... Given the breadth and degree of financial challenges Christian schools experience I have taken some time recently to focus on the larger picture. This broader focus reveals an industry under siege by the consequences of decisions made years ago by well-meaning boards of directors, competition from homeschooling and charter schools, and cultural changes both inside of and external to the church. Yes, thankfully there are thriving schools and churches that are financially successful, but most Christian schools and many churches find themselves fighting for financial sustainability in a series of slowly cascading economic circumstances.
I have the benefit of seeing the industry through the lens of thirty years of commercial banking experience. This experience tells me that while more and more entities are vying for their “piece of the pie,” the pie itself is shrinking. The cultural stress on our society reduces the perceived need for Christian education of all types and the cast of providers now includes homeschooling cooperatives and charter schools in many states. Traditional educators find it difficult to compete with the well-established homeschooling group and competing with charter schools is even more challenging given their financial underpinning by the government.
My banking experience taught me that being an early adapter is fraught with risk. Consequently, I tend to observe from the sidelines until the evidence of lasting change is overwhelming. The evidence I have observed in recent years in Christian education screams loudly the fact that in many “markets,” the traditional Christian education model is no longer financially sustainable.
... Yes, traditional Christian education remains viable in most markets in most of the country. That being said, however, the financial tension in the industry must be met with inventive solutions if many of our Christian schools are to survive. One such solution involves tweaking the model to one including “university model” scheduling to attract homeschoolers and other students with unusual time constraints for various reasons..Read More