About two months ago I was introduced to Joel Gaines, a vice principal at Delaware County Christian School (DC for short) in Newtown Square, PA. In my conversations with Mr. Gaines, Dr. Wiens (Head of School), and other administrators, it was apparent that DC and I shared a vision to see students become rooted in their faith, excel in scholarship, and impact the world for Christ. As we discussed the details of this vision, we agreed that students who study in a diverse learning environment are better equipped to serve the Lord in any capacity they are called.
In America, diversity is often reduced to race or culture, but the diversity that Mr. Gaines and I envisioned for DC is far more vibrant. Convinced that “iron sharpens iron” and most effectively across the lines of difference, (including race, culture, class, gender, and age), our desire is to cultivate a community that is unified in Christ and is therefore able to experience the richness and benefits of true diversity.
With the diversity above in mind, we know that our nation’s history has undermined our ability to be mutually edified across the lines of race and class. During my time at DC, I tried to diagnose structures, ideologies, and practices that prohibited an edifying experience across the race and class divide, but most importantly I was tasked with providing the building blocks and trajectory for an ongoing discussion about these issues among administrators, faculty, students, and parents.
Here is a window into my day at DC; Tuesday, April 28, 2015.
8:30 am – Chapel
I was encouraged to deliver my favorite message to students from Genesis 11:1-9, the Tower of Babel. In the message, I encouraged students to use their God-given gifts to make a name for Christ and not for themselves. Furthermore, God is ultimately glorified by each of the ethnic groups that emerge when the people were scattered because in the kingdom, people from every tribe, tongue, and nation will surround the King’s throne and declare his holiness (Revelation 7)!
9:30 am – Coffee w/ Faculty
I had an excellent informal conversation with faculty from the bible department about social location in biblical interpretation at Starbucks.
11:00 am – Q & A w/ Senior Apologetics Class
I was invited to speak to a class and we discussed the following topics:
- We discuss how to apply the Gospel to the events in Baltimore surrounding the death of Freddie Gray.
- I encouraging the students to view their academic preparation and work as an act of worship. The idea of connecting one’s faith to their work is often spoken of in generalities, but we honed in on specific vocations and connected the dots to our faith. (The content from this portion of the discussion was derived from my forthcoming book on the topic.)
- We discussed intellectual, spiritual, and social challenges that students face in the college environment, and most importantly how to combat them.
12:30 am – Lunch with Vice Principle and Future Assistant Head of School
Along with getting to know each other, our conversation included matters of institutional structure and multicultural development, as well as our personal studies and development.
3:30 pm – Faculty Workshop
This was by far the most significant interaction of the day. If a school has a diversity initiative, but it misses the classroom, then it is a failure because it will always miss the primary purpose of the institution’s existence: education. Thus, time with the faculty was essential because the curriculum comes to life in their teaching.
My presentation was entitled “Seeing through a Glass Dimly.” The talk explored the potential for unity and discord within God’s creative design of humanity. The unity and diversity displayed within the Godhead offers relational, curricular, and pedagogical insights that encourage teachers to equip students for God’s use in an ever-changing world.
7:00 pm – Diversity Committee Meeting
This meeting was a joy; the group of about ten people consisted of administrators, teachers, staff people, and parents. This is a relatively new committee on the DC campus and we discussed their strategic goals for the upcoming academic year. We discussed developing strategic events to promote diversity, cultural immersion experiences, and developing data-driven metrics to measure growth in areas that are often difficult to quantify.
All in all, I truly enjoyed my time at DC and I hope to visit again soon. I was encouraged by my interaction with the school on every level and I’m glad that the Lord has raised up places that are taking the development of students seriously, and are taking bold steps toward manifesting the diversity that surrounds the throne in God’s kingdom.
If you’re interested in exploring a truly Gospel-centered approach to diversity at your university, Bible college, school, or para-church ministry, I’d love to spend some time with you and your organization. For more information about diversity consulting, click here.