.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Shaynus's picture

How did they obfuscate anything? They are revealing more of their plan than they did last month, and they will discuss more plans when appropriate (as evidenced by the new communications strategy). I think they're clear on the intended purpose, which a statement of vision and direction, not a plan. If you're aghast that they didn't give you all the plan on your time frame, then the "pompous" problem isn't there's.

Don Johnson's picture

Well, I think this argument is an argument about nothing at the end of the day. I'll be happy to quit anytime now. A few responses to your last, though.

Shaynus wrote:
How did they obfuscate anything? They are revealing more of their plan than they did last month

The language of the 'vision statement' thingie is typical of the bafflegab we see in corporate/governmental bureaucratic mumbo jumbo land. That's what I mean by obfuscation.

As far as revealing more of their plan... well, what was announced that isn't already basically known? Does anyone think they don't have a plan, that heretofore everything has been reactionary/seat of the pants management? BJU wouldn't have lasted its over 80 years now if that was the case.

Shaynus wrote:
If you're aghast that they didn't give you all the plan on your time frame, then the "pompous" problem isn't there's.

Look, I don't care if they announce their plan to me. Doesn't matter. I just object to making an announcement, basically, about nothing, and everyone oohing and ahhing as if something wonderful and new has just been revealed.

Remember, I am a BJU loyalist. I generally support the university and Dr Bob in particular tooth and nail. But I do think this kind of vague corporate-speak doesn't accomplish much.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

BryanBice's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
Sounds like someone is getting exceedingly skilled in bafflegab.

I don't see how sounding pompous is a step forward.

I neither perceived the document as "bafflegab," nor did I find it reeking with an air of pomposity. Instead, I read something from BJU that, for the first time, let's me know I can expect some clear, maybe even drastic, changes over the next five years. I welcome not only the publication of the document, but the entire process that led to it. Kudos to Stephen for leading this initiative.

Frankly, Don, your comments come across as if you neither understand the process the administration et. al. is going through nor the purpose of such a document.

Shaynus's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
The language of the 'vision statement' thingie is typical of the bafflegab we see in corporate/governmental bureaucratic mumbo jumbo land. That's what I mean by obfuscation.

So in defining what you mean by obfuscation, you say it's just like "bureaucratic mumbo jumbo land." Kinda circular. What is being obfuscated other than they're not showing all their cards right now, which is their right?

Don Johnson wrote:
Remember, I am a BJU loyalist. I generally support the university and Dr Bob in particular tooth and nail. But I do think this kind of vague corporate-speak doesn't accomplish much.

If you support Dr. Bob in particular, then you probably wouldn't like this vision statement on sheer style. Nothing against him, but the University is basically implying that in the past, they didn't communicate with internal and external audiences well. I can't see how anyone with intimate knowledge of BJU would dispute this implication. It's one thing, Don, to say you don't like the new style of their communication. But it's another to accuse them of being pompous with no grounds. Blunt instruments often do more damage than they intend.

Don Johnson's picture

Hi Brian

I am sure I don't understand the process. Do I need to?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Robert Byers's picture

Just from the historical standpoint, an organization wanting to promote a new era of openness might wish to avoid calling their ideas Five Year Plans. Smile

Shaynus's picture

Robert Byers wrote:
Just from the historical standpoint, an organization wanting to promote a new era of openness might wish to avoid calling their ideas Five Year Plans. Smile

LOL! Dear Leader no like you bring up painfilled past! Trust five year plan every time!

Mike Durning's picture

Robert Byers wrote:
Just from the historical standpoint, an organization wanting to promote a new era of openness might wish to avoid calling their ideas Five Year Plans. Smile

Robert, shame on you! It is appropriate that glasnost be practiced concerning the perestroika. 5 years is about right for the first phase. Wink

No criticism of BJU's document is intended here. Just playing along with Robert's observation.

To Don, I get what you're saying. They give a structure change that promotes changes, but not the changes themselves. As such, this document could sound like bureaucratese to some.

But I think the acknowledgement that they are going to change they way they change things is a major accomplishment. My feeling has always been that the institutional inertia at BJU kept them from making adjustments that would have benefited the school, the students, the faculty, the staff, the movement, and the cause of Christ. Delegating decision-making power in non-fundamental areas to people you trust to make those changes is always better than making changes with glacial slowness from the top down.

JGreen's picture

They really didn't say anything specific. I am with Don that it was a lot of high-level gobbleygook. I am curious to see how they implement their "changes". I suspect that this has more to do with their long term survival than anything else. Enrollment is declining and they need to find a way to remain viable.

In a culture where change is feared, saying that you will change is a big step in the right direction. Doing it however, may prove to be extremely difficult. They had better do a great job of explaining the "changes" (and the reasons behind those changes) to the churches which feed their university. If they don't get buy-in, they run the risk of losing support from the pastors and in turn losing students.

Don Johnson's picture

You said what I am trying to say, but much better, especially the first paragraph. I hadn't thought much about your second paragraph, but it is correct also, in my opinion.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Mike Durning's picture

JGreen wrote:
Enrollment is declining and they need to find a way to remain viable.

Why?

1. Many churches and pastors are seeing fewer and fewer reasons to exclusively send their young adults to Fundamentalist institutions as opposed to a mix of Fundamentalist, Conservative Evangelical, and even, in some cases, Secular schools.

2. On the opposite end, the most conservative/reactionary elements that self-identify with the name "Fundamentalist" are more comfortable with the far right schools (KJVO, or at least TR/Majority text; strong commitment to the Fundy Fixin's too).

3. And then there is the drag of distance learning options. Why go away, when you can stay at your church that is working well for you, take some classes at the community college, and the Christian stuff on-line?

The first is doubtless what President Jones is trying to address. The 2nd is not solvable -- BJU is not that and is incapable of appealing to that set (nor would it be honest of them to try). The 3rd is one they are addressing, by offering their own distance learning programs.

The challenges that the big Fundamentalist schools face are larger than just making themselves more palatable to today's Fundamentalist young person. They have to carve out a place for themselves in the new environment of the "Emerging Middle". Few will choose their school because the movement leaders tell them too. They will need to be convinced that the school represents what they believe, will teach them well, and will give them credentials that are usable in their field. If there are "quirks" of the particular school (think "Fine Arts" at BJU, for example), the potential student will have to be convinced either that they have value or that the benefits outweigh having to put up with that emphasis. Standing strong on dress codes (for one example) will not be a sufficient selling point anymore.

In the end, though, distance learning poses a difficulty for all brick and mortar schools. While the distance learning model has many shortcomings (and is unworkable in some fields, like neurosurgery), it will prevail. The important thing will not be what school you studied at, but what professors you studied under. Barring a collapse of the power grids of Western Civilization, all of these schools will change radically in the decades to come. It is mind-boggling to contemplate even now that some schools that once would never have graduated a student over whose life they did not have complete control for a few years now will graduate a student they've never met until graduation week.

Shaynus's picture

Great post Mike.

As social media and the Internet grow, the influence of a local pastor on where the church kids go to school will decrease. You may like that or not. It may be good or bad. But schools like BJU will have to engage in more direct marketing to students and be less reliant on pastors to push kids to a particular school.

In the end, influence beats control. I think BJU will do better at influencing decisions for enrollment as the plan is worked out.

Dan Burrell's picture

Mike Durning wrote:
JGreen wrote:
Enrollment is declining and they need to find a way to remain viable.

Why?

1. Many churches and pastors are seeing fewer and fewer reasons to exclusively send their young adults to Fundamentalist institutions as opposed to a mix of Fundamentalist, Conservative Evangelical, and even, in some cases, Secular schools.

2. On the opposite end, the most conservative/reactionary elements that self-identify with the name "Fundamentalist" are more comfortable with the far right schools (KJVO, or at least TR/Majority text; strong commitment to the Fundy Fixin's too).

3. And then there is the drag of distance learning options. Why go away, when you can stay at your church that is working well for you, take some classes at the community college, and the Christian stuff on-line?

The first is doubtless what President Jones is trying to address. The 2nd is not solvable -- BJU is not that and is incapable of appealing to that set (nor would it be honest of them to try). The 3rd is one they are addressing, by offering their own distance learning programs.

Mike....I think you made a very fine assessment here, but if I could push back on one point.

As one who has lived in the backyard of BJU for most of the last decade and who has honestly encouraged students to give it a look, I can tell you that they ARE viewed as one of the "far right schools" -- not because of a KJVO position, but because of their music position -- something that matters far more to the typical college-aged kid than textual issues. I don't see it or understand the mentality as I'm not one who is particularly drawn to music of any kind. But for today's generation, it IS a big deal and the horror stories of music checks, being campused for unauthorized music, etc... do make their rounds among kids in churches that might be inclined to support BJU. For all the positive things that BJ has to offer, it makes me sad that the music issue has become such a barrier to a significant portion of each potential freshman class. So while they may not be viewed by those on this side of an education as an extreme fundamentalist school in the category of Hyles-Anderson or one of it's clone schools, it appears to me that those on the other side of the college experience might see it differently. I realize that in the view of many, this is a standard worth sacrificing for in order to maintain separatist and philosophical purity. I see it differently and wish it wasn't such a wall to overcome when offering guidance to graduating high schoolers who generally think superficially and with an exaggerated sense of immediacy and self-centeredness as they choose a school.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Mike Durning's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:
Mike....I think you made a very fine assessment here, but if I could push back on one point.

As one who has lived in the backyard of BJU for most of the last decade and who has honestly encouraged students to give it a look, I can tell you that they ARE viewed as one of the "far right schools" -- not because of a KJVO position, but because of their music position -- something that matters far more to the typical college-aged kid than textual issues. I don't see it or understand the mentality as I'm not one who is particularly drawn to music of any kind. But for today's generation, it IS a big deal and the horror stories of music checks, being campused for unauthorized music, etc... do make their rounds among kids in churches that might be inclined to support BJU. For all the positive things that BJ has to offer, it makes me sad that the music issue has become such a barrier to a significant portion of each potential freshman class. So while they may not be viewed by those on this side of an education as an extreme fundamentalist school in the category of Hyles-Anderson or one of it's clone schools, it appears to me that those on the other side of the college experience might see it differently. I realize that in the view of many, this is a standard worth sacrificing for in order to maintain separatist and philosophical purity. I see it differently and wish it wasn't such a wall to overcome when offering guidance to graduating high schoolers who generally think superficially and with an exaggerated sense of immediacy and self-centeredness as they choose a school.

I was thinking that, but I didn't want to turn this into yet another music thread -- which seems to be the great SI black hole. Let music be mentioned, and the thread slowly revolves more and more tightly around the music issue singularity, until it can never escape the topic.

But, since you've started down that road...

Change in this area would be helpful to the school, and to BJU's credibility. The same is true of all the Fundamentalist schools.
When we hold a position up as "Bible truth" that is not found in the Bible, it makes us look ignorant. It certainly calls into question our objectivity.
BJU already suffers from the history of trying to preach against interracial dating and marriage as though they were Bible-based teachings. They are not unique in that, but they are unique in how long they held onto that teaching.
Musically, it is time to acknowledge that some standards that have been preached in these institutions (and out of them) are not well-founded Biblically.

Before you paint me as a radical, everyone, let me state my position on music. That way you're not attacking me in ignorance.
1). I don't believe in the slippery slope. They could make some changes in this area without bringing in Stryper for Vespers. A position well-founded in Scripture is an unassailable position, and stable. One based in tradition is a dinosaur.
2). I don't believe in the elitist musicologist magisterium. If the reason for a form of music being evil is completely inaccessible to someone without a Masters in Fine Arts, it cannot be valid Biblically. A believer under the leadership of the Holy Spirit reading the Word ought to be able to understand the standard, or it's not in the Bible.
3). I don't believe in the typical uses of the word "worldly" or "fleshly". If these are not defined Biblically, you end up with standards on music and life that ultimately are derived from the same wells as monasticism or the Amish movement.
4). I agree it is easy to go way too far in changing a church or an institution to modern music -- not because it becomes too modern, but because the agenda that drives such changes is as ill-founded Biblically as some of the silliest reasons given against modern music.
5). I believe it is time for the Bible faculty to lead on such issues, rather than the Music faculty. They Bible faculty should say "Just shut up and compose. We'll tell you whether or not a particular obscure Hebrew word is really about the Rock beat.
6). I believe that God appointed the local church as the Pillar and Ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). He did not appoint the Bible College, University, or Seminary. So the churches should tell the colleges "Shut up and teach. We'll tell you what music we're going to use in our church."

Kevin Subra's picture

My concern for any institution, especially "para-church" institutions (which in my mind have a hard time justifying their own existence, which may be why the struggle to exist), is summarized in Bauder's latest article:

"As [Christian ] institutions become more concerned with markets than with real effectiveness, they unavoidably make choices that are designed not so much to help students as to appeal to them. These choices, if widely adopted and fully implemented, will almost certainly prove disastrous in the long run." - Kevin T. Bauder (With Gratitude, http://sharperiron.org/article/with-gratitude)

Schools NEED students, and thus NEED accreditation (for financial benefit indirectly provided by the government), and thus NEED to do things that take them farther and farther away from their intended focus. It is not wrong to plan, to change, to wisely adjust. It is wrong to do so just to survive as a non-church institution trying to do the job of the church (at least part of its purpose). Bring back the church.

The goal of educational institutions should be the good of society (from God's perspective), not survival for survival's sake. If the paradigm of formal training institutions is fading because of technology (you can learn from "the greats" by book, audio, even video) without the cost, etc. why see that as a demise of a good thing?

Scattered thoughts. Hopefully some worthwhile.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Mike Durning wrote:

6). I believe that God appointed the local church as the Pillar and Ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). He did not appoint the Bible College, University, or Seminary. So the churches should tell the colleges "Shut up and teach. We'll tell you what music we're going to use in our church."

While I believe the era of the traditional classroom is near its end, I think the above illustrates one of the misguided premises on which many college policies are founded- and that is the idea that young people in college still require parenting. Of course, basic guidelines are needed for purposes of efficiency, safety, etc... but too often there is an effort to indoctrinate young people into a certain mindset (that is extra-Biblical) rather than give them the info and let them decide for themselves. If one of the church's main functions is to equip the saints, young people should already have a good set of theology tools before they step foot into academia. Wait until they are 18, and that horse has most likely left the corral.

Mike Durning's picture

Kevin Subra wrote:
My concern for any institution, especially "para-church" institutions (which in my mind have a hard time justifying their own existence, which may be why the struggle to exist), is summarized in Bauder's latest article:

"As [Christian ] institutions become more concerned with markets than with real effectiveness, they unavoidably make choices that are designed not so much to help students as to appeal to them. These choices, if widely adopted and fully implemented, will almost certainly prove disastrous in the long run." - Kevin T. Bauder (With Gratitude, http://sharperiron.org/article/with-gratitude)

Schools NEED students, and thus NEED accreditation (for financial benefit indirectly provided by the government), and thus NEED to do things that take them farther and farther away from their intended focus. It is not wrong to plan, to change, to wisely adjust. It is wrong to do so just to survive as a non-church institution trying to do the job of the church (at least part of its purpose). Bring back the church.

The goal of educational institutions should be the good of society (from God's perspective), not survival for survival's sake. If the paradigm of formal training institutions is fading because of technology (you can learn from "the greats" by book, audio, even video) without the cost, etc. why see that as a demise of a good thing?

Scattered thoughts. Hopefully some worthwhile.

Scattered perhaps, but astute and brilliant. It is the same phenomenon that drives the Church Growth Movement toward the bizarre extremes to which they go. It does endanger our classrooms.

But accountability is good. Say it again: Accountability is good. The fact that the churches (and spiritual leaders in particular) now have a voice via blogs and places like SI can let those schools know when they are not looking at things askew. I hope the changes will be driven by insightful, Biblical constructive criticism and not desperate self-preservation.

Mike Durning's picture

Susan R wrote:
Mike Durning wrote:

6). I believe that God appointed the local church as the Pillar and Ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). He did not appoint the Bible College, University, or Seminary. So the churches should tell the colleges "Shut up and teach. We'll tell you what music we're going to use in our church."

While I believe the era of the traditional classroom is near its end, I think the above illustrates one of the misguided premises on which many college policies are founded- and that is the idea that young people in college still require parenting. Of course, basic guidelines are needed for purposes of efficiency, safety, etc... but too often there is an effort to indoctrinate young people into a certain mindset (that is extra-Biblical) rather than give them the info and let them decide for themselves. If one of the church's main functions is to equip the saints, young people should already have a good set of theology tools before they step foot into academia. Wait until they are 18, and that horse has most likely left the corral.

Excellent. If I ever encouraged a student from our church to BJU without him or her already having a well-defined Biblical ethic on such matters, I would be ashamed.

Dan Burrell's picture

Mike, Susan and Kevin...you ALL make excellent points. The Bauder quote was right on target as well.

Mike, your six points on music should be expanded into a front page SI article. That was right on the money!

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

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