This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk 2:12-14)

Sure, it’s a little early for a Christmas verse from Scripture, especially with Easter just around the corner, but 2,000 plus years after Jesus’ birth, we still ask for signs.  That’s why I’ve used the acronym SIGNS to show how faith-based schools are indeed a ministry, since Matthew 7:16 says, “By their fruit, you will recognize them.” SIGNS describes what we want graduates of our schools to do – Serve, Inspire, Grow, Nurture and Succeed. Graduates of our schools are to be signs to the community and beyond, since their background will also go with them…perhaps today even more than ever, with social technologies like LinkedIn displaying employment summaries, educational institution attendance, and recommendations from co-workers and customers.

One of the most striking examples of being a sign to the community was demonstrated by the students of Father Ryan High School in Nashville, TN several years ago when flood waters ravaged Music City. During the deluge, schools were closed. But when other schools were back in session, the re-opening of school was delayed for the students at Father Ryan so they could help others who were in need. It was a great demonstration of “walking the talk” when faith-based schools claim to be different from other educational environments.

SIGNS goes along with FACTS (faith or founder’s identity, activities, curriculum, technology and surroundings) and ARMED (asset management, retention, marketing, enrollment and development) to set up the three basic systems that defines your school as a ministry, a school, and a business, respectively.  They answer the questions “why,” “what” and “how” when it comes to strategic planning.  There are two other systems that round out the need for five systems to create a complete system of systems, and those are defined by the acronyms TEACH (which answers the “who” question) and FAITH (which answers the “where” question).  The only one that’s not answered is “when,” since, in the case of faith-based schools, “when” is not necessarily within our timelines, but within God’s time (Kairos).   Interestingly, since it’s defined as “In the time where God acts,” it could be considered as the overarching result of the interaction of those 5 systems, since it’s also defined as ” the time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action.”  Realizing that all those systems need to be functioning at an optimum level will create the opportunity for God to act within your school.  Failure to recognize the importance of the systems and each of their elements will lead to its closure.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2012-2022