Does the church need Christian colleges? Or have Christian colleges passed their “best when used by” date? In “An Open Letter to American Churches: The Crisis of Christian Higher Education,” Chris Gehrz makes an impassioned plea for the church to understand the vital contribution that Christian colleges make to the life and mission of the church. As he provocatively asserts:
“If you want to be missional, you need to support Christian higher education.”
A Growing Financial Crisis
Gehrz is Professor and Chair of History at Bethel University, which has apparently decided to lay off a significant number of faculty in an attempt to address a large budget shortfall. And, of course, Bethel is not alone. Many colleges, both Christian and secular, have their own financial woes, including Calvin College which made the news last spring when it announced a $69.4 million budget gap. As Gehrz points out, 74% of the schools in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities received a grade of C or lower in a recent Forbes study, and 32% were declared “financially unsustainable” in another report. However you slice it, these numbers aren’t encouraging.