Against the Odds – Why a Christian University in the Heart of Nashville is Thriving

Against the Odds – Why a Christian University in the Heart of Nashville is Thriving

As we go into the fall season, I am grateful for the strength of the university that I serve. We are seeing triple digit growth and are breaking all-time records for freshman enrollment, undergraduate enrollment, and total enrollment. The high-water marks of last year will soon trail the new numbers for this year.

Why? If you read articles about colleges, you’ll recognize that this pattern is not the norm. The pundits predict the demise of private Christian colleges. Tennessee has made community college free. Yes, we are competing with free. Everyone says tuition is skyrocketing and is out of control.

Church support for the Christian mission of a university is down. States are trimming funding for college. Many are declaring that a college degree is not worth what it costs, especially in terms of the number of years it takes to pay back a college loan. Liberal arts degrees are under attack as “too general” and “too vague” to offer a skill set that is marketable.

I read this stuff all the time. Most of it has been challenged statistically (and correctly) in studies done by the Council for Independent Colleges (CIC).

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Is College Worth It?

Is College Worth It?

Is college worth it?

This seems to be the big question these days. You know my prejudices before reading the rest of this post. And if I wrote only from the perspective of worldly wisdom, my answer would go like this:

The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else has reached a record high. “According to the new data, which is based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree…. The decision not to attend college for fear that it’s a bad deal is among the most economically irrational decisions anybody could make in 2014.” (David Leonhardt, The Upshot, May 27, 2014) The value of a college education has never been higher. Trevecca students graduate with an average debt less than the price of a mid-sized used car and will go on to earn half-a-million to a million more during their lifetime than their non-degreed peers.

But this answer, while true, bows to the wrong God. Money has been elevated to a position once held by God, the ultimate justifier. President Obama and the US Department of Education are rolling out new requirements that the incomes of college graduates must be tracked for proof that they make money. The one common religion that encompasses the entire world is the pursuit of wealth. Now the only sanctioned reason for going to college is to make more money.

While I am committed to an education that enables a graduate to do great work, I believe the reason for a Christian university is much more radical. We are training cultural and economic missionaries who invade every field of human work with an alternate view of reality. Our graduates believe that the kingdom of God comes as we do the will of the Father on earth as it is done in heaven.

What if there was a college that graduated people marked by the character of God, whose work ethic was driven by their moral values, and whose concern for the neighbor made the world more just and gracious?

What if there was a college that taught its graduates how to make a life?

I went to one. I work at one. It’s called Trevecca. And it’s worth every penny.

Good Bones

Good Bones

Looking for a house is an exhausting endeavor. Having moved a few times, I’ve logged enough hours to reflect. First impression is powerful – a painted front door, open spaces, fragrant aroma. I knew by how a house smelled whether my wife would like it or not. She could sniff a house and know if it would do.  I was never able to talk her into a fixer-upper. It didn’t matter what my “vision of what this could become” was; it just didn’t smell right.

A friend of ours was also looking for a house. As he surveyed the available real estate, he was careful to look beyond the surface features of the house – the paint, the wallpaper, the carpet, the drapes, the smell. He was interested in the foundation and the load bearing walls. I was amused by his insistence that the house have “good bones.” All the rest could be altered, but you live with the structure of the bones.

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A Great Christmas Gift

A Great Christmas Gift

What will you give your teenager for Christmas this year?

As parents of three daughters, Denise and I faced that question many times. And when each daughter reached her senior year, we found ourselves looking at funding the next chapter of her story – college. It would be the largest single expense item that we had encountered to date. Our Christmas savings plan would not cover this gift. What do we do? Do we look for the cheapest option, the live-at-home path, the online alternative? Or do we take a deep breath and consider the kind of formation we are purchasing for our child?

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