Just Imagine What Your School Could Be!

John Lennon’s musical legacy and impact on contemporary culture is far-reaching, to be sure. Perhaps his most enduring contribution to the group-think of our contemporary world view is his hunting humanistic anthem "Imagine." In it, he envisions a world without conflict, greed, borders, war, poverty and division. His solution to achieve this utopian outcome is to eliminate religion, God, and any notion of heaven and hell. He predicts that in this vision which exists only in his imagination, "the world will live as one."

In John 17 as Jesus prays to the Father just before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion he also imagines a world that is marked by love, unity, and oneness. His solution, however, is remarkably different from Lennon’s. For him it's all about his disciples and their love for him and for each other.

As leaders in Christian schools we have the opportunity to contribute intentionally to the outcomes Jesus prayed about there in the Garden of Gethsemane. It requires us to become intentional about the discipleship outcomes in our schools at a whole new level. Most of our schools share the middle name – “Christian.” Perhaps it's time for us to reimagine what Christ envisioned as our role in shaping the hearts and minds of the students that are entrusted to our care.

Imagine with me, what that kind of Christian school could look like....
— Marv Penner
  • Imagine... a staff, faculty and administration united around a shared commitment to making the spiritual well-being of students the highest priority.

  • Imagine... each member of the team conscious of their individual contribution to the discipleship culture on the campus.

  • Imagine... a relational environment that is marked by love, patience, grace, joy, and humility–that students would be consciously aware that this is an unusually positive place and that what they are experiencing could only occur as a result of Christ’s presence.

  • Imagine... a community of parents who understand and embrace the notion of preparing their children to function well in a spiritually broken world instead of merely trying to protect them from it.

  • Imagine... a well-developed curricular discipleship pathway leading students into a deeper personal walk with Christ, a more passionate love for the Scripture, deep theological rootedness, and a clear understanding of their purpose in the Kingdom.

  • Imagine... a commitment to doing ministry “with students” instead of ”to students” and providing leadership development training for all.

  • Imagine... a culture within the student body where personal and spiritual maturity is the highest value and sets the tone for life on the campus.

  • Imagine... a chaplaincy program led by a team of individuals committed to providing pastoral care, spiritual and personal guidance, relevant spiritual events such as chapels, small groups, mentoring programs, and service opportunities.

  • Imagine... a discipleship space designed as a place for spiritual retreat, meaningful conversation, thoughtful reflection, personal prayer and worship, (a sacred space) easily accessible on campus and readily available to students and staff alike.

  • Imagine... a spirit of true collaboration with the many local churches from whom our students come. The sense that the strongest and most effective students in the youth group or children’s ministry are those who are part of our student body.

  • Imagine... a student body committed to serving the needs of their community, the region, and ultimately the world.

  • Imagine... a reputation for producing student graduates who are equipped to defend their faith, share their own faith story, maintain a life of spiritual discipline, and ensure growing faith into their adulthood.

  • Imagine... being the first choice for parents who are serious about sending their sons and daughters into a Christian school environment where they will be assured that the spiritual well-being of their children is the highest priority.

Some of us have lulled ourselves into believing that we can consistently check every one of those boxes. Our experience at IGC, as we go into schools and dig beneath the surface a bit is that all of us have work to do in at least some of these areas in order to achieve the vision that Christ has for our learning communities.

When our "imagining" aligns with his intentions we are able to produce history making world changers who will help transform their communities into what God intended them to be. May he find us faithful!


What could your school be like?

About the Contributor:

Dr. Marv Penner directs All About Youth and the National Center for Excellence in Youth Ministry. In addition to his teaching, speaking and writing, Marv specializes in parent/adolescent conflict resolution, sexual abuse recovery, eating disorders and marriage and family issues. He is the author of several books including Help! My Kids Are Hurting and Hope and Healing for Kids Who Cut.

In addition to his teaching, speaking and writing, Marv is a licensed marriage and family counselor specializing in parent/adolescent conflict resolution, sexual abuse recovery, eating disorders and marriage and family issues. He received his MA degree from Grace Seminary in 1985, and his D.Phil degree from Oxford Graduate School in 1993.

Marv and his wife, Lois, live in British Columbia, Canada, and have three married children.