Posted by: Friends | 23 Sept 2012
Directors' Report - David Elms
Having been involved with CFS from early on, I would say that the last few years have probably been the most challenging ever. In the words of Her Majesty we have had an annus horribilus & in the light of recent events literally a life & death struggle.
The initial vision that launched CFS was not the product of some Siniatic encounter with El Shaddai resulting in the giving of 613 commandments & statutes. The vision was more a gradual revelation or unveiling (apocalupsis) of the emerging steps to take. As those steps of faith were taken Jehovah Jireh honoured, blessed & provided for those early pioneers of contemporary Christian education - in particular Phil Williamson. Under Phil’s leadership (although they did not know where they were going to end up) the pioneers did know that God was leading them & of greatest importance there was a singleness of heart & sharing of the emerging vision.
It should be noted that for whatever reason at that time & in God’s sovereignty, those embarking on spiritual change discovered:
• Spiritual Growth was relatively easy.
• A deep longing for Spiritual Realities was within the average believer’s heart.
• Particularly regarding Christian education, vision was as much tacitly understood as articulated.
Soon the educational pioneers discovered others, both within the region & within the country, who were also seeking to embark on a similar journey of faith. However, such a journey was set within the ethos of a drastically changing evangelical paradigm - the emergence of the charismatic movement.
The charismatic movement in its broadest sense led to other ancient wells being re-dug & soon new forms of church, worship styles & fellowship even new, fresh bible translations bursting onto the Western Christian scene.
But it was not just from within the Evangelical world that new world views & paradigms were emerging. Western culture itself was starting to feel seismic forces of change as Modernity gave way to Post-modernity. The post- Enlightenment goal of replacing religion & faith with art, science & rationality reached a climax with its anti-foundationalist, death of objective truth, philosophy. Such thinking was to have a profound effect upon secular educational thinking. From the 1960’s, a new era, arguably a new age- even a new dispensation began.
Fast forward 30 plus years .A new generation has emerged which has imbibed the values & world view of post- modernity. Traditional & spiritual values have changed beyond recognition & many Christians are more influenced by the post-modern humanistic models rather than knowledge, values & mindset of the Kingdom of God as revealed through the Scripture. In other words philosophically we are living in the midst of a clash of Kingdoms. To me the Bible is clear; this Kingdom clash will not decrease. In many ways this clash was early & clearly seen as Phil fought a spiritual & philosophical battle against the liberal & godless powers on behalf of Christian parents & Christian educational values.
CFS continues with such a battle today. How do we offer & live by Kingdom values that are totally different to the worldly kingdom agenda, yet at the same time carry out specific legal requirements that are needed for our very existence?
As Directors we have been working alongside Barbara for quite some time, going back to basics & revisiting the most basic of questions:
• What is Christian education?
• What was & is the divine mandate for CFS?
The governance of the school is based upon a close partnership between Barbara, the Directors & Governors. Decisions, policies & procedures are not reached in any arbitrary manner but are the product of detailed, prayerful discussion, & research often gained over many years of experience.
On behalf of the Directors I would like to express our thanks & gratitude to you, the staff, for not just your teaching skills & devotion but for your ministry to the Lord. Vocation is not a well used word today, probably because its root meaning is found in the definition ‘calling’. The calling is from God to the individual. We thank the Lord that gathered here today are people who believe in divine destiny for both themselves & for those entrusted into their care. At this critical time in our history, the directors desire to be co-labourers together with all the staff in finding the Lord’s will for now and the future.
However, it is important for you to appreciate just how privileged CFS is to have such a gifted successor to Phil in Barbara. In the many discussions as Directors which I have alluded to & in my personal involvement with different aspects of education, I have to say that there are few people in the UK who can articulate the concept, vision for Christian education & command the respect of so many educators as Barbara does.
A few years ago in a similar gathering, Owen used a simple yet profound parable to describe how all that has happened fits together. He scattered the pieces of a jigsaw onto a table & asked how can these pieces fit together? The answer was we need to see the bigger picture.
Today CFS is at a crossroads. How do such pieces of the puzzle such as death, financial challenges, the building, Ofsted, all fit into the bigger picture of Christian Education & the Kingdom of God? With so many ethical & practical challenges emerging over the last few years, it has meant that the focus & resources towards a new building have had to take a back burner. We do believe there is a correlation between spiritual harmony & practical provision. All of us need to work toward maintaining peace & harmony through Jesus. This is a very important piece of the jigsaw.
Whilst we won’t be able to put all the pieces of the jigsaw in today, we will be addressing some key questions.
Let me close this session by reminding you of two words which are found in Scripture & which I consider very relevant for today:
Philosophy is essentially composed from two Greek words: Philos – loving + Sophia- Wisdom.
Everyone has philosophy of life whether they acknowledge it as such or not. Our challenge as Christian educators is whether we are more influenced by the wisdom of this world and its value system or whether we are more influenced by the wisdom from above incarnated in Jesus Christ & replicated in the lifestyle of true believers.
Economics also has its etymology in two Greek words:
Oikos – house + Nomos – Law.
Economics has everything to do with running the household or in its usual biblical English translation ‘stewardship’.
CFS faces many challenges that the State system does not have but our uniqueness is that our philosophy, our mindset, our value system are embedded in Scripture & belief in Jesus Christ and his provision.
One day we will all give an account of our stewardship. May the Lord say to each one of us who have invested in the Kingdom of God through serving Him at CFS:
Well done good & faithful servant, you have been faithful in the small things, you will be given authority over great things. Luke 19:17
For today maybe the words of Brutus in Julius Caesar are quite fitting for us as we seek to move on:
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows & in miseries.
On such a full sea we are now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.