My son is a student at Arizona State University (ASU).   Having been residents of Arizona for 10 years, we have watched ASU go from having a “questionable” reputation to being a well respected, nationally ranked university.  How did this happen through a decade of downturn and uncertainty?  In this video, ASU President Dr. Michael Crow talks about his innovative approach that directed the turn-around of this University – which is now the largest in America.

As I watched, I couldn’t help but note what I saw as several relevant connections to the Church in America today.  See if these sentiments seem applicable to today’s Church leadership to you:

To have institutions that are static means then that at some point that our dynamism will be greatly reduced.

We became self satisfied at our achievement of success (of being highly selective on who we admit)

We needed to be excellent and grow at the same time.

How do we become deeply committed to the community?

We want to be driven by the desire to serve.

Most universities have become implementers of traditions that they can’t even explain why they exist.

We’ve decided to take innovation and adaptation and make that equal to or more important than tradition.  Not eliminating the traditions but just not making them the driver.

Bring these disciplines together because we know that if we can bring these together we can solve problems in ways that hadn’t previously even been able to think of them.

We will not be separate from society. We’re not interested in separation.  We’re interested in service.

You can’t be of service if you are separated. (no more ivory tower).

Can be innovative and adaptive

How can we make our impact greater?

The question and challenge for us church leaders is are we willing to admit that the church as an “institution” is facing many similar “pressure”s as ASU faced – changing economics, changing demographics, changing priorities among the constituents we serve and hope to reach?

Are we willing to make changes to reach people? In ASU’s case, they wanted to reach new students, but they had to change their approach to faculty and admission to do so.  In the church, can we think through how we design our institution so that it can reach new people?  Perhaps we need to change our approach to who we exist for?  What would be the parallel to faculty and admission in the church? How can we embrace “traditions” in the church but not allow them to become the driver in our mission?

Have we become self-satisfied at our current achievements? Do we in the Church tend to think “ivory tower” and separate ourselves from society?   Could we be so bold as to make the firm statement that we “will not be separate from society?”    And are we always asking the question “How can we make our impact greater?”

Food for thought!  May God guide our churches in ways of reaching more and increasing the harvest for Christ’s Kingdom!