I’ve just finished my first month at Thrive School looking at, to put it simply, what they do and how they do it. Coming from a large private Christian university where I worked in enrollment for 15 years and having two sons who are recent college graduates, I can honestly say I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to key normative experiences that lead to spiritual maturity, vocational identity, employability, and self-efficacy. All of which are every parent’s dream for their student.
“I don’t want to teach you what to think, I want to teach you how to think.” Yep, you would hear some form of this at most 100 level college course or even on the school’s marketing material. At most Christian higher education institutions, they may even add Augustine’s “All truth is God’s truth” quote to highlight faith integration into their curriculum.
What if along with building critical thinking skills and integrating faith into their subject of interest, your student could also live out Matthew 6:33 – Seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness in their pursuit of a vocation, education, spiritual maturity, and employability? And what if they could do that in a community that combines Biblical theology, praxis (the application of it), and allows them to practice a skill for mastery too? And what if that could be done without saddling them with a lot of student debt so they can actually work within their area of passion when it’s all said and done? That might be the secret sauce to producing Christ followers that will impact their community, the church, the culture, and the world. That might be the best practical theology degree you could ever get. That might just light a fire under Gen Z that can’t be extinguished by this humanistic, pluralistic, and enraged culture.
Thrive School has got me thinking about a new paradigm for Christian higher education, one where theory, praxis, and practice combine to develop people who think, act, love, and lead not as what they DO but who they ARE. It is one that is Biblically based, discipleship focused, service oriented, skill and outcomes based, and academically sound but also accessible and affordable. There are lots of reasons TS is seeing such a strong spiritual ROI in the form of changed lives, but I think Bayside Church is their secret sauce. Aside from taking college classes through a fully accredited Christian university, students are being discipled by practitioners not just theorists. I’m a college professor too, and the truth is that I’m a few years (maybe even decades) removed from the discipline I’m teaching about, and I don’t think I’m unique in that. Thrive students are being discipled and mentored by people who are doing leadership tasks everyday in a world class organization like Bayside Church.
Frederick Buechner said “Go where your best prayer takes you.” If I were to ask you what your best prayers are for your son or daughter, what would that be? If your answer is for them to become a fully devoted followers of Christ who are also producing fully devoted followers of Christ, then Thrive School may just be the next step for them.