too big to fail?

An article in the July Christian Chronicle looks at tenuous condition of three mainline CofC colleges.  (Some Disciples schools are going through the same thing.)

An excerpt:

But Shelly said the list sends a message to Christians in the wake of the recent closing of Church of Christ-associated Cascade College in Portland, Ore.

“All of us know the value that Christian colleges have added to the evangelistic outreach of Churches of Christ in different parts of the country where they are known,” Shelly said. “We just can’t let any more of them collapse.”

Now, obviously, all of these colleges are tiny in terms of undergraduate enrollment — none of them top a thousand, none of them are really even close.  But Shelly’s lament doesn’t seem to be directed toward the fortunes of his particular school (and, really, the specific financial state of these particular schools is not what interests me about this article), so much as toward the entire dream/mindset/whatever behind the parachurch superstructure that has grown up in mainline Churches of Christ and, now, apparently, must be supported.  (Visions of AIG, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers are dancing in my head.)

The grand, triumphalistic (and ironically parochial) dream that sustained the establishment of these schools, and the supply of ready congregational cash that supported them, in the mid-twentieth century, has dried up — or so it would seem — at the dawn of the twenty-first century.  What if, in the midst of an economy that is not recovering, and a shrinking donor pool to support these schools, mainline churches are forced to give up on institutional maintenance and look to other, more primitive ways of educating their children?  It’s obviously not to the immediate benefit of college presidents like Shelly — and others stuck in the institutional maintenance mindset — to do this kind of imagining.  But it may be forced upon them.

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3 responses to “too big to fail?

  1. First off, I’m not sure how to take a college president who speaks to journalists in phrases like, “out of whack” and “double whammy.”

    Second, whatever happened to, “we are not the church”? It seems it has become, “we are not the church, but we’re pretty darn useful for evangelism, so send us your money.” Where have I heard of that before?

  2. Perhaps the second-most pernicious doctrine Satan has deceived us with is that providing a secular education is a job of the church.

    The most, IMO, is that Christianity is something that one inherits. We see both at work in the article above.

  3. Thanks for perceptive comments above.

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