Last week at the vision and strategy meeting we explained how our mission as a school has been restated (not changed) to be, “The goal of Fortis Academy is to develop Christian thinkers and communicators.” Everything we are doing at Fortis is being aligned toward that goal. We believe that this goal is not only the very best we can give to our children, but that it is something that would be good to offer to many children for generations. This raises the question of how do we establish Fortis Academy as a school which will have enduring impact? The answer is to put systems in place that consistently deliver the highest quality academic education possible. Because Fortis Academy has a genuine commitment to discipleship, such language may seem to some to be inverting the priorities of our school by putting academics first. Let’s think about the goal of Fortis to raise up Christian thinkers and communicators. We cannot do this if we do not have students. We can gather people around an idea, sense of community or personalities, but those are shaky foundations for an institution that seeks to be established for generations. The only way to succeed in such a school is around charismatic personalities. A school that has systems in place that consistently deliver high-quality academic results will always have a waiting list for students, and therefore always be able to develop Christian thinkers and communicators. A friend of mine in Burkina Faso has Muslims sending their children to his Christian school because they recognize the quality of education. The point is that by putting systems in place that deliver high-quality academics, the success of the school becomes independent from any individual. That is what we want.
Having said all of that, I also suggest that setting up systems that consistently deliver high-quality academic results is also an expression of being a Christian thinker, is an act of worship for those whose God given calling is the education of children and models the type of education we are trying to give our children. Christian thinkers recognize that wisdom comes from God and that every system that works is making use of principles that God has put in creation. Modern Christianity often distances itself from such wisdom and by doing so has produced a form of Christianity that fails to impact the modern world. Every discipline that deals with truth is working in the realm of God’s creation, and that includes persuasive communication and psychology. Marketing, for example, makes use of such disciplines and influences peoples’ decisions. Many today automatically assume that marketing is bad because it is manipulative. If we take a step back, everything in this world that makes use of principles God has put in creation has an incredible, but neutral, potential power. The deciding factor on whether it will be put to good or evil use is the ethics and character of those using them. One of the goals of a Fortis education is to teach people the wisdom that makes them powerful and the virtue that makes them responsible. Putting systems in place that deliver consistent high-quality academic results while developing Christian thinkers and communicators models the goal of a Fortis education.