The Relevance Partnership*

To assure relevance, education has to be a partnership between college and community. In a capstone business class, for example, the community may be represented by experienced practitioners who serve as both coaches and clients. The college is represented by students and faculty. Both faculty and practitioners, then, could coach students, helping them to apply newly learned business concepts and provide fresh perspective on existing business problems for organizational clients. We call such a class “Org Consulting.”

The syllabus looks like this:

  • Student teams meet with faculty at least once per week.
  • Before a semester begins, faculty and clients outline the scope and “deliverables” of a consulting project.
  • Once the semester begins, students are introduced to clients and continue the negotiation on the “statement of work” with help from faculty.
  • Students then meet with practitioner coaches to review the situation and get advice on “tightening up” the statement of work, including their problem statement and approach (research plan/methodology) to collect data to solve the problem, and what the students will provide the client at the end of the semester.
  • Student teams then seek approval of the statement of work from the client.
  • Halfway through the semester the student teams meet with their practitioner coaches to review the status of their methodology and hypotheses regarding the underlying problem (that is, their diagnosis of the problem underlying the problem statement) and solution strategies).
  • The student teams then meet with their client to review their progress, share their findings, and test their underlying diagnosis and solution strategies.
  • At the end of the semester the student teams meet one last time with client with their practitioners coaches in attendance to tell the story from problem statement to diagnose to solution strategy to implementation plan. The client and practitioner coaches (the community) then provide evaluation feedback for the faculty and students.

To assure relevance, education has to be a partnership between college and community.

*Special thanks to great students, coaches (Aaron, Cal, Jim, Seth, Virgil) and clients (Jordan Vande Kamp(AppProvider), Ryan Hesslau (foreverU), Chicago Semester, Palos Area Chamber of Commerce, Providence Bank & Trust, Providence Life Services, Royal Oak Landscaping) for a great Fall, 2016 Semester!

Who Is START Consulting?

START Consulting is a “dream team” of Trinity Christian College students working under the auspices of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Empowerment. Some are Bachelor of Science students majoring in Accounting, Entrepreneurial Management, Human Resource Management, Finance, or Marketing who already have project experience because it is part of their major. Others seeking advanced business experience are students majoring in Art, Communication, Computer Science, Digital Design, English, etc. who assist as needed.

All are project-based learners with a passion for learning and serving collaboratively.

Why Do They Do It?

We are called and endowed by God to do good work. Trinity Business faculty and alums empower students to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling to do that work through personal, practical, and professional education. START Consulting provides advanced learning that pushes students even further.

How Do They Do It?

START Consultants are coached by experts: practitioners and scholars. We learn from a healthy, holistic mix of perspectives across disciplines, experience levels, and generations, the kind of mix that results in creative ideas.

What Do They Do?

START Consultants work as a team on projects for for-profit and non-profit organizations. Their work involves collecting primary and secondary research and analysis, developing marketing strategies, and creating implementation plans. They help client firms explore new markets and new product ideas or help them see old ones in new ways. They think outside the box because they don’t see the box. They facilitate innovation.

 

Speed Interviewing

 

Speed Interviewing is a accessible and effective venue for students to learn from alums.

The event works like this: instructors of introduction to business courses form student teams around common career aspirations and alums in those careers are invited and assigned to be interviewed by student teams.  In under an hour student teams interview alums in 15-minute intervals for a total of three rounds.

Why do instructors do it?  To help introduce students to business disciplines (accounting, entrepreneurial management, finance, marketing, etc) and organizational culture from the perspective of people who practice those disciplines as a career and even calling.  Why do instructors do that?  Ultimately to empower students to better understand themselves and organizational culture so that they can better envision what life after college looks like so they can make more informed decisions about their academic program and career expectations.

But Speed Interviewing is only the beginning of our learning.

Here are examples of the questions students ask:

  • What type of work do you do?
  • What skills are especially needed to do your work well?
  • What did you major in at Trinity?  How did that help you with the work you do?
  • How would you describe your career path?
  • How would you characterize your leadership style?
  • How would you characterize the culture of your organization?
  • What advice do you have for current students?

 

Soul Entrepreneurship

By Richard J. Goossen and R. Paul Stevens (2013):

“Note the significant dimensions of Christian spirituality.

  • First, it starts with the initiative of a loving God who is seeking a relationship with his creatures.
  • Second, spirituality then is not our attempt to ascend to God by spiritual practices or to discover our own internal divinity, but takes the form of ‘recognition and response.’
  • Third, the result of this responsiveness to seeking God is not that we become angels or religious persons, but more fully human….
  • Fourth, spirituality then is not a once-for-all event but a continuous process that is concrete but never finished.
  • Fifth, the practical outworking of this spirituality is that we align ourselves with God’s intention for his creation, which is the kingdom or pervasive and life-bringing rule of God on earth.  Creating wealth and bringing well-being to people is part of this….
  • Finally, this spirituality is not cultivating extraordinary experiences but rather the infiltration of ordinary life with kingdom justice and holiness” (pp. 64, 65).

“Life, for biblical persons, is total and cannot be segmented into two parts: a disposable and normally evil shell (the body), and an indestructible spirit core (the soul).  Thus the familiar psalm ‘Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name’ (Psalm 103:1) may be simply and helpfully translated “Praise the Lord, with my whole life!’” (pp. 65, 66).

“Most significant of all, the New Testament hope is not for the immortality of the soul–an essentially Greek concept that involves disparaging the body as a useless encumbrance to the life of the spirit.  Instead, the great hope in Christ after death is the resurrection of the body–full personal and expressive life in a new heaven and a new earth” (p. 66).

“When we receive Christ, we get saved, not just our souls in the Greek sense.  This is a two-stage process.  First, our souls, our inner and longing persons, are substantially saved by being inundated by God’s Spirit, thus giving us new bodily and personal life on earth.  Second, after our death and when Christ comes again, we are given a new and perfect embodiment  through the resurrection of our entire selves, bodies included” (p. 67).

Soul Entrepreneurship

  • “First, it means you go to work as a whole person — not just mind or body, but all that inner yearning and expressiveness that links us with God….
  • Second, as soul persons with capacity to relate to God, we are given ideas, visions and perspectives that can be implemented through entrepreneurial activity.  These may be in the area of church life but also in family life and enterprises in the world….
  • Third, our actual experiences of envisioning, inventing and implementing as entrepreneurs are an arena of spiritual growth….
  • Fourth, being a soul person (and a whole person) means being relationally alive through love.  We are most godlike in relationships….
  • Finally, Christian spirituality and its recognition of a soul dimension to human life and work means that personal growth is not a human achievement (through disciplines and practices) but a response to the Spirit’s initiative….Christian spirituality is…God’s empowering presence calling human beings into dynamic relation and expressiveness” (pp. 68, 69).

The Workplace is the Primary Place for Spiritual Formation

“The marketplace is a location for spiritual formation in three ways.

  • First, it is the place where we get revealed as persons.  Our inside is revealed by what we do outside, bu the way we work, by our relationships with people, by the realities of how we go about doing day to day enterprise….
  • Second, the seven deadly sins, seven soul-sapping struggles that include pride, greed, lust, anger, envy, sloth, and gluttony, are revealed not in quiet times and prayer retreats but in the thick of life, in business meetings, as we struggle over this month’s sales, when we have to deal with an awkward customer or employee….
  • But there is a third reason….The work we do, if it is good work, is some part of God’s own work in creating, sustaining, transforming or consummating (bringing things to a good conclusion).  We are actually partners with God in our daily work” (pp. 70, 71).

The Grand Narrative

The Bible describes the meta-narrative of God’s grand work in the history of the world: creation-fall-redemption. These historical themes apply to the entire created universe.

  • “God created all things good. Humans, elephants, trees, rocks, sand, stars—they were all created in a wonderful harmony. This includes [business]. The cultural mandate [found in Genesis 1:28] implies that God built the potential for [business] into the creation. God created humans in His own image, and so the creativity and ingenuity necessary to [engage in business] comes as a gift from God. He also endowed creation with the natural resources necessary for [business]—wood, metal, silicon, electricity, and more.
  • “By man’s choice, represented in the Adam and Eve, sin entered the world. The fall affected every part of creation. Even [business] is stained by sin. The goodness built in from creation is still present, but warped and darkened by sin.
  • “In the third era of history, Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection broke the power of sin and provided redemption to those that have faith. Believers in Christ Jesus have forgiveness of sins through Christ. Christians in the Reformed tradition stress that Christ’s redemptive light shines not only on our own souls, but on all creation. Christ’s rule and His kingdom stretch from shore to shore of the entire universe” (Quentin J. Schultze, Communicating for Life: Christian Stewardship in Community and Media, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000, 118–121).

communicating for life

Thus, in whatever role we play we must uncover, practice, expand upon, and celebrate the good and minimize the evil in God’s creation.  Our goal is to be in Christ and be Christ-like in the world.  As Abraham Kuyper famously said:

abraham kuyper

“Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”James D. Bratt, ed., Abraham Kuyper, A Centennial Reader, p. 488.

In the end God will re-reconcile all of creation to himself.  In the meantime, we are called to be co-workers with him in making the world as he intended it to be.  This work not only blesses others, it makes us more spiritually mature. Holy.  Morally sanctified.

Imagine a world in which each person is empowered to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling for the benefit of others for God’s glory!

It begins with relationships.

Grand words.

The Grand Narrative.

 

The Meaning of Life

Sometimes we forget to ask the big questions.

Why are we here?

Here are some answers from Everybody Loves Raymond: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZb4jBE0Gr0

Why are we here?

Here are some thoughts from Called to be Saints:

“Jesus assures his followers that in him they will find life abundant, surely echoing this wonderful line from Psalm 1 that they will be like trees planted by streams of water.  What are the contours and what is the character of this abundant life?  What is the good life for which we were created and to which we were called?  What are the indicators of a life well lived?  To what end were we created?  And thus, to what end have we been saved? (p. 14).

The Call for Transformation — to be Perfect, to be Holy

“[An] articulation of the call to spiritual maturity can and ideally should be inherent in each dimension of the church’s life and ministry…” (p. 17).

“The Old Testament is essentially the account of a God who forms for himself a people who are specifically called to be holy” (p. 17).

“Jesus uses language that makes some readers uncomfortable; he speaks of perfection (p. 18).

“When we view the human vocation and sanctification from the vantage point of creation, we see the human vocation as fulfillment of creation.  To be complete in Christ, to be ‘perfect,’ is quite simply to be what one was created to be” (p. 19).

“The biblical vision is a life lived in radical dependence on God and in deep mutual interdependence with others” (p. 25).

“Our theology of the Christian life must take account of how suffering…a means by which God forms and purifies us” (p. 31).

“A holy person is a wise person.  A holy person does good work. A holy person lives in a manner consistent with how God has loved us. A holy person is a happy person” (p. 36).

The Christian Life

“[The] Christian life is defined as knowing or gaining Christ, and this ‘knowledge’ is not a reference to intellectual understanding but to an experiential encounter with Christ.  Paul used the language of to know in the same way it is used to refer to intimacy in marriage — we know Christ intimately” (p. 42).

“[Our] transformation is both an external transaction, by Christ and for us, and also a participation in the life of Christ Jesus…” (p. 45).

“And so evangelism is about fostering and cultivating the opportunities for a person to meet Jesus: to meet Christ Jesus in real time.  in the end it is all about Jesus.  It is not persuading [others] of certain truths or laws, or even about believif ng that Jesus has done something — that if they ‘believe’ it will lead to their ‘salvation.”  It is rather about meeting Christ Jesus in person and in real time.  Thus the church is nothing other than the place where there is a ‘Christological concentration:’  people who in worship and mission are about Jesus.  That is their passion and focus and commitment.  And as you join them in worship and in mission, in time you too will come to know this living Christ” (p. 57).

Summary

Why are we here?  What is the meaning of life?

Transformation = Sanctification = Meditating on God’s Will = Becoming Dependent on God = Participation in the Life of Christ = Becoming Holy = Flourishing = Happiness

Our E-Club Foundation

Last night at the E-Club event the Future Founders Foundation (http://futurefounders.com/about/) gave its FFScholars awards for participation in entrepreneurial efforts during the 2015/2016 school year. TCC was the initial partner with FFF in offering this program.Award winners from Trinity included: Anthony Dykstra, Platinum; Dyvon Melling, Platinum; Ryan Hesslau, Gold; Tanner VanMaanen, Gold; Tyler Schneider, Gold; Jordan VanderKamp, Silver; Casey Huisenga, Silver; Azariah Pargulski, Blue; Craig Vandergalien, Blue; Keegan VanMaanen, White; Zack Austell, White; Cynthia Gliwa, White; Sarah Kooiman, White; Jared Mulder, White; Katlen Siwinski, White.  In addition, Tony Dykstra was given the Outstanding Leadership Award.

Congrats!

And thanks to Kyle Harkema and Rick Hamilton for coaching and connecting Future Founders to Trinity.

A great foundation!

Transformative Learning

By Gordon T. Smith

“[The] crux of the matter, the heart of the issue, is that Christian institutions — colleges and universities of higher learning — have the potential to offer transformative learning” (p. 219).

“The greatest value that higher education offers the world — whether for the marketplace or the church — is wise men and women of mature character who are capable of providing vibrant moral leadership” (p. 220).

“I propose that we can say to a prospective student, this is what we hope for you and long for you and offer to you.  This is what we are about.  This is what it means to be part of this academic community, this university, this seminary.

  • You will grow in wisdom and in your capacity for wisdom.
  • You will mature in your vocational identity and calling, and you will receive the inner tools and resources for a lifetime of vocational discernment.
  • We will grow together in love and in our capacity for love, even as we are loved.
  • You will become a happier person: you will know the joy of God, but more, you will grow in your capacity for joy” (p. 222).